The Wolf in the dawn

The Pennine Way Shakedowns 3. The Wolf in the Dawn

I can hear great spotted woodpeckers tapping. Its daylight out there, but I have no idea what the time is. It could be anything after about 4am.

Great spotted woodpeckers tap at about 10 -16 beats per second. That’s fast, and uniquely identifiable. They have special bases to their beaks so that they don’t brain themselves. And of course, pretty solid beaks too.  They use those beaks to liberate bugs and their larva for dinner, as well as hollow out holes to nest in and raise their young.

They are a pretty good notification that spring is coming too.

Right now, I’m just enjoying their tapping over a the calls of a chiffchaff calling its name over a chorus of robins, blackbirds and dunnocks beautiful songs all intermingled in a wonderful cacophony of percussion and melody, rhythm and stealth.

I lay in my sleeping bag enjoying the majesty of a dawn chorus in an English woodland until my bladder will be ignored no more.  As I emerge from my tent I am blinded by the sun shining through the canopy of trees, alternately blinding me and vanishing between branches.  The though occurs to me. If you can camp at the east edge of the woods then the dawn will be spectacular. 

Making the best time of day even better.  Dawn is the time of greatest promise, the whole day is to come. The realising of that though at dawn is heartwarming, whether its sat here in the woods, right now, or watching our towns and cities come to life, as stall holders and shop holders put out their wares, tables and chairs and awnings.

I’ve mentioned before, always acknowledge the beginning point of anything. A holiday, a new venture, ride in a new car, or dawn.

Take a moment.  I do!

A while later, after we have broken camp and are headed of for the day along the North Downs Way, as we pass a dark pine forest that I pass the observation to Troy that the wood is very much like the one that Little Red Riding Hood had to traverse as she went to find her granny.  Kings wood is full of several types of woodland. The dense chestnut coppice that we had camped out in, open deciduous woodland or the bramble infested oak lands we also passed. But here it was the dark pine woods that attracted my attention.  I expressed my thoughts to Troy who did little more than humour the doddery old fella.

Until that is he exclaimed, ‘there’s wolf in that tree!’

I looked at him a little surprised. But he continued, ‘look that’s the eye there, and there’s the jaw’.

Indeed, he was right, the spirit of wolf had quite clearly inhabited the pine tree.

The timing couldn’t have been more obvious either. Have a look at the picture. You tell me.

The Wolf and Little Red Riding Hood.

Bizarrely when I repeated the walk a while later, going in the other direction, I could find no sign of the wolf!

It was a short while later, that we detected long strands of web hanging down from the trees. They were sticky and had masses of caterpillars all wriggling down them.  We looked up and there were big web like structures that these strands come from.

The webs and the moths are to be avoided, they are an irritant that can cause breathing difficulties if inhaled and irritation and dermatitis on the skin. This caused many sudden movements to left and right and just occasionally very dodgy attempts to emulate a limbo dancer. Mainly by Troy I might add. 

They were thick all along the wood section we were walking though and continued as we descended towards Chilham, dangling from the trees in the verges. Beech and sycamore.

Its as we pass the carp ponds of Chilham that we see an amazing example of the hunted knowing the state of mind of the hunter.  There was a covey or bouquet of pheasants looking for grain in the grasses whilst a fox nonchalantly walked along the edge of the meadow grass lining the bank.   The pheasants were aware of his presence, but apart from keeping a gentle eye out, were otherwise unruffled. Fox wasn’t hungry.

Didn’t stay around long enough to have her photo taken though. When the thought became conscious she was gone…

Love these walks.

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