What else is on this website? Choose your woodland interest to start browsing!
This is an account of the first session back after the autumn break- written by session leader Andrew Dugmore
Well the 1st day back into the woods has arrived. It’s late November and there’s still no sign of Winter knocking on the doors. Late summer was the last time we met and there’s not such a big difference in temperature now as it was then.
We start off with our usual warm up, then we have a look at how our posture lines up as we walk. We start to roll our feet and swing our arms and shoulders effortlessly, then it’s time for the poles, time to nordic walk again. Into the woods we stride and we notice how Autumn is lingering and how the leaves are delaying their inevitable fall, surely a sign of a mild autumn.
Soon we are amazed by a large gathering of white extended fungi. Jo tells us of some of the biology of fungi and we stare intrigued and engaged. We are unable to identify and name it but does that really matter as we stare and closely connect with another of nature’s marvels.
Further on we are drawn deeper into the wonders of Penglais woods and just below the path lies the wishing well. Immediately a 5 pink petal circle catches our eye as it floats timeless on the surface of the water. From a far it looks artificial and I think of a peace offering as a new age alternative to a remembrance day poppy. Down the steps to the well we drop and amazed we find the pink flowers are real and held in a wreath with ivy. In the wishing well we see the poor pennies of perhaps some desperate wishes. Behind the wishing well, hidden in the walled bank we glimpse the real well, functionally built to drink from, not just an ornamental delight. We pull back the overgrowth and there lies an inviting pool of drinking water.
Into the open beech woods we go, a jay flitters from branch to branch and further we move along the path to the cliff tops. This is not a power walk, blinkered to the finish but it’s a stroll and meander of looking, listening and feeling. And the great open mass of Aberystwyth down below opens up, the Theological College, the castle, the harbour and Mair’s House. We cast our distant looks to the southern coastlines and cliff tops of Cardigan bay, Newquay, Mwnt and Strumble Head. We walk further along the quarry until health and safety and public liability says stop and we further mingle and watch as the bright new paint and refurb of Constitution Hill shines.
Time to return to the wood and to take in the out of time blooms of red campion, bramble and gorse. When will winter take it’s prey? And we gather in that social opening of beech. A new found stump for a table, as a Robin gathers inquisitively around. Sit down upon a log and tea and coffee is poured to warm ourselves and to refresh us. Plans and hopes are talked, passions stirred and emotions touched. Hopes of woodland crafts, to navigate a compass and map, to forage the spring leaves for salad. Connections are deepened as genuineness is shared.
A quick time check is taken and unbelievably it’s time to return. As we leave, the master beech tree shadows over us, mystery and majesty calls. I’m sure this tree will become a friend and teacher as the winter weeks of Penglais unfold. We walk for home past the holly bush rich with berries and I wonder how many berries will remain uneaten by next week.
Andrew Dugmore – Walk with friends and Aber Active woods –