Walk report: Blackwater20 Feruary 2020

Fifty mile an hour winds and heavy rain were forecast but six members turned up at Rhinefield for a spot of ‘shinrin yoku’ or forest bathing, the Japanese idea that a walk among trees can be a relaxing and de-stressing spiritual experience. Of course we all know this anyway or we wouldn’t be LymNats.
Blackwater area
© Richard Coomber

We went to look at the wetland restoration work that has been done at Fletchers Water. Under a scheme using money from Europe, Natural England, the Forestry Commission and other interested bodies, meanders have been reinstated to restore the stream to how it would have been before 19th century commoners straightened it to improve drainage and grazing. The idea is also to hold back rainwater from flooding downstream. The work done is impressive and it all looks very natural.

Examining one of the Giant Sequoias
© Chris Robinson
We looked at an area where a dense patch of Western Hemlock had been removed to create an open grazing area for the deer. The hemlock is a prolific self-seeder and something of a weed. No deer to be seen but a flock of Redwing were spotted.

We learned how to tell the difference between several conifers; Western Hemlock, Douglas Fir, Norway Spruce and Scots and Corsican Pines. Hemlock and Douglas Fir have very distinctive and strong scents. All these conifers were planted by the Forestry Commission to test as timber trees in the days when the Forest was considered as a timber factory. Nowadays the policy is to increase the number of deciduous trees and the amenity value of the Forest.

Coastal Redwood bark
© Richard Coomber

Giant Sequoia © Richard Coomber
These trees were planted around the 1850s but are still young, as they can live for up to 1,000 years or more. Their soft fibrous bark acts as protection from fire and insects and is irresistibly tactile.  AM