Tree Routes

Tree Routes

If a tree falls in Ashridge Forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?

Shaking myself out of the winter slumber, I headed into Ashridge during the recent unseasonably warm weather. The forest was full with noisy life shaking off a winter slumber. The ambient light is washed out with remnants of a winter hue, with just a hint of green and clumps of spring flowers.

Avenue of trees
Foresters Walk follows an estate boundary

The forest is one of my favourite places to spend time enjoying the woodland throughout the year. I have followed so many animal trails and footpaths, visiting regularly and finding something new each time.  Located on the Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire borders, the Ashridge Estate is a seamless mixture of beechwoods, chalk downland, meadows, isolated buildings and small farms. It is a huge privilege to have access to this special place.

The mud was not too horrendous, so picking my way around fallen trees and storm debris not too slippery! Leo naturally heads for all the puddles.

along a route in Ashridge
A once busy barn is now quiet

Lumps and Bumps

This walk was all about the magnificent trees: big, small, young, ancient, bent, decaying, lightening-stuck or toppled. Before the foliage takes centre stage, I could image in a world turned upside down with their branches like their roots now pointing to the sky. Now it’s all about textures, lumps, bumps, moss and carvings, the various trees stand out including; cherry, beech, oak, chestnut, holly, conifers, hornbeams and ash trees. There will be others, but I don’t know their names.

The rat-a-tat of a woodpecker, squirrels making a racket as they race down tree trunks, along the floor, over the fallen trees and back up another tree.  The landscape is exposed, open, with old boundaries and ditches visible. The birds busy themselves with protecting territories and preparing for the next generation to claim the forest.  

The greening of the forest starts from the ground up; splashes of coltsfoot and winter aconite yellow, dog violet purple contrasts with the faded snowdrops and the emerging nettles. Bluebell shoots are widespread, the promise of colour in late spring before the leaf cover shuts out the light. 

If a tree falls in Ashridge Forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?

A corgi and a felled tree
Tree down

I’m surprised I didn’t hear the crashing trees as I only live a few miles away! Many of the old, majestic trees survived storm Eunice on February 18th, whilst some lie smashed on the ground, blocking paths, or narrowly missing trees, fences, gates and other obstacles.

Tree routes in Ashridge
Missing its neighbour, this tree exploded as it hit the ground

Tidying up is underway, but a tidy forest is not a healthy forest; nutrients from decaying trees are absorbed back into the woodland ecosystem, animals will find new homes and children will create more dens and castles.

Trees in ashridge
A tree repurposed

This brown woodland will soon be transformed into shades of fresh green and bluebell blue.

Bluebells in ashridge
Ashridge Bluebells

Further Information

I have written extensively about the beautiful Ashridge Estate, you can read more here: do trees fall uphill? Winter shadows or pause awhile in the forest.

Spring in the Chiltern hills is the season when we shake off the gloom of winter and look forward to renewal. It’s the skylarks, snowdrops and then bluebells that increases the heart rate and knowledge that spring is not far off.

Take bluebells home with you when you buy from our range of Chilterns Gifts and Souvenirs.

Chilterns Gifts
Beautiful bluebells

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