If you listen carefully you can hear it. The forest is talking. A whispering, a murmuring, a gentle tinkling sound. You just need to listen.

It’s easy to stride along the pathways, lost in your thoughts, occasionally noticing an interesting birdsong, or admiring a sun-dappled view. But this forest has a story to tell, and we need to listen.

It’s a story as old as time itself, a remnant of prehistory that clings to our earth. In a world where noise is ever present, the message from the trees is getting harder to hear; but it’s still there. If only we will listen – and learn.

The pine needles crunch beneath your feet as you follow the twisting path into the forest. Tree roots threaten to trip up the unwary traveller, stretching their tangled fibres across, reaching out and interlocking like children’s fingers, holding your hand. 

As the clouds drift overhead, the forest darkens, and you can sense the mood changing. Pause a while. Listen. The soft tinkling sound is all around, echoing from tree to tree. Birds? Goldcrests, maybe, hidden in the green. Or is it a magical sound, a thousand tiny voices singing, crooning, enfolding you in its spell. A gust of wind, shifts the mood again, and the tree tops lean in to each other and the sound changes to a soughing, moaning voice. Lichen covered branches sway and tiny leaves drift down like tears, as the forest weeps. Why is the forest crying? Is it for us? Or itself  as the modern world nibbles at the edges of this ancient place?

It’s easy to believe the tales of myth and magic, the fairy stories where the forest represented fear and danger. Where Hansel and Gretel were abandoned to their fate, Red Riding Hood was drawn in away from the safety of the path. Where Mole was surrounded by terror when he ventured into the Wild Wood… But, wait. The forest can protect those who venture into the shadows. The warmth of Badger’s home, is there if you seek it.

As if on cue, the sun breaks through and the mood changes. Red squirrels suddenly dart across from tree to tree, finches call from the highest branches while tits bob and bounce below them. Deer flit around in the shadows, weaving a path that only they know, through the undergrowth. There is music in the air now, a softer sound of birdsong amidst the humming of the trees. A distant woodpecker drums out a message across the forest and bees buzz among the burgeoning  green around your feet. 

The message of the forest, as Spring warms the earth, is one of hope. Hope that those who stand and listen, will heed the warning. Hope that we will protect and nourish this precious place, as it does for those that live within it.

As this traveller made her way along the paths early on a sun-blazed morning, before the world had woken, the message from the trees was clear. Look at us in all our glory, then teach others to sing our song and protect our future. We may have been part of the first and most ancient forest in this land. Don’t let us be the last.