Dog Hill Wood Ledbury in summer
Last week I returned with my camera to Dog Hill Wood, Ledbury as a part of my continuing exploration of these semi-ancient woodlands throughout the seasons.
Since I walk my dogs in the woods every week I get the chance to examine how it changes, and I have the time to think about what elements of the woodland capture my attention the most. Summer seems the right time to examine people’s interaction with the natural landscape.
Despite there not being any people in the photographs, the evidence of people’s effect on the woodland is everywhere. Centuries or even millennia ago people marked this bit of woods as separate from surrounding woodland – they named it, set its boundaries, made use of its resources for fuel and building materials, and used it for recreation and relaxation, unconsciously, perhaps, aware of the necessity of contact with nature to lift the human spirit – an understanding too often lost in our modern world.
Today the quarrying has ended and the woods are only managed lightly, but this is still not a wild landscape. People walk their dogs in the woods (appropriately), riders on horses saunter down Green Lane, children ride their bikes along the trails, and sometimes people just sit and relax on a bench listening to the wind rustling the leaves. And so my photographs of Dog Hill Wood in the summer are the places that people sit and make use of the woods for that lifting of spirits that only nature can provide.
Some of the benches are old and rusting, others are rotting away, and still others are just the remains of the supports where benches used to be – a reminder that the woods have changed over the decades, even if we don’t see the slow alterations of time as they happen. But other benches have been repaired, the fresh wood still bright and unweathered, ready for the slow changes in the decades to come.
I’m about to get ready to take my dogs into the woods for their afternoon walk. Perhaps I’ll sit on a bench for a moment and listen to the wind rustling the leaves.