Following on our new taste of foraging mushroom last year, plan for this year includes a visit to Dorothy Farrer’s Spring Wood. Travel to the site takes about an hour and a half from Liverpool. In order to have a glimpse of a full blossom of blue bells, we made an early visit at the beginning of May which also falls in the May Bank Holiday here.
We set off at 7:30 a.m., due to the weekend holiday traffic, there was hardly any volume of traffic on the road. What a refreshing change! Including a comfort break at the service station along M6 motorway, we were well ahead of our schedule.
Dorothy Farrer’s Spring Wood is managed by Cumbria Wildlife Trust. It is made up of three separate areas of woodland: High Wood, Dorothy Farrer’s Spring Wood and Beddard’s Wood. It is said that these three areas have been managed as coppice woodland in the past. Timber from the coppicing was used for bobbins, swill baskets and charcoal. Although we didn’t see much evidence of charcoal production, lots of lodges stored in the nature reserve areas.
Spring is supposed to be a great time to visit when bluebells carpet much of the woodland floor, and you can see patches of wild garlic, early purple orchids and the scarcer herb paris. Walking in the woodland certainly noticed birds were alive and kicking, well singing.
The entrance of the wood is by the side of a narrow country lane. After passing through the gate, we saw some blue bells but not as many as we hoped for. Walking towards the woodland area, there were indeed a lot more wild garlic leaves with some patches of blue bell. Talking to a local resident confirmed our suspicion: early summer in the UK was still too cold for their full blossom. We admired him that such a wonderful nature was right at the back of his garden, in fact, the whole woodland was his back garden. Alongside to his house, he had a manual machine to trim wood and make some wood crafts. Last year the whole area was fully covered with bluebells and it was a spectacular scene. We learnt it from the web and decided it would be our first destination this year. We also learnt that if we were 30 minutes earlier, we would have seen a wild deer, that would be a real treat. I only came across one when I was travelling on a motorcycle between the boarder of France and Switzerland near sunrise few years ago. The wild deer stood only three meters away from me and stared at the motorcycle (or me?).
We decided to take some photos and had a good walk about the woodland. Just before we left, we also picked some wild garlic leaves which were extremely crunchy, full of flavour and very, very fresh indeed. We only picked a few as we learnt that we should only pick modestly and ethically so that other visitors could enjoy the environment as much as we do. By the time we were leaving, it started to rain, lucky us.
Were we disappointed, of course not. We understand it is a part of nature: flowers and plants come in season, they are not set up at a specific time for public view. Sometimes we might miss, that just adds on the expectation and eventual excitement when we do see them. If you have a chance to go outdoor and close to the nature, do it, and enjoy it!