Friday, 28 October 2011
One of my favourite places in Orkney is Happy Valley. This beautiful secluded woodland in a sheltered valley is in the parish of Stenness on the Orkney Mainland. I've blogged about HV before so take a look for more info here. Yesterday there was a strong breeze blowing from the East but I knew HV would be fairly sheltered. So I wondered through the gate into the clearing in front of the old house (it even has a Monkey Puzzle Tree!) and just stood there listening to the wind in the branches. I miss that sound from my days "south" when I used to ride my pony, Badger, through the woodland. "Whoo, Whoo, Woosh, Swoosh" the trees called to me in greeting. Leafless branches dancing and grabbing at me in greeting as I walk past.
I wandered carefully down the path strew with soggy leaves to the burn which was roaring over a waterfall that Edwin Harold had made many years ago. It was in too much of a hurry to stop and speak but roared a "hallo" as it rushed along.
Further up the same burn was meandering along a little more quietly. I could stand and listen to it murmering over the rocks and walked up the path, helped by the trees holding out sturdy branches for me to grasp.
I love the detail within a wood - the gnarled barks that hold tales of many seasons.
Mrs Orkney Flowers to tell me!).
Another waterfall and more rushing water too busy to stop and have a blether (chat).
I'm pleased to see that local volunteers have been planting new trees, to continue Edwin's work. They'll extend this woodland of many seasons with new stock.
Up by the house St John's Wort has many berries - is this a forewarning of a harsh winter?
Edin lived here for many years, using the burn as his water supply, and also to generate his electricity, in his house with turf growing on the roof (traditional insulation).
And tiny plants cling to the stonework of the house.
Meanwhile in a corner rusting iron implements have been gathered together, telling stories to each other of their hard working past lives.
And on the wall near the entrance beautiful lichens soften the stone wall, and among them tiny plants that are often missed when the glory of the trees in leaf demand all the attention.
As I left Happy Valley and returned to the vista of the sun playing on the low hills and pasture I felt I'd visited the land of tree sprites, pixies and elves! I'm sure I heard wee voices calling me to return soon, and I must listen to them as Happy Valley is certainly balm for the spirit!