"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, 8 May 2016

A Magical Woodland - Puzzlewood

We had a day out in Gloucestershire last Thursday and visited the very magical Puzzlewood, near Coleford, in the Forest of Dean. There are 14 acres of ancient woodland with meandering paths and hundreds of steps which pass through deep ravines and gorges, over wooden bridges and past incredible trees covered in mosses and ferns and superb rock formations.

If the wood seems familiar it has been used as a film location for several films and tv series including Merlin (unicorns, dragons, chases and Morganna's hideaway), Doctor Who (the Weeping Angels), Atlantis, Hidden Kingdoms (the nature programme) and the latest Star Wars film.

The geological features occurring in the wood are called Scowles - over millions of years the natural caves in the wood have been eroded and eventually exposed at the surface. Hence there are many dips and hollows as you walk through the wood.

Veins of exposed iron ore were mined by Iron Age settlers and the Romans. 3000 roman coins hidden in 3 earthenware jars were found in the 1800's by workmen.

Species of tree in the wood include oak, beech, ash lime and yew. The roots of yew seek out the iron ore veins.

It would be a great place to take children and there are many "treasures" to seek such as Dinosaur feet, a magic doorway, balancing beams, hidden benches, spooky trees a crocodile and a secret cave.

Wild garlic is just coming into flower - it will look fantastic in a few weeks and we found Bluebells, Wood Anemones, Wood Sorrel and Violets.

The wooden crocodile.

I could see a face in this tree - D couldn't!

We were a little disappointed in the photos - I do find woodland hard to photograph and, in addition, my camera has started to "play up". When I zoom out the lens towards 42mm to take close-ups the picture in the view finder looks very dim and under-exposed with a very low shutter speed and the more you try to re-focus the more under exposed it looks. I think it is the lens that is the problem rather than the camera body as I tried my macro and 70-300mm zoom lenses today and they would zoom out without any problem. The camera has been discontinued so I won't be able to buy a new lens so it will be a matter of either sending it back to Olympus for repair or buying a second hand lens. I'm not very happy that I shall be without the camera for a while but at least it might make me get to grips with the controls and settings on the Canon Bridge!

Talking of which here are a few of D's photos with the Canon.

There is an area with some farm animals and donkeys including this Gloucester Old Spot pig.

Birds seen included Blackbirds, Wrens, Treecreepers, Nuthatch and several very friendly Robins.

Opposite -leaved Saxifrage

Wood Sorrel

A cup of tea and a Star Wars cake before we left.


Kevin and Seri said...

Looks great, you do find interesting spots Caroline :-)

Margaret Adamson said...

Such a wonderful woodland to explore. Gorgeous trees, stumps, mosses and beautiful wildflowers. Sometimes the lighting can be rricky in the woods for photographs, I agree.

Toffeeapple said...

Somewhat coincidentaly, we went through Colebrook on Wednesday and it was full up with people. We found, later, that it was May the 4th, as in "May the Force be with you". We have never seen Star Wars, so had no idea what was happening. We also had no idea about Puzzlewood, it seems that we missed an opportunity!

Ragged Robin said...

Kevin and Seri - Thanks very much. All credit must go to my son as he found out about the place :)

Margaret Adamson - Thanks so much Margaret - it was a very lovely place to visit. I always struggle with woodland photography but worse this time due to camera problems :(

Toffeeapple - Thanks very much - what a coincidence you were so close - it well worth visiting although I would imagine very busy weekends and bank holidays! I've only seen the first couple of Star War films - my husband and son went to see the last one but I don't think they were that impressed with it! But I do remember seeing the wood in Merlin and Dr Who.

Rosie said...

Looks a fantastic place and just the sort of place that makes you think of magical, fairytale type things. It looks as if you found something delightful and interesting at every turn. My camera is playing up at the moment too, especially the on/off switch and the zoom. Your photos are all wonderful:)

Ragged Robin said...

