Earlier in the year we visited Highgate Wood in North London for the first time*. It was April, the trees were still bare and we realised that another visit in summer would be necessary to see this ancient woodland at its best. We returned last week*, during a period of hot sunny* weather, which meant, of course, lots of photos of sunlight streaming through the green canopy. Highgate Hill is one of the highest points in London at 136 metres above sea level and the woodland is situated on the north side of Highgate Village. It was part of the original Forest of Middlesex and in the 16th century was known as “Brewer’s Fell.” In 1863 it was named Gravelpit Wood and when the City of London Corporation acquired it in 1886 it was given its present name.
* Omission phrases "for (the) first time" "las(t w)eek"
* "sun/sunny" and "snow/snowy" should always be vocalised, but here it is obvious which it is
|Archaelogical finds - flints,|
amber and sharks' teeth
In the middle is a large clear area of grass used for sports, with the Pavilion Cafe in one corner and seats under the trees for families to have their picnics and snacks. There is also a very informative wildlife information centre in a long wooden cabin. It is filled with photos and identification* charts of the animal and plant life, and posters showing the prehistory and geology of the area, as well as many children’s drawings and paintings.
After perusing all this, it was time for our sandwiches and we settled on a circular tree seat nearby. Here we had a close encounter with our least favourite item of wildlife, two wasps who became interested in our food. They had obviously read the information in the cabin and assumed that we humans* wanted to feed, preserve and admire them at close quarters. We knew that waving our hands about would only inflame them into more aggressive behaviour, so we had to just stroll away, finishing the last bites on the move.
* "identifi(ca)tion" Contraction omitting a syllable
* "human" above the line, to differentiate it from "humane"
All the dead wood that accumulates on the ground is tidied up and placed in bundles around the woodland, where it is left to decay, in order to encourage the fungi and insects. Some of it is formed into wigwam shapes, ready to be explored by the children, and some is left in long strips piled up alongside the paths. One tree was encircled by a low wall of neatly arranged branches. In the past this might have been cleared away but in parks nowadays branches and felled logs are left on the ground, away from the paths. As we continued our circular route back towards the exit gate, I thought how interesting it would all look after a snowfall, but I think that idea is one that will remain unexplored, and any forays into a winter landscape under the trees will be confined to my local areas of woodland. (604 words)