"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

Monday, 7 November 2016

Autumnal Woodland Walk at Salcey Forest, Eleanor Cross and "Fright Night" at Aston Hall

D was keen to go on a woodland walk to see some autumn colour and had spotted in the "i" newsaper a recommended walk along Church Path Trail in Salcey Forest, Northamptonshire. So the weekend before last we paid a visit. Salcey forest is a 500 hectare ancient semi-natural woodland managed by the Forestry Commission. It includes remnants of a medieval royal hunting forest and contains "druids" or veteran oaks that are over 600 years old. Management techniques to improve biodiversity include the removal of plantation conifers to encourage the natural regeneration of native trees. Broadleaved trees are thinned selectively to open up the canopy creating trees of different ages. Coppicing has also been reintroduced.

The car park was packed but most people seemed to remain near the car park or by the tree top walk (more of that later!) and the one and a half mile Church Path Trail was fairly quiet.

Autumn colours were developing beautifully.

Lots of fallen leaves to walk through :)

We didn't see many birds but did find a few fungi species although not as many as I had hoped. Id is ongoing - in fact, when I get a minute I will put try and post some photos on i-spot. Fungi id is not my strong point! Edit - I think the species in the middle photo may be Sulphur Tuft?

This is the Church Path Oak (now fallen). William Henry, the 6th Duke of Grafton used to rest under this tree on his journey to and from Piddington Church.

Lime Tree Walk

We had now reached the Treetop Way which is 15 metres above the woodland floor and right at the end is a Tower 20 metres high.

The beginning of the walk- not too scary!!

I got as far as the part you can see in the distance in this photo and then my fear of heights kicked in and I have to admit I returned to the start!

D continued on his own (the next few photos are his) - I wouldn't have got much further than I did because apparently the walkway starts to sway and

there is a rather frightening stairway to the tower. Heights don't bother D but I don't think he was so keen on the stairs.

Views from the top

We had lunch in the Forest Cafe - broccoli and stilton soup with crusty bread.

It would be worth returning to the forest in Spring/Summer when over 50% of English butterfly species can be seen here.

I couldn't see Purple Emperor in the photo above but I believe they do still occur here. Denys Watkins-Pitchford ("BB"), the author, artist and conservationist saw his first Purple Emperor at Salcey. Later in his life he bred and released this species at Fermyn Wood in the same county.

Before the journey home we made our way the few miles to Hardingstone to see one of the three surviving Eleanor Crosses. Queen Eleanor of Castile died in 1290 at Harby Nottinghamshire and her body was taken to Westminster Abbey, London. Her husband, King Edward I, arranged for crosses to be built, between 1291 and 94, at the places where the funeral procession had stopped overnight. Originally, there were 12 of these medieval crosses but today only those at Geddington, Hardingstone (both Northamptonshire) and Waltham Cross (London) remain. The cross at Hardingstone was constructed at the edge of Delapre Abbey and was begun in 1291. It was built in 3 tiers and the top may once have held a cross. The bottom tier contains open books which may once have contained painted details of Eleanor's life and prayers for her soul. I found the cross very beautiful and very moving and was so glad we had made the detour to find it.

On Sunday, 30th October, we attended a Halloween "Fright Night" at Aston Hall. Photos weren't allowed of the actual event but here is one of the hall as we arrived.

The event lasted an hour and really was rather scary. It contained a variety of spooky, ghostly tales, enactments and some rather frightening "surprises". I quickly learned not to stand on the front or back row or at either end! It was my first visit to Aston Hall since taking D and E when they were little but I will try and return next year (in the daytime) as it is an interesting location.

This year's Halloween pumpkin and

a beeswax candle I recently bought. The design isn't for Halloween but I love the bee and skep :)

Last 3 photos by D.


Simon Douglas Thompson said...

Yikes, I'm terrible with heights as well! Although when I was on holiday in Boscastle I was a lot better when I sort of practiced by walking on the clifftop paths, still nerve wracking. I get terrible vertigo, even worse after my ear infection in 1996

Ragged Robin said...

Simon Douglas Thompson - Thanks Simon - glad I am not alone! Some of those clifftop paths are horrendous - with very steep drops. Have forgotten how many times I haven't been able to continue and had to go back or cut inland. Did you go to Tintagel?! When we went I couldn't even get across that bridge to the island and the paths on the island itself all seemed to have steep drops! I've never been keen on heights although it got worse after I had the children. Before that I had even been gliding twice!!

