Forest wandering can be a magical experience when exploring the planet on foot. I moved recently to the north west of England with a goal to travel closer to home. Delamere forest is the largest area of woodland in Cheshire and was high on my list to visit. This weekend I walked through two seasons there in one day. A perfect example of why I’m opening my eyes to what’s on my doorstep.
The forest hugs the road that leads through the villages just outside Chester. Vibrant ambers glow with flaming reds on either side, warming up the chilly car ride. It’s this riot of colour that makes it worth unwrapping myself from a blanket and journeying out on a day that’s below freezing. Birds of prey linger in the trees as I pass and it doesn’t take long before I’m itching to stop the car and start wandering.
I’m not used to the cold in the north of England yet. It has a more biting chill than is ever experienced in London. London tends to be warmer than the rest of the UK, but the north is also known to be colder than anywhere in the south. In the last week frost has crept onto the car windscreen and steamy breath is visible as people walk along. However, I’ve made a pact that I will continue wandering and exploring whatever the weather – because that’s what I would do if travelling abroad! I read that ‘Delamere’ means “forest of the lakes” and I’m keen to see a watery view today.
Autumn holds on
It seems like only a few weeks since the tawny colours of autumn arrived. Parts of this forest aren’t ready to shed their crisp gold and bronze party costumes yet. They still stand tall and bright despite the cold. This is the forest’s most colourful season and they want to hold on to it as long as possible.
There’s a thick area of forest down to the right and I notice small gap. I amble down the narrow path off the main route, curious to seek out what may hidden in the foliage. Sticky branches pull at my jeans and squelchy mud oozes icily over the holes in my long suffering walking shoes. But it’s worth it for the reward. At the end of the path lies a secret unseen by the more sensible walkers above.
Winter is just around the corner
Turning a corner leads to an opening draped in the silver and deep blue of winter. Solid ice steams into a mist hovering above the slowly decaying leafy blanket that coats the forest floor. Even the light in this part of the forest is different. Cold and dark, an eerie silence surrounds me and every step creates an echo across the frozen lake.
This path has led me straight into winter without even a moment’s warning.
Tiny white frosticles on leaves and the impenetrable frozen surface of the water begin dreams in my mind of hot water bottles, piping hot soup with thick crusty bread and hot chocolate from a favourite mug. It’s suddenly that time of year again for proudly wearing llama hats from Bolivia and my thick mittens from Chile. The autumn shindig is coming to an end, and the winter wonderland is ready to open for business.
Walk through the seasons
Take a walk through the seasons with me. These pictures were all taken a few steps away from each other in the forest. 2 seasons in just one day.
Icy Winter Lake
With both seasons happening at the same time, the inhabitants of the forest aren’t sure what to do.
What’s your favourite season for forest walking?
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