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A day in the woods

There’s something about getting g out in the woods no matter what the weather is come rain or shine it makes no difference to me, the rain is something that I have grown up with here in England so it’s kind of the norm.
My trip always starts off with deciding what kit I want to take and what I will be doing out in the woods. For the most part I have three bags already packed and ready to go with only exception of filling up the water bottles and putting in a few nibbles for the day.

My complete packs afford me the time I don’t have in the middle of the busy hustle and bustle days in the week. For me I spend the time packing and checking the bags contents when I have the time rather than when I need to just get out. I suppose what makes it easier for me is having the duplicates of each item or maybe more, this allows me to really get to know my kit and use just what I know rather than adding new bits of kit to test.
The sun does not shine when I leave in the mornings for the woods, I think I enjoy watching the sun come up and enjoy listening to the bird song start when I’m there rather than crashing in on the symphony. In the winter the days are shorter and the darkness takes over most of the time you are out so its always best to sort camp out early and make previsions ready, like head torches, spare batteries, bivvi markers and sorting out the night time brew kit!

Whether you make you camp with a separate fire pit area or you have it next to your camp, you should always be sure to mark it well so that during the night when you wonder out for the toilet or you take a midnight stroll there’s some sort of way back to camp. I and many others have great campfire stories that will make you laugh, having walked around in circles to find my camp in the total pitch black in the past I always make previsions to make sure it never happens again. Something as simple as always carrying your headtorch, I carry mine around my neck when I know it’s about to get dark, I also keep it there when I sleep in my hammock it’s not in the way and I hardly know it’s there until I need it.

Having grabbed my overnight bag and jumped on the night bus to my favourite woodland I arrived very early most of the walk there has no street lighting and is riddled with pot holes in the tarmac all the way to the broken footpath that takes you across a few fields then into a ancient woodland. I always have a plan for where I want to camp or at least a few ideas just in case something has happened to the area.

I arrive with good time as its still dark, time to set up a small seating area and hang my kit up on the closest tree. The Damp usually sets in soon so whatever I don’t need to be out of my rucksack gets packed away. Now is the time I stick my stove on regardless of actually wanting a brew at that time, after a while of sitting around in the cold your sure to be thankful that you planned a head.
As im sipping my brew the sun starts to appear on the horizon, it’s the sight I came here for, the orange/red sky coming to life with the sound of the native bird species erupting into their morning chorus. I don’t normally pack a warm breakfast for the first day as I can snack on a few breakfast bars and drink a few hot brews this cuts down what I have to do when I first arrive at the woods. I just like to immerse myself when I first turn up then when I’m chilled out I start the day with a walk around the woods.

Seeing what’s around to forage for food or snacks, also looking for wildlife or at least signs of what they have been up to in the vicinity. Getting to know the woods you plan on sleeping in is very important no matter what country you are in, whether you are looking for security reasons or just to be “in the know” it’s well worth the walk.
I love to photograph the woods and its wildlife too, to be able to get the shots you want out there can be hard, you need to be quiet, sitting still or walking very slowly so as not to crash around and scare everything off. There are the odd few animals that will not be scared of human interaction these are the species that generally come into contact a lot during the day, near parks or large fields these animals have the tendency to beg for food as they have been fed before or at least “forage” their own from bins or tips.

For me these are not the animals I’m looking to photograph it’s the rare species that I’m more interested in, birds of prey, stoats, otters and badgers in my area and maybe the little egrets fishing in the local woodland ponds. Having grown up in the area I have seen the decline in certain species but also have witnessed when species return to the woods after many years like the Adder and grass snakes.

The local forest managers were hard at work in the small woodland 5 acres away, which is on the way in and out of my woods via a separate path. They have been clearing out the sycamore and some chestnut trees which has left the land water logged and very swampy, but just up from most of the work they have cleared out a pond which has now filled with wildlife, small stickle backs, herons, mallards, moorhens and coots have got their foot in. Last summer I heard that the pond had filled with toads but I never got the chance to get around there.

I had spent the day walking around visiting the few granite monuments in and around the woods, scouting possible water sources for later on in the year and taking in the surroundings. I normally find a good sit spot away from everyone in these woods in the afternoon but this time I decided on a new wooden bench that was on the bank at the side of a main footpath. The woods does see a lot of traffic on these paths but today was different it was quiet; there were no dogs, no human shouting out for their dogs just nothing that could distract you from the woods. I was interrupted by the occasional horse and its rider but that is a sight that brings life to the woods, a local training school runs courses not far from the woods.
It had been a very slow but eventful day in my favourite woods, lots taken in and lots of photos taken. A day in the woods can make a huge difference in our lifestyles today getting away from the fast pace of the rat race calms the body.
I ended my day with the sun going down on the horizon overlooking the farmland full of cows it really was a wonderful sight. I ended up walking out of the woods by torch light, it is the best way to “be” in the woods entering in the early hours of the morning and leaving in the late evening when the sun is down.

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