Rosie said...

I think I would have been nervous on that tree top walk, we did a much smaller one at Hawkstone Follies - not so bad as I could see both ends but I only got halfway across the Pontcysyllte acqueduct, mainly becase a group of Japanese tourists were coming the other way with umbrellas unfurled so I beat a hasty retreat, I'm not sure whether I would have carried on even if they weren't there!. Love your Halloween pumpkin:)

Ragged Robin said...

Rosie Thanks Rosie. I've watched boats on tv go across the Pontcysylllte aquaduct and thought that I couldn't go over it on a boat let alone walk it. You were very brave but I would have scurried back at the thought of approaching people with brollies to squeeze past with that huge drop!!! In fact when we went to Bristol I couldn't bring myself to walk over the suspension bridge!

Anonymous said...

I'm not so good with heights as I was as a child, and my mum had dreadful vertigo and found it hard to cross the bridge over the main road - I can remember her holding on tight and almost shutting her eyes in the middle. Our son isn't good with heights either. I got a million times worse after climbing up to the top tower of Magdelaine Church in Oxford and remember flattening myself against the steeple and begging my friend to GET ME DOWN!!!

Well done to your son for braving it and getting those wonderful photos. Perhaps in summer with the leaves on the trees you wouldn't notice the drop so much and could concentrate on the butterflies (especially those elusive Purple Emperors).

Ragged Robin said...

Anonymous - Thanks so much for the comment. Your story of your mum reminded me of my trip across the Millennium Bridge London - I just ran across it keeping to the very middle and refusing to look right or left! The last church tower I went up I just clung to the top of the steps refusing to look at the view!! York Minster I refused point blank to attempt - apparently you have to walk along a tiny walkway across the roof at one point :(

I think you are right about the treetop walk being better in summer and leaves obscuring the dreaded sheer drop! Not sure I would attempt it though - not even for a PE sighting! :)

CherryPie said...

Your woodland walk looks beautiful and relaxing. You have taken some great photos :-)

However I am not sure about the 'Fright Night'!!!

Ragged Robin said...

CherryPie - Thanks so much. It as a great woodland walk :)
"Fright Night" lived up to the title!!

Wendy said...

Salcey Forest looks a lovely place to visit and walk through at this time of year. I don't like heights but I have forced myself to go along a treetop walk to see the views. The Eleanor Crosses are so interesting to see because of the story behind them. When I visited Waltham Abbey recently I nearly went to see the one at Waltham Cross but didn't have the time in the end - I must go in the future. I love the look of the 'haunted hall' and the beeswax candle - I hope to make some myself over the winter.

Ragged Robin said...

Wendy - Thanks Wendy. Well done on going on one of those treetop walks! :) Hope you get chance to visit the Eleanor Cross at Waltham Cross soon - my son has been on about visiting one for years. Would love to see a photo of your beeswax candles - I also bought some nightlights to use at Christmas :)

Toffeeapple said...

Salcey Forest is quite near me, though I haven't been there for a while. The food is rather good in the Café, isn't it?

I would not even have tried that high walk - I don't have the knees for it.

Ragged Robin said...

Toffeeapple - Thanks so much. It must be lovely to live fairly close as I would imagine the forest looks beautiful in all seasons. D wanted a pub lunch but as it was nearing two I suggested that we might be too late! The soup was superb :)

Sorry to hear about the knees - must admit these days I struggle with stairs :(

CherryPie said...

Thankyou for the virtual woodland walk, it was so pretty. This year I didn't get the chance to find time to walk around the woodland beauty. I regret that, this year the autumn colours were exceptional.

Ragged Robin said...

CherryPie - thanks so much. To be honest if my son hadn't been so insistent I may not have gone on a woodland walk either. The colours were good though leaves seem to be disappearing fast with advent of colder weather!

amanda peters said...

Autumnal Woodland Walk at Salcey Forest, looks to be a lovely place, I to suffer from heights, but it would not have stopped me, the view looks stunning. The extra light coming through the trees and the strong colours of the leaves , makes everything look lovely.
It would be nice to see it in spring and summer if you get the chance.

As for the fright night , not for me at all. Before the kids I could watch scary moves and it did not bother me one bit. But now, no way. anything scary and I'm of the other way.
Amanda xx

Ragged Robin said...

