Acorns and conkers from an ancient wood

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I don’t know about you but there are few things in life that feel me with awe more than an ancient tree. We ourselves are generally living longer but even now notching up a century for us humans usually deserves a round of applause and a letter from the Queen. So to see a mighty Oak that was already a mature tree when the first Queen Elizabeth was on the throne demands at the very least a great deal of respect. And in Hatfield Forest we should, if you’ll excuse the pun (well almost), have a field day as there are hundreds of these majestic giants with their bizarre twisted boughs, huge crowns of branches and knarled and potted barks.

Hopefully one of our walkers will be an expert but regardless of whether we can identify the trees in this unique habitat or not,I am sure the walk will be particularly rewarding as the trees turn from green to their autumn colours. And such weird shapes to enjoy and photograph as well as the prolific bird life and if we’re lucky the sight of the forest herds of deer.

Now I have to confess that walking in Hatfield Forest presents me with a challenge because although I spent the best part of a day there doing the “recky” the lack of street signs or indeed any signs meant that on the day of the “recky” I passed one giant hornbeam at least 5 times! Still it should be fun trying to find our way back to the cars .

This is a lovely walk with a wide range of gentle landscapes and the perfect antidote to a stressful week at work. Gentle hills, pastures and woods of all types, wide grassy rides and everywhere nature showing off and cocking a snoot at the jets from nearby Stanstead Airport.

I chose a particularly busy day to go to Hatfield Forest. It was the annual Woodfest – a festival of all things wooden. So there were thousands of families enjoying the festival, amplified folk groups playing from a marquee and dozens of stalls flogging wooden furniture, wooden sculptures and just about everything else you could imagine being made from wood. But as is always the case walk ten minutes from the centre of all the activity and I found myself alone with those magnificent trees.

There are of course some highlights that we must not miss. The oldest oak, the site of the doodle oak, the iron age camp and so on. And then a walk along one of Dr. Beechings discarded railway lines and across fields to enjoy the wide open horizons of the Essex skies. Delicious!

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