It is a great time of year for walking in the woods and there are many ancient woodlands around here to choose from. Just across the field are Butlers Wood and Waldegrave Wood, both dating back to medieval times and associated with Butlers Hall - Thomas de Butler lived here in 1361 and Richard Waldegrave in the 1400's.
Although with some the footpaths tend to go round them rather than through them, there are a number that you can explore. Suffolk Wildlife Trust reserves include Arger Fen and Spouses Vale near Assington, Groton Woods at Groton and Bradfield Woods at Bradfield St George. All are worth a visit and each has its own character. Other woods that are close by include Clay Hill Woodland at Great Henny, Loshes Woodland at Loshes Meadow, both an easy walk, and Assington Thicks at Assington and Marks Hall Estate a little futher away.
Last week I went on a 'Walk and Draw' with the Colchester Ramblers to Hillhouse Wood, West Bergholt, which is maintained by the Woodland Trust who have a wood finder website Visitwoods. They also have Fordham Hall Estate Wood and Primrose Wood near Boxford. The Ramblers welcome people joining them on their walks and their programmes are easily found on their website. Locally there are three Ramblers groups - Sudbury, Colchester and the Stour Walking Group, the latter for people in their 20's-30's.
Hillhouse Wood is interesting with undulating woodland and a rich variety of flora and fauna. The wood was carpeted with bluebells and swathes of wild garlic or rampons with their lush garlicky smell. There were also a few beautifully deep magenta spotted orchids which were quite a treat to see. I was also amazed at the trees flowering - both oak and hornbeam with masses of blossom as the leaves were just starting to form
The days are so much longer and there are signs of Spring everywhere - lambs at the next farm, hares in the fields, early blossom and flowers. It is beginning to warm up and won't be long until Easter. There is an interesting Spring Festival happening over Easter near Aldeburgh - the Alde Valley Spring Festival with the theme this year 'Food, Gardens and the Land' www.aldevalleyspringfestival.co.uk The boats will soon be back at Mersea Island as the sailing season will be starting next month.