Wednesday, 4 April 2018

Black Hill, Clun

I wonder for how much longer this carpet of moss will last before the logging machines move in to remove timber and churn up the soil. I have known this particular patch of wood for possibly 10 to 15 years or more, tucked away amongst the many blocks of conifers on a high Shropshire hillside. Here, nothing but the moss can survive in the perpetual dim light that the spruces produce under their high canopy. Already, where the winds have blown down a swathe of trees at one edge - an area exposed to strong winds when another nearby area was clear felled a few years ago - grasses, ferns, spruce saplings and bilberry plants have taken advantage of the additional light and the carpet has lost its sphagnum softness. 
With an underlay of many years’ accumulations of pine needles, many different species of moss have covered the bumps and hollows that mark out the original planting lines and the stumps of where trees have previously been thinned. From this soft deep bed the last remaining trees tower up, bright pale green close to, fading to almost black in the deep, lightless inner forest. Their trunks are covered with algae like a green camouflage material covering the mottled bark with many variations of colour. In the subtle light of a cloudy afternoon they are seem to reflect so much light that their colours are quite vivid. Old cones, twigs, bark flakes and needles litter the floor beneath the dense dark green canopy about 20 metres above.
Walking along deer paths and wandering between the trees is easy; the space is quite open and spacious with several metres between each trees. Younger plantations are usually a dense impenetrable mass of branches, brambles and bracken until timber is extracted at various stages. 

For those in search of a wonderful, almost unnatural selection of greens this is a wonderful place to be.

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