Tag Archives: woods

Glorious Trees in Winter: Kelburn Castle

It is so hard to photograph trees, but the burn of Kelburn Castle was of surpassing loveliness and contrasts on this mid-February day. Wind through  branches filled the world, an icy roaring mostly above our heads — a few branches came down around us as we were walking. One huge crack and a falling of one just in front of us provided some photographic comedy gold (Much as did my wearing three shirts, jumper, hoodie and coat), but also a slight thrill of danger.

But the woods, oh the woods. Empty of people, full of forest soundings. They sang impossibly beautiful around us in traceries of twigs framed by moss covered trunks. The red of fallen leaves still glowing.

Kelburn

Kelburn

Kelburn

Kelburn

Kelburn

Kelburn

Kelburn

Kelburn

Kelburn

Kelburn

My little brother, who at over six feet isn’t actually all that little but seemed hidden and small in this place…

Kelburn

Trees surrounding the falling of water…

Kelburn

Kelburn

Kelburn

Kelburn

Kelburn

Kelburn

Kelburn

Kelburn

This incredible mossy bark…

Kelburn

Kelburn

Kelburn

Kelburn

The wooly character of branches

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The microcosms that live here

Kelburn

And then to slowly emerge from the trees to see the view of the Firth of Clyde and its islands and snow-capped mountains in the distance:

Kelburn

Kelburn

Kelburn

Kelburn

And its unexpected additions

Kelburn

From there we returned back to the castle, to a most wonderful walled garden and trees tamed — yet not entirely.

Single trees, enormous and ancient yews, some of them planted over a thousand years ago and framing more formal gardens alongside Kelburn castle. Three of Scotland’s most historic trees are here.

Kelburn

Kelburn

Kelburn

Kelburn

The first spring flowers I have seen this year, and a few other budding branches:

Kelburn

This whole place is primarily geared towards kids, families, campers — there were wonderful things for kids all around, though I was glad that the weather meant we had the place to ourselves and I imagine it is heaving in the spring and summer. I quite love what these Brazilian artists did to the castle when let loose on it:

Kelburn

Kelburn

But the last bit of the walk brought an unexpected reminder of some of the underlying social relations that have clouded this place. Not least that it is privately owned, but also in how it connected to power and Empire. All of this beauty was once owned by the Earl of Glasgow, who also served as governor of New Zealand — in an old not-very-waterproof shed sits a small museum with some of his collection. The faces of those who had their own wilds stolen from them stared back at us.

Kelburn

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Kelburn Castle: 2017’s first spring flowers

Tristram and I drove down to Kelburn Castle, and it was baltic, with rain almost sleet as we left but we headed from Hamilton towards Largs and occasionally the clouds would break to reveal patches of blue sky. Some sunshine, though lighting the world up far from us. The wind was freezing, even among the trees. Ice lined the puddles of water, though water flowed and rivuleted everywhere down the burn as we climbed it.

Kelburn

It was astounding to see these amazing snowdrops:

Kelburn

Thousands of them. Like these, adorning the banks, among these enormous, ancient trees.

Kelburn

As we walked back to the car park, we passed this last, lone utterly mad daffodil.

Kelburn

In the walled garden there were some beautiful rhododendrons blooming as well — I love walled gardens, what wonderful places they are in this climate! Yet I don’t feel I can count them really.

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Halsdon Nature Reserve

Halsdon Nature Reserve is formed by a beautiful wood along the Torridge. Even though we missed the bluebells, which were just finishing, the air was still thick with ransoms — my new name for wild garlic (Allium ursinum). I learned that you can eat the leaves, most delicious in a pesto. Campions, violets, some early larkspur as well, and masses of others I still have to look up.

But above all the trees — oaks, beeches and sycamores, just springing into their very early green. It must be one of the most wonderful colours in the world.

Under cloud cover:

Halsdon Nature Reserve

In the sun:

Halsdon Nature Reserve

We walked down to the old mill — the house’s cob walls on a foundation of brick still standing.

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It is always sad to see such buildings falling into ruin. Picturesque though.

I climbed down into the well where I think the wheel must once have sat, and looked down the Torridge, it was a beautiful day today after so much rain.

Halsden Wood

We walked along the river a little ways, saw some mallards. And then the path opens out onto a meadow, where you can walk and look for otters if you don’t have a dog.

But we had a dog.

So we climbed up, circled back around. Sunday afternoons in Devon could hardly better, unless this one had included a cream tea.

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Woods in Spring Time

Beeches, great wonderful trees in lovely woods still carpeted with fall(en) leaves and still only the lightest shading of a new year’s green:

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Oaks:

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Wild garlic:

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And bluebells

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a mist of them through the trees

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Somehow they are never as beautiful in pictures as they are when you stand before them and your heart rises. The wild cherry trees are rather more photogenic.

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And this, my favourite picture of them all I think.

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These are all from the Chilterns, we were staying in Nettlebed for a wedding in Bix stealing the thunder from my birthday. Perhaps my favourite cousin was worth it. I love the chalky hills full of flint, the villages of old brick and flint in patterned beauty. I was hoping to find old chalk cottages but we never managed to get there. Instead we found mansion after mansion, fence after residential fence scattered through hills, and more than one of these new kinds of meadow:

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The people were absolutely the least endearing feature of this countryside. Though I will also never forget the cows.

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We made it back for wine however.

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