Clapham Woods revisited.
So, today I revisited Clapham Woods with my walking companions from Worthing Pagan Moot. It is becoming quite a regular walk nowadays, not hazardous or tricky, just a nice amble through some wonderful woodland which puts a respectable amount of mud on your boots.
Some people call the place satanic because of the history of the area (I have written a previous post on this). Personally, I feel it’s just trees with folklore attached, I find nothing sinister about Clapham, although, the tail end of Storm Brian did make the old timbers creek a bit.
It’s a pleasant meander through the churchyard and across the field, today containing three grey and white dappled horses. I have come face to face with the most enormous bull before, but that is a completely different story.
We then traverse a small woodland path before having to cross the main field which usually houses a herd of masticating cows – and quite obviously, their vast array of cowpats. I’m sure there is some sort of bovine competition going on between them; they come closer to see which human slips first…
Observers quote there isn’t a lot of bird song within the woods, this is true, there never has been. But one of my walking companions did spot a green woodpecker on the fringes today, and there are often magpies and pheasants strutting around the fields. Not to mention the butterflies and dragonflies zipping across the pastures.
Naturally we had to go to the Witching Tree, our trail always leads us there. It’s good to see the old Beech still sturdy after all these years. Some say it is upto 300 years old, some say a lot older, I can’t imagine what sights it has seen. Rumour speculates a witch was once hung from its branches; and left until dead, but I have yet to find any concrete evidence of this. I know it has become a site for spell work and ritual magic over the years and many offerings have been found at the root of the tree. Yet as for sinsiter grey mists of the dark arts or the malevolent Friends of Hecate? I am finding the idea less and less believable over the years and can’t help wondering if it is an act of fiction to keep ramblers from the property, particularily dog walkers as the land owners breed a lot of pheasant for the shooting season and don’t want their profits diminuished by one stray dog.
After our time at the Witching Tree, we went in search of the UFO Crater, which is found through the metal gate towards the dip of Long Furlong. The crater realistically looks like an old dug out clay pit, although some speculate it is the damage left from an errant WW2 bomb. Apparently it is called UFO crater because this is where most of the UFO sightings have been observed. Dark night. Camp Fire. One too many tipples as the cold night rolls in and the headlights of distant cars on Long Furlong would look like lights in the sky – who knows? I like to hunt unidentified anythings, but I have yet to see a Flying Saucer over Clapham. The area has been the focus of a great deal of UFOlogical study, and hosted a number of sky-watching vigils over the years, yet no solid evidence has ever emerged. I did take my dowsing rods into the crater, they did very little except get whirled round by the wind; they wouldn’t affirm or deny UFO activity, so unless we witness the phenomena with our own eyes, I guess we will never know. Wouldn’t it be great though, if it did happen?
From here it turned a little cold, so we decided to make a move back. Searching out flora and fauna as we went. On our trek back towards the cow field, we stumbled across the biggest mushroom I have ever seen (hardly surprising with all those cowpats). I am not an expert, hence the reason I never forage for fungi, the soup I create would make Typhoid Annie look like an amateur. But this blossoming fungus was magnificent, it had a couple of smaller companions which it enigmatically dwarfed, the photos really don’t do it justice.
It was a lovely walk, warm in the sun, a little chilly in the shade, and the sound of Storm Brian whipping up the branches and leaves giving it the atmosphere it deserved. Thankfully we managed to get home before the rain started. I was ravanous and craving cheese on toast. It was a lovely way to finish a Sunday afternoon rambling with friends …