The cool air between the pines



D, A and I went walking this weekend in the woods of Chatelherot, close to where A lives. These were the old hunting grounds of the Lords (and perhaps ladies?) of Hamilton – the woods were kept and cultivated as an environment for deer and foxes.


Pictures of the forest, calming on a Monday. Take a deep breath, imagine the creaking of the branches. The flittering sounds in the leaves and red flash of robins. The streaming sunlight turning to washed-out white as the clouds are blown overhead. Here to the right is oak and beech:


oak and beech




Some of the oaks have been dated to the 1460s, when the parklands were planted, though the mounds around these wood monsters were shaped by iron age hands. Modern hands had tied a yellow ribbon round the branch of the tree below. And a millennial has been included for scale:


for scale


Sometime around the Second World War, Norwegian pines were planted – the giveaway is how all the trees in certain parts of the forest are around sixty to seventy years old and planted in straight lines:


in the pines


stairs to heaven


We walked the eight kilometer trail which rises and falls, crosses the Green bridge over the river Avon, and climbs up to the rim of the valley, before returning to Chatelherot itself – a grand frontage which overlooks Hamilton, and which despite appearances, was never more than kennels for the hounds and a dining room and chambers for the hunting party.




chatelherot front view


The sunlight was high and the sky was blue and dashed with white cloud. It is almost Spring, it says – the 18th century buildings, the green short grass, the families out walking, the children rolling down hill, shrieking happily. Or if no Spring comes this year, it is promising something else. A good Summer, perhaps. A chance at a pause. Saying, wait. Look. Breathe in and out.


A good walk in a dark and light place. The smell of pines and a sheep farm. The steady, strangeness of ancient trees. A long field rolling out towards the townships.


chatelherot fields



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7 responses to “The cool air between the pines

  1. I think this crop of photos have been some of my favorites that you’ve posted.

  2. That tree breaks my heart.

  3. patricia

    A wonderful post. Enjoyed the photos and history. Feel as though I have had a refreshing walk. thank you.

  4. Helen, these are so tender and beautiful. The old trees look wise and welcoming.

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