For the past few days I have been suffering from a bad muscle spasm in my lower back so have been unable to work let alone go for a nice walk. But yesterday afternoon I was feeling more mobile so I decided to head out and have a gentle walk somewhere nearby and easy. Luckily for me I have a lot of venues near me to choose from and opted to have a walk around Pound Wood in Thundersley, somewhere I have driven past many times but not actually stopped to explore before. Pound Wood is managed by the Essex Wildlife Trust who have turned this neglected woodland into a beautiful nature reserve through significant habitat improvement including coppicing certain areas to help create bio-diversity. Pound Wood is one of the largest remaining areas of ancient woodland in South East Essex, this reserve is one of the few sites in the UK where the Heath Fritillary butterfly is flourishing and there are good examples of medieval wood banks with several ponds and dells dotted around the woodland. Unfortunately there is no car park for this nature reserve so you have to park either by the entrance gates to the woods or in a lay-by just past the entrance.
It was quite warm and sunny as I walked along the edge of field towards the entrance to the actual woodlands but as soon as I entered the woodlands themselves I was nicely shaded from the sun by the canopy of the trees. Walking along one of the designated tracks I was soon surrounded by numerous species of trees, Sweet Chestnut, Oak and I think Hazel but I am no tree expert, and I could hear a buzzard calling nearby by unfortunately I couldn’t see where it was due to the trees being so thick. Every so often a squirrel would scurry across the path and shinny up a tree to safety and I could also hear them calling and running through the tree tops. After 10 minutes I came to a small cleared area with a bench in it so decided this would be a good spot to have a sit down, a drink of water and my lunch.
After I had finished my lunch I chucked my backpack over my shoulders and strolled off along the track deeper into the woods. There was a real feeling of calm beneath the trees, which grew above your head practically everywhere, and you would forgiven for forgetting that you were no more than a few hundred yards away from the busy Arterial road. As I rounded a corner a couple of pigeons made me jump as they clattered out of some low hanging branches just above my head and they in turn spooked a gorgeous Jay from a bush further along the path. More squirrels crossed my path as I walked further along the pathway, I can never get close enough to them to be able to take a decent photograph, one day I will plot up somewhere with my big camera and intentionally photograph them. I had my eyes open for wild mushrooms as this woodland is meant to be a good place to forage for them, I didn’t find any, when I found a nice spread of WOOD SORREL, I have written about this delicate little plant elsewhere on my blog, and I could not resist pulling a few and having a little nibble.
There is a small stream that runs through the woodland, a small pond too but I did not come across that on this visit, so where the path crosses it log bridges have been built which are nicely rustic to keep in tune with the surroundings. Every so often along the path there would be a numbered post which is part of a nature trail leading around the woods and has a small amount of information about the area around it. Also dotted here and there are plaques describing when that areas stand of trees was last coppiced, which I think is pretty good to see. I wandered up one path then along another then ambled along a different track so did not have clue where about in the woodlands I actually was but I did stumble across a small ‘clearing’ which had some quite striking trees growing around it. This clearing also had another seating area and next to this was a tree stump which had plaques nailed to it with another stating ‘In Memory Of Pound Wood Volunteers’ which I thought was lovely gesture.
Before long I was back at the entrance of the woodland and back out into the bright sunshine. I had thoroughly enjoyed my stroll around this small ancient woodland and will definitely be returning for further exploration. In fact I will be back there mid October when the Sweet Chestnuts are ready to harvest and hopefully I will also find a few edible mushrooms.