I have to confess woodlands have always intrigued me from being a child, be they small, intimate woodlands consisting of a few dozen tree’s or vast forests covering 1000’s of acres. There was always something, something special or magical even. Then you grow up of course and the world takes on a whole new perspective, then ‘magical’ often takes a back seat if it gets a seat at all.
I did dally with the idea a little when my daughter reached an age where rugged outdoor play was on the agenda but never to the point of pursuing it to make it real, too much else happening in life, just too busy. But then my Mother passed away, her last dying wish was that I ‘feed the wild birds and look after wild flowers and trees’. It’s at these points in life you are forced to stop and take stock, and here was a sign, surely?
We viewed a few woodlands but Hatherland spoke to us when we viewed it, I guess it’s one of those things you can’t describe in words, or if you can I don’t have sufficient word craft to do it justice. It was smells, sounds, feelings, it was that old magic struggling to break out and be free again. Hatherland was to be ours, a relatively modest slice of Devon Oak woodland, ancient in its land use if not in its current crop of Oak.
During our first few visit’s we had such grand plans with what we could and would do, how we would tame the wild and create a paradise.
Capability Brown had nothing on us, this was going to be spectacular! It’s what we do, the human race, we seem addicted to ‘knowing better’. However, as we visited more a subtle spell was cast and the wild tamed us. We began to realise that it was idyllic, mesmerising, mystical and spiritual all at the same time, in short damn near perfect, far surpassing anything we could create, so we did…. nothing.
We have spent days and nights in this happy place, it devours time like a plug does water. We walk, sit, play, talk, camp, eat, rest, drink and smile, lot’s. My daughter loves to play in the stream, paddling, building dam’s and racing stick rafts whilst we watch from the banks. She learnt to climb a tree, and despite abject terror on the first attempt she was determined to go back, the tree willing her on to that next branch, offering her comfort, giving her support, showing her the world in a different way, sharing her space and her it’s.
We have an old camper which tucks nicely off the track on the edge of the wood, so not all comforts are sacrificed for those that don’t wish to step back into the iron age, but for those that seek a closer connection a tree tent has proven to be ideal way of suspending yourself within the dream. Owls hoot, the trees sing and the ground litter rustles with life, a symphony of peace. Buying a wood is less about why would you and more about why wouldn’t you? No new car, bigger house, bigger TV has brought so much happiness to my family as this one small wood on a hillside in deepest Devon.