I went to the Duddon valley recently to check out the Dunnerdale boulder circuit. The climbing was amazing, as was the forest – I hadn’t known about the reforestation project until I arrived. Below is a piece I wrote about the forest, which appeared as a John Muir Wild Moments feature. You can find out about the reforestation project here.
“In a valley, where the Duddon runs over pebbles and rushes into pools, there is a forest. Travel there to find it; where remnant conifers are slowly replaced by oak and rowan. Holly, and others like those. Old pine branches, like fragments of bone, are strewn across the fells. They jag your shins and catch your clothes. Bogs wallow over your ankle, and vomit in your shoe. The odd stream, trickling, makes its way to the river below. Gentle inclines absorb your chatter. The dog will fight her way between tussocks; these and the ditches make sure the going is slow. Wispy birch casts a mosaic of shade. Abrasive, angular boulders lurk, to chew your fingertips and stub your toes. Cool, black earth oozes tawny puddles. A cuckoo watches; the forest knows.
Amongst the trees there is hope; that this feral band will cross the barren valley slopes. The sheep and spruce will be covered by a papery cloak of ovate leaves, consumed by the folklore of ancient trees. There is hope, a heritage of enrichment has taken hold, the law of squander no longer absolute. Tree roots shaped like old folks hands, digging and turning, give life back to the thirsty land. Returning birds will stir and fold the air. The soil will be kicked and sniffed, and pecked and burrowed. The leaves will fall and the leaves will grow. That is the place I want to go”.