Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Kentle Wood - and a storm

A few days ago I discovered Kentle Wood, but was inadequately shod and unable to do it justice. Today I tried again. Wellington boots or walking boots? I decided on wellies and it was probably a wise decision.

Yuk! The top end of Browns Road becomes
 Browns Lane, Daventry, 28 January, 2015

The approach via Browns Lane is hardly inspiring. A large structure on the right is occupied by a firm called 'Earthworm'. Their mission in life is to convert waste into compost. The place is surrounded by security cameras; either compost has a greater street value than I'd realised - or the building is a front for the British arm of the C.I.A.

As I entered the wood a green woodpecker crossed the track, 'yaffling' its shrill alarm call. Clearly I had disturbed it but no, moments later a pair of sparrowhawks also swooped across the track. Surely they had caused the consternation. As far as I am aware, sparrowhawks only hunt singly - but the woodpecker was unlikely to stop and ask.

I was surprised to see a young tree, little more than a sapling, bearing a large growth. These are fairly common on old oaks but this was unusual.

Crown Gall on a young tree. Kentle Wood,
Daventry. 28 January, 2015

The growth - an example of Crown Gall caused by Agrobacterium tumefasciens - was as wide as the trunk itself. Crown Gall is imperfectly understood but may be the result of soil-inhabiting bacteria reaching the trunk and penetrating the tissue via some sort of wound. 

Looking west from Kentle Wood towards the village of
Flecknoe, Warwickshire. 28 January, 2015

As can be seen, the sky was blue and conditions excellent. Looking west there were fine views across the valley of the infant River Leam to the hills beyond. A few innocuous-looking clouds were present in the distance. The Leam forms the county boundary in this area so I was looking into Warwickshire.

I pressed on and eventually reached the furthest point of the wood, where it came up against the A45 Braunston Road.

I felt a few spots of rain on my face and saw that the sky was darkening. Within a couple of minutes the rain, flecked with some wet snow, was sheeting down. There was no shelter beneath the leafless trees and I had no choice but to press on. The wind steadily rose until it was howling through the woodland and soon I felt rain trickling down the inside of my wellies. Ugh! Time to draw deeply on my reserves of stoicism.

Large puddles rapidly formed across the track but then, almost as quickly as it had arrived, the rain eased up and the wind dropped.

Despite the heavy tread on my wellies I found myself slithering and sliding about and I was fortunate to remain upright. But I was feeling pleased, and even the huge, ugly Amazon warehouse looming upon my left failed to lower my spirits.

Trees top-heavy with ivy are vulnerable to high winds.
Kentle Wood, Daventry. 28 December, 2015
Another few hundred paces found me back on the original track. There where I had walked about twenty minutes earlier, a tree had come crashing down. As is often the case, it was top-heavy with ivy and the wind had been too much for it. Ideally it will be dragged to the side of the track and there allowed to decay.

So, I re-emerged from Kentle Wood. A glance at my pedometer showed that the distance around the perimeter track had been about 6,500 paces. Hard going today but it will be a fine walk in the summer months. 
Roll on!

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