"To see a world in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand
And eternity in an hour."

From "Auguries of Innocence"

by William Blake

Sunday, 13 May 2012

A Secret Hidden Wood full of Bluebells

Last month I did a post "Following in the Footsteps of an Edwardian Lady Part 3: Olton Mill Pool", when I mentioned how much Olton and Solihull had changed since Edith Holden wrote her nature notes in 1905 and 1906.

Despite the vast amount of housing and other development in the area, when I looked at the current Ordance Survey map, pockets of woodland - hundreds of years old - still survive today.

Last Friday I decided to pay a visit to one of these woodland fragments - Coldlands Wood - which is shown (although not named) on the Ordance Survey map of the early twentieth century.

The Wood is almost entirely surrounded by houses with just an area of grassland along one edge. Initially, I found it hard to actually access the wood.

My first sighting of the wood from a church or community hall car park but there was no sign of a way in here!

Finally, I spotted an alleyway hidden between two houses which led into the wood.

Entering the wood - it was very muddy and I was glad I had my wellies on!

The biggest delight of all was the large amount of bluebells covering the woodland floor.

It was lovely and quiet in this glade (looking like somewhere from "Lord of the Rings") - just birdsong for company.

"A fine and subtle spirit dwells
In every little flower,
Each one its own sweet feeling breathes
With more or less of power.
There is a silent eloquence
In every wild bluebell
That fills my softened heart with bliss
That words could never tell......."

Lines taken from "The Bluebell" by Anne Bronte

I found a few flowers of Yellow Archangel.

I had left my binoculars in the car but there were plenty of the more common species of birds around - wood pigeons, blackbirds, magpies, robins and blue and great tits.

I am not sure if Edith Holden of "Country Diary" fame ever visited this particular wood but it is only a few miles from where she lived in Olton so I like to think she would have walked here on her many travels in the area.

Coldlands Wood covers around 3.7 hectares and is semi-natural broad-leafed mixed woodland listed in the Ancient Woodlands Inventory. Oak, Birch and Beech are present with an understorey of Rowan, Hazel, Holly, Hawthorn and Elder. The trees vary in age but there are several veteran Birch and Beech Trees. The wood is hidden away just a mile or so from Solihull Town Centre.

Sorry that the photos are not that good - the light was really poor as it was starting to rain and even with an ISO of 800 I was only getting shutter speeds of 1/15th or 1/20th of a second.

Many thanks to Chris of Las Aventuras (please see link on the right) for giving me the idea for the post heading.


kirstallcreatures said...

It looks like a lovely piece of woodland,well done for finding the access point, where there's a will there's a way!

Ragged Robin said...

Kirkstall Creatures - I was pleasantly surprised at how lovely it was. I had to drive round several avenues before I found a way in! I only planned to find out where it was hoping to visit another time but on the spur of the moment decided to have a walk there and then!

Rohrerbot said...

This is some wonderful photo journaling here! I'm so glad you posted this today. It's Sunday here and a earlier so I was able to look at the pics closer. That is awesome investigation. The "Alley" is the gate to the secret forest....do others know of this place? And if so is it the best kept secret in the neighborhood? Lots of little gems like this exist all over....including my area and I'm only now finding them. It makes me smile that your journey had a happy report....it's protected by the modern world. Brilliant:) Love love love your adventures based off of her book. Today I'm on the hunt for several birds reported in another secret woods...the White Earred Hummingbird and Rosy Breasted Grosbeak which have been spotted in our area. Hope you have a great week and thanks for sharing you stories. Chris:)

Ragged Robin said...

Chris - Thanks so much for such a lovely comment - I am so glad you are enjoying these posts. The research and the exploring is great fun! Its nice finding all these hidden away places too.

The wood was fairly quiet when I was there but I would imagine it is visited fairly regularly by the people who live in the houses surrounding it.

I am glad you are finding your own "secret places" to explore - is amazing what can be found close to your own doorstep if you take the time to look and research.

Good luck in your White Earred Hummingbird and Rosy Breasted Grosbeak hunt - I really do hope you are successful and enjoy your own secret forests.

Have a lovely week too :)

All the best Caroline

ShySongbird said...

A lovely post Caroline! How exciting to discover a hidden treasure and of course there is nothing like an English wood at Bluebell time. Your photos convey that special atmosphere beautifully. Like you, having found the way in I wouldn't have been able to leave it for another day :-)

I do hope you won't be offended if you see some of the Anne Bronte poem on my blog eventually...I had it already in my 'future folder'!

Toffeeapple said...

I am waiting for a day of sunshine to go to my local Bluebell Wood. There is a BP garage built right next to it which looks rather incongruous but it does provide parking spaces for the visitors.

I am enjoying these posts where you refer to the book and the author.

Ragged Robin said...

Shy Songbird - Many thanks for your lovely comment - glad you liked the pics - I was having trouble trying to hold the camera steady enough :)

Of course I don't mind about the poem:) I do love your posts and the way you intersperse photos and text with lines from poetry so I look forward to reading that one. I may inadvertently have used the same poems as you in the past - apologies if I ever have - sometimes there is a limited selection on a certain subject :)

Toffeeapple Many thanks - its lovely when people enjoy particular posts. I hope you get to your own bluebell wood soon - I had to smile at the thought of the BP garage nearby :)

Dartford Warbler said...

What a beautiful wood. I can imagine the scent rising from those carpets of bluebells. Thank goodness that someone had the foresight to protect this ancient patch of woodland.

Ragged Robin said...

Dartford Warbler - Many thanks. There's not many things that can beat an English wood carpeted in bluebells :)

Although I've moaned about the development in Solihull I do have to say they have done a good job in protecting some woods and there are loads of parks.