In the 1980s a youthful Gavin liked playing in the woods. A few years ago I realised that I wasn’t playing in the woods as much as I used to. I wondered if I could have a wood of my own to play in. There’s plenty of nice woods for sale on Exmoor or in Wales or Scotland, but not many within a sensible cycling distance from home in Bristol. After a little research I decided to grow my own.
I bought a field early in 2014 and managed to plant a few trees and a hedge before the end of the winter planting season. The rest of 2014 was spent planning, exploring, camping, cooking on fires, digging ponds and creating a tree nursery (which produced more pumpkins and potatoes than trees in it’s first season). In December I took ownership of several thousand trees to plant out before the end of March. I’ve got plenty more plans after that.
The land measures 10 acres (for the metric amongst us that’s about 130m by 300m). It’s a south facing slope (not steep) with a gate at the top and a stream at the bottom. About a fifth of the field was planted with trees about 15 years ago, the rest was pasture which had been mowed for hay in the years before I bought it.
The field (it doesn’t have a name yet) is on the edge of Upton Cheyney, a village between Bristol and Bath. It’s very accessible by bike, being about a mile from the Bristol-Bath railway path. I really really like it. In case anybody wondered, I’m never planning to live there – love where I live now, and I wouldn’t be able to build a house in the field (which is good – it’s for woods not for houses).