My recent wanders seem to have shown a different side to the woodlands from my usual peaceful meanderings after twilight. Arrangements and appointments have left me walking in the early morning and early evenings during daylight hours, with the light I decided to reacquaint myself with area of the wood I normally steer clear of. It would appear little has changed in the areas accessible by vehicles. A usual array of closely parked clandestine vehicles with shady sorts talking in hushed voices positioned themselves just off the car park road under cover of the tree canopy and foliage. Heads turned and conversations stopped as I passed by. One of the trees was adorned with the the word "weed" painted in red paint across its trunk and patches of fast food litter lay about where I suspect they had been cast from parked car windows.
Once away from the vehicles and road the serenity of the woods returned. The clatter of the wood pigeons wings was the only sound to raise itself above the gentle breeze in the trees, the shafts of sunlight seemed to shift and move in time with the movement of air. Many of the smaller paths had become choked with undergrowth leaving only the main paths clear and easily passible. I headed for a place where an old watch tower once stood but was disappointed to find only the rotten remains of its main structure ripped to the ground and scattered among the trees. On finally finding a clear small path I decided to change course and found myself treading carefully around deep tire ruts from heavy machinery which had long since passed by. At the paths end I appeared at a small car park deep within the woods. One vehicle positioned itself at the head of the car park, its owner gawping at me out of an open window with his head resonating with the battering of drum and base from a stereo possibly more powerful than the engine. I returned to the smaller tracks and made my way round and back in the direction of home.
Again the serenity of the woods returned to me like a welcome shroud, I found myself stepping over small fallen branches and ducking beneath the low canopy. One of my dog pack stopped to scoff a few blackberries from a trail side bramble, I have had the company of many dogs over the years but he has been the first to show me such a skill and never a cut mouth from the thorns close by the fruit. With the walk approaching an end I found the trail passing through a ditch. The summer had left the bottom of the ditch quite dry but the presence and arrangement of planks showed the footholds to avoid topping out a boot in the winter months. To the side a makeshift fence or handrail had been dug into the sides of the ditch. Standing in the bottom of the ditch it seemed the world was a silent place barely touched by the wind overhead, after enjoying the peace for a moment I carried on, back towards the car park area where stares and uneasy sideways glances would await my passing intrusion on in the world of the secretive and unwelcoming watchers.