The Wild Side of Withy Wood.

Sunrise: 08.04 Sunset: 03.56

This track leads to the wild side, between Hoo Wood to the left, and the flooded Withy Wood to the right.

The trees grow very close together in Withy Wood. To get in and out I have to turn sideways, force long slender tree trunks apart and ease myself through. There are mysterious things and wondrous places hidden deep within this wood. The trees growing in the mud have not been planted by any human being; they are naturally seeded, and take advantage of nutrients built-up and stored over decades in this once sugar factory settling lagoon. It is not difficult to imagine myself in another part of the world when mooching about in Withy Wood. It’s very easy, though, to lose oneself amongst the tightly packed willow, alder, and birch poles growing out of the shallow lake.

Under murky water, various traps wait to catch the unwary by sucking them down into the fetid mud. It is impossible to walk a straight line, but all too easy to stumble around in circles and wander hopelessly lost for an hour or more.

At night-time the feeling of apprehension can escalate beyond belief; all noises are exaggerated and amplified; the animals appear larger and strangely fierce, and the lake bed undulates, wobbles and threatens to give way with every step – it’s like trying to walk on a rice pudding skin. After spending half an hour in this unholy place, you could emerge a nervous wreck; if indeed you were to emerge at all.

Carcasses float between the tree trunks, a dead deer or a drowned badger, giving off pungent and unpleasant odours when kicked or stood upon. There are many passages between the trees that lead to dead ends; retracing steps is impossible. Unless you have a compass, determining any direction is not an option. So, getting out of Withy Wood might be matter of luck and sheer determination; however, salvation in easier in daytime than at night. I suppose warning signs might be a good idea: BEWARE ALL THAT ENTER HERE!

Well, writing this post is bringing back unpleasant past experiences of Withy Wood and, if truth be told, is putting the wind up me, so I am going to quit whilst there is still a chance of my sleeping tonight.


4 Comments on “The Wild Side of Withy Wood.

  1. This is an intriguing post —not only the beautifully composed image that draws the viewer along the road — but the narrative. Evocative description; I especially like “…the lake bed undulates, wobbles and threatens to give way with every step – it’s like trying to walk on a rice pudding skin.” And one can feel — and follow — your mood as it slips from wonder into wariness, and ultimately into the apprehension we so often feel in the dark, especially in wild places. Nice work!


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