Walking in the Ancient Woodland

Last Winter I read Kate Mosse's collection of short stories, The Mistletoe Bride and other Haunting Tales.  The author has lived in Brittany and the Languedoc regions of France but grew up in West Sussex and has used the geography and traditional tales of these areas to influence her story-telling.

One of her stories was inspired by Kingley Vale, an ancient woodland lying North of Chichester just below the South Downs.  The woodland is part of a National Nature Reserve and is the home of many ancient yew trees (said to be the oldest in Europe).  

We happened to visit on a particularly hot August day and the coolness of the woodland was a welcome break from the hot sun - if a little eerie at times ...

Yew tree bark - looking like an ordnance survey map

The ancient trees develop holes and hollowed out centres which make them difficult to age as there are no rings to count.  Some trees even had the appearance of faces - this one reminded us of Munch's famous painting, The Scream.

If those trees could talk, the stories they could tell ...


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