|Mother and fawn|
On sunny days in November, I'm usually in a 'make the most of the outdoors' mood. I like to enjoy the autumn colours while they last - and so when I can, I squeeze in a woodland walk. I did this recently when I walked through Writtle Forest, which isn't far from where I live. Writtle forest is made up of different areas of ancient woodland - and a good description of it comes from the late academic and writer on the British countryside, Oliver Rackham:
' Writtle Forest is a wild and lovely place. Nearly everything one sees there is of the fourteenth century or earlier: the great assart surrounded by hornbeam springs and alder slades: the heathland. Pollard oaks, and woodbanks.'
I'd also add to this description the lovely sight of fallow deer because there are so many here, and it's wonderful coming across them...
I looked for a trace of the hermitage, but I couldn't see anything. From the maps, it appears it stood where there is now a small meadow. There's another 'lost' building around here, too - King John's hunting lodge. Sadly, there's also little trace of this here today.
Writtle Forest has a claim to fame as the birthplace of Robert the Bruce....but which Robert the Bruce remains a dispute among historians. Some maintain it was the famous King of Scotland, while others believe it was his father (Robert the Bruce or Robert de Brus, sixth lord of Annandale, born 1243) who had an estate here.
I love walking through all woodland in November, but there is something special about walking through an ancient forest. The old trees, with their thick, gnarled trunks, have so much character.
And I don't suppose it was a bad job being a hermit here either, all those years ago.