The phone rang this mid-morning and my friend’s voice said “We are going to Clapham Woods for a walk would you like to come”, I jumped at the opportunity for a crisp walk on a cold, sunny, Sunday morning. I threw on my boots, grabbed my camera and joined the others to head off to Clapham Woods.
If you were to Google Clapham Woods, you would find a plethora of websites about the Woods in connection with the Occult, from Druids and Pagan rituals through to sighted UFOs. It is nevertheless a pleasant countryside walk through the South Downs in West Sussex, consisting of woodland, heathland and views, marred only by the traffic noise in the background rising from the A27.
Having debated whether collecting holly was illegal, and deciding that it wasn’t, my friends set off to look for holly with berries. By way of interest I have since checked and there are no conservation issues on collecting holly and ivy, in moderation, as long as it is not on private land. This is also true of picking berries, for personal use, on rights of way and footpaths. Of course, those foragers among you will know that already.
While the others trooped off to find their berry laden holly, I stopped to take some photos of the frost covered leaves on woodland floor.
The thistles looked like Christmas stars sprinkled over the ground.
I loved the sweep of the furrows on this tree trunk that was lying on the ground.
Fortunately one of our party had a red scarf on so I was very quickly able to catch up with them.
On the edge of the wood there is this lovely solid wood bench, securely fixed to the ground with a heavy duty chain and padlock. It’s difficult to imagine that someone would carry this through the wood as a ‘take-away’, but clearly it was thought it might happen.
As we continued our search for holly with berries, I was beginning to feel less deprived due to the lack of berries on my holly at home. Although there was an abundance of holly, there was not a berry to be seen, so we decided to head off home.
Then the cry rose into the air: “Berries!!”
Two trees, just as we were leaving the Wood, had berries on them. A successful walk, which cleared the head and my friends have red and green foliage to decorate their homes this Christmas.
There was not a druid, witch, signs of a satanic cult or UFO in sight either.