Thursday, 17 March 2011

The Forest

'Gaps in forest' and moor gates. LH and RH edges. Right up there with the TV mast is another vital man-made feature seemingly purpose built for bearings. Fernworthy Forest. It is a familiar part of the skyline for much of the northern and central moor. The dark shape and sweeping curves hugging the horizon.

On our most recent walk, whoisthechallenger found themselves up close and personal with the boundaries of the forest. Its not an area overwhelmed with letterboxes, but its a great area to explore - full of hidden corners.

Our route took us to the West and South of the forest above Teignhead Farm and across the South Teign River. Climbing to White Ridge and Assycombe Hill and descending to Hurston Ridge. To our right, the rolling, hazy landscape of moorland. To our left, a 40 foot high barrier of Spruce. On a day like today - with strong winds forecast - tall, dark green walls finally given texture, movement and noise.

Owned by the State funded Forestry Commission (for now at least...) The history of the Forestry Commision began some 16 miles away at Eggesford in North Devon where their first woodland was seeded in December 1919. Fernworthy was planted - as with many of the FC forests - shortly after World War 1. After the war, timber stocks were so depleted and demand so high that the commission was given a great deal of freedom to acquire and plant trees under the Forestry Act.

A wander around the coniferous forest at Fernworthy seems to support the idea that the Foresters and Foremen were determined and ruthless people. Ancient artifacts, farmsteads and River valleys were not going to stop them. They have always had their critics, but the recent discussions about selling off forests to the private sector has reminded a lot of people about how much we treasure these wooded areas.

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