This afternoon I was in my element walking with friends in Epping Forest.
For over thirty years Epping Forest has been a favourite woodland area of mine, offering a wonderful escape from urban life. The largest public open space in the London area (12 miles from North to South), it has a long history, going back to the 12th Century when it was known as Waltham Forest and was thought to have first legally become a Royal Forest. This status gave Commoners various rights including pollarding the trees for firewood. In the 19th Century commoners revolted as landowners enclosed their land, so in 1878 the Epping Forest Act was passed to save the land from enclosures. Care of the forest was handed over to the City of London Corporation as Conservators. This act stated that they must "at all times keep Epping Forest unenclosed and unbuilt on as an open space for the recreation and enjoyment of the people". In this Act one of the privileges the commoners lost was pollarding the trees which has resulted in some growing multi- trunks from the trunk originally pollarded:
The Forest consists largely of Beeches, Hornbeams, Oaks, Silver Birches and Holly trees. However, the trees I photographed this afternoon were just ones that attracted me by their individuality- whether caused by the light or by their formation.
I first came across Hornbeams in my childhood on the Malvern Hills. I always felt the name was appropriate as they reminded me of the discarded Red Deer antlers we used to find in the Scottish deer forests. Here is a Hornbeam:
And here is the trunk of a Beech tree that I just liked for its' design:
And this Beech for the patterns made by the Ivy:
I loved the shadows of leaves on the next Beech:
And in the following group of trees it was both the individuality of the shapes of the trees together with their shadows that caught my eye:
One of the factors that makes Epping Forest so enjoyable is that it is not highly "manicured" and you constantly see trees in various states of interesting decay, which is, of course, highly valuable environmentally. Birds, insects and fungi all benefit from these trees:
And I will conclude with one of the many fallen trees, always a great attraction to children- as well as adults!