Rosie - Thanks very much - it really is a spectacular wood to visit - so much to see and explore and no map provided so you can have fun getting totally lost :)

So sorry to hear about your camera problems - I am getting very frustrated with mine. Have just emailed Olympus to see if they can help but I suspect the lens has had its day and I love that camera :( Have found one second hand lens for sale by a reputable dealer so may have to go down that route. I am fortunate in that I have a half share with my son with the Canon bridge but it wouldn't be fair on him to commandeer it when we go out together or on holiday. Do hope you get your problems sorted out soon - really feel for you!

Wendy said...

A wonderful post. Puzzlewood looks a fabulous place and great for the imagination. I'm not surprised there is a Tolkein connection. I love the gnarled trees and roots and the wildflowers and mosses. The woodcraft there looks fascinating, too.

Ragged Robin said...

Wendy - Thanks so much Wendy - could quite see how Tolkien may have been inspired! Wonderful place and some of the ways wood sorrel and mosses were growing was just so magical.

amanda peters said...

Lovey post and photos, this is my kinda place I would have loved it here. All the mosses and Ferns, love how they have used old branches to line the path.
Even better to know they filmed Star Wars here, I loved Harrison Ford right from the beginning.
Shame about your camera playing up, I would be lost without mine...
Amanda xx

Ragged Robin said...

Amanda Peters - Thanks very much Amanda - I know you would love exploring there. Place is totally unique :)

Really fed up about my camera - emailed Olympus yesterday and they suggest sending it in for repair. Trouble is that could be costly - should I just buy one second hand? I think I will probably send it off and see what the estimate is. I am however now studying the Canon Bridge camera user manual so hopefully might finally learn how to use it while I am without my own!

Millymollymandy said...

Another wonderful place - you have so many interesting places, both buildings and countryside, where you live! Great that you get out to explore and make the most of it. This place is truly magical! Hope you get your camera/lens sorted soon. xx

Countryside Tales said...

What a fantastic place, Caroline. The photos are very evocative of it. Magical :o)

Ragged Robin said...

Millymollymandy - Thanks very much Mandy. This wood was more of a trek - should have taken 1 3/4 hours but took 2 1/2 as we got lost!! We drove past it a few years back and didn't really have time to go in so we always said we would return!

Thanks too for good wishes re: camera - I think I am going to return it to Olympus and see what the estimate is for repair.

Countryside Tales - Thanks very much CT :) Glad you enjoyed the post.

Deb said...

Puzzlewood looks a lovely place, really magical. Thanks for sharing. :)

Ragged Robin said...

Deb- Thanks very much - it was even better than I thought it would be :)

David said...

A wonderful and enchanting woodland Caroline, you can really imagine how Tolkien would have been inspired by this location in his depiction of Mirkwood! My nephew would also be very interested in the Star Wars connection :-)

Hope you get your camera lens fixed/replaced as soon as possible :-)

Kindest regards :-)

Ragged Robin said...

David - Thanks so much. I think the Dr Who/Merlin connection was what attracted my son the most!! We nearly visited a few years back after going to Hereford Cathedral. In fact, even pulled in the car park but decided we didn't have enough time so went to Clearwell Caves instead. Always said we would return :)

Thanks for good wishes re: the camera lens. Having problems now trying to keep track of repair as when I try to log in on website I am told the connection is not secure :( Just hoping they will email when it is fixed otherwise I may phone them tomorrow if problem with website persists!

Chris Rohrer said...

I had to blow up the pics to really see the details. That definitely looks like a very cool place to explore and I can totally see an Ent or two living in the woods. Before I even saw the sign, I thought Hobbiton or the forests around the shire.

I especially love the cupcake:) Love scifi stuff. In fact our comicon is happening this weekend. I'll be birding most of it but I may take a day to stop in and snap some pics:) Micheal is going to attend. I'm working with a friend on our next project for June. If I ever come to your area, I would love to visit this place!

Ragged Robin said...

Chris Rohrer - Many thanks Chris. I thought of you when we were there knowing you love all things Tolkien and Star Wars! :)

Hope you and Micheal have a brilliant time at the comicon and enjoy the birding. Look forward to reading about the June project and do hope you get over here one day. So many superb places to visit and I would love to meet you :)