Dymock Woods SSSI - Daffodil Delight
Updated: Jan 31, 2022
(Nearest post code - GL18 2BE)
Sometimes when the sky is grey and the clouds are threatening rain, then the best place to walk, is in the woods, under the cover of the trees. One of the local woods which provides such shelter is Dymock Woods SSSI in Gloucestershire and this is part of the larger Dymock Forest. Over the years I have come here with all of my dog mates - Pumpkin, Bruno and of course my old friend Zak.
From experience I know that one of the best times to come here is in late springtime when you will find that the ground is carpeted with bright yellow wild daffodils.
But that is not the only reason that the woods are so special. The main type of tree that you find here are sessile oaks -so called because the acorns do not have stalks and are directly attached to the tree. These trees grow on the site of ancient woodland so there would have been trees growing naturally here from before 1600 that is when Queen Elizabeth 1 was on the throne. There is a whole legion of plants that only grow in ancient woodlands - plants like yellow archangel which is very like a yellow nettle and dogs mercury with its tiny greenish flowers . You can also find lily of the valley and woodruff.
Such a rich and diverse - and well-established habitat - supports a huge number of butterflies and over 400 species of moths, some of which have amazing names like satin lutestring and the oak beauty.
When I came here with Zak in early June the aspect was quite different to that of the spring. The main tracks were quite hot to the most tender parts of our paws, but other grass-covered side paths allowed us to escape the harsh glare of the summer sun. Here cool, green-tinged light bathed the ground. There was a sweet perfume of meadow sweet in the air and squadrons of butterflies, bees and other flying insects flew around in pursuit of sweet-tasting nectar. We trotted along the paths, stick in mouths, eager to explore.
With the wind in our ears our noses were assailed by all of the scents and aromas of the woodland. In places the grass had been worn away and the tell tale signs of horses were etched into the red sandstone soil.
Our human tried in vain to take a photograph of a red admiral butterfly which had landed on the unopened buds of a hemp agrimony flower, but it steadfastly refused to reveal its true colours These flowers are sometimes called raspberries and cream’ because when the flowers opens in July they reveal a delightful froth of pale pink blossom.
The wood ants were very active today marching in their legions across the path. Zak and I were anxious to keep moving so as to avoid the painful ant bites on our tender regions.
We saw two enormous ant nests - swarming with life and avoided those too!! The huge piles of tree debris and ants were a bustle of activity in contrast to the general peace and serenity of the woods.
However, aside from the buzz of aerial insects, the rumble of motorway traffic was never far away.
All day long, people whizz past in their metal boxes and are totally unaware of the tranquillity that they could find at only a stone's throw away. As they hurtle past we dogs and our humans can savour life at our own pace - "Can anyone throw us a stick please?"