Sometimes when you come across an undiscovered gem of a place you want to tell everyone about it. But then you have a double take in case your secret spreads too far and wide. Part of you wants to keep this special place just for the lucky souls that have stumbled across it.
I’ve just found such a place. It’s not that far from the beautiful city of Bath and yet you could be a million miles away. The first time that I came across it was as daylight was turning to dusk on the last day of 2013. A majestic sunset made this discovery even more magical as the last day of the year began to fade over Solsbury Hill.
It’s a place that I’ve passed often. It’s somewhere that intrigued me for a while: a place that I wanted to discover. And yet it was a casual thought of what to do on a slightly damp day with the heavy December rains so dominating the festive season. This new favourite place became so by accident. It wasn’t some long planned trip – it was finally discovered as a result of looking for somewhere to go and the deep recesses of my mind homing in on this secret green space.
In winter you see a place in its rawest state: there is nowhere for it to hide from your gaze. It gives you the freedom to imagine its natural bounty in the seasons of plenty when the weather is hopefully that much kinder and nature comes alive. And yet the starkness of winter can give places a feeling unique to the season that we tend to tolerate rather than love.
Strolling through the freshly erected gates we headed for the woodland. The paths were drenched from days of persistent rain but the sticky conditions failed to deter us from stumbling into a woodland that fires the imagination and has wildness and untidiness that attracts the human eye and lifts the soul. Trees were awash with rich mosses and lichens and numerous fungi clung to the deadwood. You could immediately fast forward through the four seasons to get a flavour of the spring woodland flowers creating a tapestry effect to the lushness of canopy full of summer leaves.
Natural springs trickled into crystal clear streams and you had to stretch and duck to make your way through the network of trees. Reaching the common you felt alive and excited about the prospect of coming back to this natural wonder. And we have been back re-tracing our steps and extending our range of discovery. When you do come across a new place that you instantly connect with it’s a very special moment to be treasured for life. If you think for a moment you’ll have somewhere that feels as though you’ve always known it; a place away from the treadmill of life and a place to be close to and immersed in the natural world.