First Wood of the Day. I’m on a minition to ‘bag’ a few today; the twitcher in me is out.
Evie and I walked from the village of Blackboys. We’re earlier enough to be ahead of school drop-off and far too early for the wonderful looking pub.
Across the busy B2192 to Heathfield from Uckfield Road and into the woods. Sadly the noise from the traffic is never far away – how much more pleasant it would have been to have been here, quite against the regulations, during the Covid-19 lockdown when even our local wooded walk along the edge of the busy A27 Lewes bypass was silent.
We get quickly away from the road and in so doing move through a patchwork of land use types.
Indeed, there is a second wood, Turnmill Wood, not yet on the Woodland Trust website (or missed amongst the 1,000+). There’s a ‘remnant of precious ancient woodland’ in here – dark between mature trees and pooling streams. It is a treasure, but sad in its isolation, like a neglected standing stone, or a piece of Hadrian’s Wall alone in suburban Newcastle. Foreigners must laugh at our niggledly loves and precious attitudes, but when you just have crumbs or ancient woodland left rather than vast forests stretching miles over mountains and dotted with wide lakes what else can we do.
It doesn’t take long to find the ‘other’ entrance, or the correct entrance to Kiln Wood – there’s layby parking here too – for two or three cars at least, off the busy main road.
It is more of an entrance too, with some of the features I am coming to expect and recognise in a Woodland Trust managed wood – excellent steps, gates, bridges and signage. I’m looking forward now to returning to these spaces after a downpour or in the rain, once the tree cover has gone and in winter. So my frantic ticking off woods in Sussex now is to set me up for 28 or more return visits over the next 6 months through autumn, winter and spring.
I’m used to telling a person’s story each day of the year for The Western Front Association, people, almost always young men, who served and died during the First World War, rather than peacefully and commemorated like this in a local wood. I have my eye on several spots around Sussex, a beach in Northumberland and a snow covered slope in the French Alps, so my ashes will have to be bagged up and split, and funds set aside for a bench or two such as this.
The Blackboys Inn is so picture-postcard that in the summer, and outside Covid-19 travel restrictions, I am sure it is popular. I’ll aim to get here for lunch or an early evening snack next time.