Fire in the woods

Fire in the woods

Last weekend, we visited our woodland for the first time since officially completing. 

Although it’s May and the forecast had promised sunshine, the day dawned cold and gloomy. Undaunted, we packed up the car for the 45-minute journey and rolled into Lamberhurst around half nine in the morning.

Our biggest fear was that we would have missed the bluebell peak entirely during all the wrangling over conveyancing across two counties (the boundaries between Kent and Sussex neatly bisect our wood). But we needn’t have worried – as we drove down the shared track to our new purchase, the entire woodland was a sea of blue punctuated with hard fern and last year’s brambles.

It was almost painful crushing them under our boots as we made our way from the car to the central clearing, but it couldn’t be helped. Although some animals had left faint traces here and there, it only took one or two passes back and forth for us to create a blatantly visible path – I felt like a big, brutish human, moulding the land irrevocably. I hoped that our footprint would not ever be heavier than that.

The seasonal creeks were full and rushing after so much recent rain. For us, having running water was one of the non-negotiable criteria for our purchase. Owning a woodland has long been our dream, but it was only recently made possible due to the inheritance of my late father, the man who taught me how to love camping and being outdoors. But these ancient English woodlands were nothing like what I grew up with in America; there is something magical about the stillness in that sea of unearthly blue. I am certain that my father would approve – though as a keen fly fisherman, he would be disappointed to learn that the creeks dry up in the heat of summer and no trout could survive there.fire in the woods

The first thing we did was to dig out a large firepit and ring it with stones we’d brought from home. Everything was quite damp, but our son, aged nine and an enthusiastic Cub Scout, helped us to coax a blaze from his ferro rod, and sawed his first logs. The warmth was welcome, and we used our Storm Kettle (a kind gift from Ruth at woodlands.co.uk) to make hot chocolate. A pair of fallow deer – clearly surprised to see us – bolted past, and the canopy was full of birdsong. I didn’t want to leave when other chores and obligations eventually called us away – the sun had come out, making the bluebells glow, and there was no place I’d rather be.

Our next step is to build a compostable toilet so that we can camp overnight. We’ll let you know how that goes!


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I bought some Woodland some 8 years ago….never been bought or sold since 1942…just passed by Will
My idea is to do nothing and leave it as an oasis of the Natural World
Trees are 80 years old…some fallen over…
I love it


5 June, 2023

“Our next step is to build a compostable toilet so that we can camp overnight. We’ll let you know how that goes!”

— still digging!


4 June, 2023