A few days ago, our Essential Nature group visited Chapel Wood, a beautiful area of mostly broadleaf woodland, which is an RSPB Nature Reserve, and within the North Devon Coast AONB (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty).
From the first moment, and throughout the woods we sensed a pervading atmosphere of the ancient past. A steep slope, led us upwards, through the old twisted mossy trees, and up to the site of an Iron Age hillfort. As far as I could see, there was no immediately visible sign of the fort, but I was aware of its presence.
photo © movement artist Michelle Wilkinson
We explored slowly and quietly… wandering, walking, dreaming, talking – and whatever else took our fancy, such as movement, writing, sketching or photography… enjoying the tangled twisty branches and foliage, and the plants and weird exotic fungi to be seen at this time of year… From time to time, we heard the occasional cry of a buzzard. Senses sharpened as we walked through the shadowy trees.
Beech, fern, holly mantle shrouds me from above
My body is held in the rich dry earth
Of fallen gold leaves, blackened seeds and damp decaying bark
My head leads my spine in undulations
My limbs reach out similar to branches spreading to the light
A continual whisper of breeze in the trees
Sound and movement vibrations go hand in hand
And I am stirred from my slumber, serenely becoming vertical
My heart opens, rippling through my arms to the green foliage sky
In this hidden wood world
I am brought into my soft expansive self
And leave little trace as I glow from inside out
Reaching the bottom again, we rested by a fresh running stream, and the stone ruins of a small Chapel dating from around 1270, which had also housed a solitary priest.
Just outside the chapel was a sparkling well. Gazing into its crystal clear depths, it seemed to reflect the whole of the world.
As always, all photos on this post are © myself, Linda Gordon, unless otherwise credited. I am happy to share images and info whenever possible. Please feel free to ask!
Essential Nature walks are based around the beautiful North Devon coastal area of England. They are casual, free-flowing explorations for all arts and nature enthusiasts. Two more woodland walks are coming up in Oct and Nov. Contact me to find out more.