Amanda Peters - Thanks so much Amanda. The first bit of the walkway wasn't too bad as long as I didn't look down! But I would never have got along the swaying bit or up those stairs! You are braver than me :) I would like to go back Spring/Summer especially as it is so good for butterflies - it is just over an hour from here so not too far. Would probably be quieter in the week though! Would also like to go Fermyn Woods - also in Northants but further away - as they are a hotspot for Purple Emperor!

Interesting what you say about scary movies after having children - my fear of heights got a lot worse after I'd had mine. Fright night to be honest was a bit too frightening for me (scarier than past ghost walks I have been on) - worst part was walking down flights and flights of stairs from the attics when it was quite dark. Was a bit worried I might fall! Aston Hall is interesting though so will try and go in daylight when they open fully again next year.

Millymollymandy said...

This place looks really enjoyable and I would have managed that walkway - so long as there is a barrier between me and the drop I am OK! I probably would have got vertigo coming down those steps though as I didn't like the photo very much. :-)

I have looked through your holiday photos very briefly - there is so much to see in Yorkshire, isn't there? I haven't even been to most of the famous places that you visited. I've just had the one holiday which covered driving around the Moors and Dales. This was donkey's years ago. I see much mention of cake.... yes I saw your comment on Twitter this morning, I just haven't got to replying yet!! Oh I wish I could get back my blogging mojo - I've so many photos to share, including earlier mini Moho trips from the summer. Sigh.

Ragged Robin said...

Millymollymandy - Thanks so much Mandy :) You would have been braver than me re: walkway :) I need a high barrier with no gaps so I can't see the drop!! David doesn't mind heights at all but I think he felt queasy over the stairway!

Yes, Yorkshire is superb and such a big County - you can spend a lifetime up there and not see it all! Definitely want to return. I do like my cake :) Not signed into my Twitter at the moment as I look after a twitter account for my son in the daytime (mainly relevant r/t's!).

Hope you feel more like blogging soon as I would so like to see all your photos. So enjoyed your last post.

I have little to blog about at present - I was carjacked a week and a bit ago. Can't go into details just in case they catch person responsible but I wasn't harmed although a frightening experience :( Consequently, we have no car at present and can't go anywhere which is a complete nightmare. "Amusing" myself doing an annual report for my mother's financial stuff - yawn :(

Millymollymandy said...

Sorry about the delay replying as I was waiting to get around to getting back on my proper computer, as it's so much easier and quicker to type a reply. Carjacked? That is awful! You just don't expect something like that, outside of major cities, and anyway that's always something that happens to other people (or in movies). Yikes! Sorry you are without your car (don't your insurance co. let you hire one? or is carjacking outside of their scope, probably, knowing insurance companies!). Well the weather is awful so you are not missing much. Take care!

Chris Rohrer said...

That is so beautiful! So many beautiful fall colors. I totally missed fall this year. No colors at all here:( I hope all is well with you! Chris

Chris Rohrer said...

I was just reading about your carjacking!!! Oh my! I am so sorry. No one should have to deal with this at all. I'm glad you are ok. I don't know what this world is coming to sometimes:(

Ragged Robin said...

Millymollymandy - Thanks so much Mandy and please don't apologise for the delay. I must admit I often don't get chance to check people's replies to my comment until they post again and I revisit! I can't believe it happened either - feels as though I am living in a bad dream! Would give you details but as mentioned in other comment I am not sure if it is a good thing to say too much in a public arena in case he is caught and it goes to court. Still waiting for insurance company to settle the claim. We would have got a hire car if it had been in an accident and in for repair or if in this case it had been recovered quickly and again gone in for repair if damage was done. But unless you pay a higher premium you don't get one automatically for a stolen car presumably because it takes weeks to settle and they don't want to pay out that long!!!!!Weather horrendous here today too! Thanks so much again for kind words and thoughts :)

Chris - Thanks so much for your good wishes and kind words. So sorry you missed your fall colours this year. Hope you are feeling a little better by the way.

Coquetnaturelover said...

I've just come across your lovely blog. What a wonderful autumn walk - the colours are beautiful. I enjoyed photographing fungi for a recent post of mine too but I've no idea how to start identifying it and I don't want to get it wrong!

Ragged Robin said...

Coquetnaturelover - Thanks so much for visiting my blog and leaving a comment. I will check out your fungi post - I find them hard to id even though I have a couple of id books! There is a website called i-spot where you post a photo and give a bit of information and with any luck someone will help with id. Thanks again.