Saturday, May 28, 2016

The Cotswolds - Eynsham

The Square in Eynsham village in Oxfordshire by Martyn Ferry Photography

In the occasional series of tours around some the Oxfordshire Cotswolds more picturesque villages we visit Eynsham.

Eynsham is pronounced "Ensham". The spelling was changed by the Post Office in the 19th century, as it was constantly getting confused with Evesham. The origin of the name is a bit uncertain; 'ham' means meadow - and the 'En" may - or may not - be a contraction of somebody's name. 

Before humans arrived though, the area was occupied by mammoths. In the gravel pits just south of Eynsham, a large number of mammoth bones have been dug up over the past 10 years.

A causeway made of pebbles and stones was discovered recently near Eynsham by the A40 gravel pits. It probably dates from about 4,000 years ago - so it's one of the very earliest human constructions in Britain that survives.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

West Woods Bluebells

Bluebells at West Woods in Marlborough by Martyn Ferry Photography

Recently I took a trip down to Marlborough to visit the West Woods in their full bluebell glory. West Woods is a plantation of beech trees on a former ancient woodland site, managed by the Forestry Commission.

Until around 1300 West Woods was part of Savernake Forest, but now, along with Savernake and Collingbourne Woods, form Marlborough Woodland. West Woods is one-fifth of the size of Savernake Forest, and was clear-felled in 1928, leaving only a few Ancient and Veteran trees on the outskirts. It was replanted with mainly Beech, with some Birch, Pine Sycamore and Ash.

As I visited during the week, the woods were relatively empty, especially for the time of year, so I had no trouble getting some shots of the peaceful woodland bejewelled in a sea of brilliant azure.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Austy Woods bluebells

Bluebell wood panoramic in Warwickshire By Martyn Ferry Photography

This morning I paid a visit to Austy Woods, a private woodland located in the heart of Warwickshire. Normally the woods are closed to the public, apart from once a year when the family open them up for two days on the early May bank holiday weekend, to coincide with the eruption of bluebells that occur here every year, and to raise money for charity.

It’s widely recognised as one of the most spectacular displays of bluebells in the county, and beyond I would imagine. Whereas most places have patches of colour, here nearly every part of the woods is carpeted in the sapphire flowers, there must be countless millions of them.

Thankfully they had agreed to let us visit the woodland after the bank holiday, which by all accounts was a bit of a melee, I can’t remember how many thousands of people they said had visited over the two days, but it was a lot. But because we arrived on the Tuesday, we had the place to ourselves, which was rather splendid.