This fallen tree bridges a deep dip in Benhall woods. As I walk there each day with my little dog, Toffee, it also bridges the years and the generations for me.
I have lived opposite Benhall park and woods for over 30 years now. It is a delight to have such a wild and wonderful place in the heart of a residential area. It is filled with Silver Birch, hazel and oak trees as well as blackberry bushes.
I used to bring my children here to play when they were very young. Then, as teenagers they would play endlessly among the trees, riding their bikes (BMXs in those days) over the natural obstacle course formed long ago by the spoil from the construction of the railway that runs alongside. The bumps, dips and trenches make a perfect playground and the fallen trees add to the excitement and interest, providing endless hiding places and material for dens.
These days I bring my grandchildren to play in the woods and they love it just as much. There are always squirrels to spot and birds galore, including owls and woodpeckers that nest high up in the trees.
There is a stream running alongside the woods through a lovely park. In the stream there are ‘millers’ thumb’ fish, and this week I saw a Great Egret fishing for them!
In spring there was a carpet of snowdrops around the edges of the wood followed later by banks of bluebells in wild areas where nettles flourish.
I love the place.
Recently there has been a lot of controversy because the local council want to allow trainee tree surgeons to practice cutting down trees in the wood. I have to say I have mixed feelings about this. I do love the wildness of the wood, but, I can see some work has been carried out to good effect.
One of the saddest aspects of the wood is the tragic suicides that have taken place there in recent years. A young man hanged himself there some years ago. Then, tragically, a 15-year-old boy did in 2015 after possibly being bullied. And a 29-year-old woman sadly did the same last November while suffering from depression.
Since then I notice lots of the lower branches have been removed from the trees, making them difficult to climb and so less likely to be used for this sad purpose.