The Black Wood

I was in Calderstones ambling around.Wild Wood01 Wild Wood02 Wild Wood03

Looking at how the magnificent border there is filling up this year.

Looking at how the magnificent border there is filling up this year.

Restlessly I was drawn towards the least tended part of Calderstones, a little piece of woodland.Wild Wood05 Wild Wood06

Lovely, but not enough.

Lovely, but not enough.

I wanted less neat pathways, denser trees, somewhere to get lost in, somewhere primeval. I wanted a Wild Wood.

In the city? Amongst the neat roads and houses and municipal parks? I set off to find one.

Across Menlove Avenue.

Across Menlove Avenue.

Past the gates of Strawberry Field.

Past the gates of Strawberry Field.

 

“Always, no sometimes, think it’s me, But you know I know when it’s a dream,

I think I know I mean er yes, But it’s all wrong

That is I think I disagree”

As the man said.Wild Wood10

But next comes something even more surreal. You see, Strawberry Field has two gateways. And from the other lesser known one it’s obvious that the former Salvation Army Children’s Home is being redeveloped.

I did not and could not have made this up.

I did not and could not have made this up.

Yes, ‘Strawberry Field, The lifestyle you promised yourself’. Ha ha ha ha ha. The hollow laugh that lasts forever.

“Living is easy with eyes closed

Misunderstanding all you see”

The Lifestyle, er, home next door looks a bit strange too.

The Lifestyle, er, home next door looks a bit strange too.

The peculiarities of the wealthy are beyond my understanding.

The peculiarities of the wealthy are beyond my understanding. A ‘grass’ carpet?

I continue my quest, moving through one of the richest area of Liverpool in search of the Wild Wood I know is in here somewhere.

Maybe it stretched to here once, but not now.

Maybe it stretched to here once, but not now.

But a little further along Woolton Road...

But a little further along Woolton Road…

And here it is, Black Wood.

And here it is, The Black Wood.

A small piece of dense woodland. What this whole area must have been like once.

A small piece of dense woodland. What this whole area must have been like once.

With clearings that look like they are gathering places even now.

With clearings that look like they are gathering places even now.

I walk around inside its perimeter, then I go into the heart of the wood.

At the forked Tree, turning left...

At the Forked Tree, turning left…

Or right depending on your inclination or imagination.

Or right depending on your inclination or imagination.

You might find a large clearing where all of the local tribes once gathered.

You might find a large clearing where all of the local tribes once gathered.

As Midsummer approaches and canopy closure coming on.

As Midsummer approaches and with canopy closure coming on.

Beyond the clearing, a comfortable log to sit on.

Beyond the clearing, a comfortable log to sit on.

To sit and read.

To sit and read.

About the Wild Wood and its continuing importance to the children we have and the children we are. The place where the stories come from.

“If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales.

If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.”

Albert Einstein

Here I can breathe. And I sit for an hour or more. Reading and daydreaming. Reading and daydreaming.

Surrounded by trees you could move into.

Surrounded by trees you could move into.

and strange fungi a good story would forbid you to touch.

And strange fungi a good story might forbid you to touch. Or would it?

It’s not a particularly big piece of woodland, in fact there’s a bigger one nearby, Childwall Woods, that we’ll have a look around one day. But I love the fact of its wildness, its existence and survival in the midst of so much suburbia.

The Black Wood, you could drive past and never know it was there.

The Black Wood. You could drive past and never know it was there.

I walk home. And on the way catch site of what I first take to be a military graveyard.Wild Wood28But this is Bishop Eton, a Redemptorist Monastery. And outside its church of ‘Our Lady of the Annunciation’, these are the graves of the Redemptorist Fathers and Brothers who have prayed and worked here

Resting in peace.

Resting in peace.

Nearly home, but coming down the hill of Woolton Road towards the Mystery…

Wild Wood30

The city centre suddenly appears from an unusual angle.

Liverpool, The Black Wood and the Redemptorists. Resting in peace as evening comes on and this story of the day gets told.

13 thoughts on “The Black Wood

  1. stan cotter

    Thank you for taking me in there Ronnie, as a driver for the ambulance service many years ago now I drove past the Blackwoods and so often thought how mysterious yet wonderful it must be inside?

    Another world from hundreds of years ago.

    Reply
    1. Ronnie Hughes Post author

      Thanks for the links Gerry.

      It’s a mystery these open and relatively wild spaces have survived in such a settled and prosperous area. Maybe we’re good at running our city?

      Reply
  2. stan cotter

    You’ve just stirred some more memories for me Ronnie, Bishop Eton, Woolton.

    I recall as a driver for the ambulance I often had to collect a man from there. He was retired, and told me that he was a Bishop in South Africa. One day he said ‘Can you see that small plot of land over there on the lawn? Well that is were I will be buried when my day comes.’

    I cant recall his name but he was a lovely man and it was a privilege to have known him.

    Oh keep them coming my friend, I’m sure there’s many I’ve forgotten now.

    Reply
  3. cheethamlib

    Amazing that the Black Wood has survived the great urban expansion and it reminds me so much of the Wild Woods in Wind in the Willows. We need to have those places around us so that we don’t lose touch with the natural world. Here on the other side of the world we have quite a lot of wildplaces that flourish in the metropolitan area. The Redemptorist graveyard was an interesting sideline.

    Reply
  4. lindsay53

    The trees look positively primeval! Almost like a hobbit-like story will unfold before your eyes! Those trees are magnificent & I wonder what stories they could tell? Long may wild woods exist! Lindsayx

    Reply
  5. Gillian Rifkin

    Hi Ronnie, I was born and raised in Woolton, and the Black and Childwall woods have been a joy to me since I was first allowed out to ride my bike through these lovely little kingdoms of nature. I believe that the Black, Childwall and Woolton woods are what is left of an ancient forest which covered this region from Norton Priory near Runcorn to the mouth of the Mersey, which was the natural boundary of Lancashire,with the forest forming the main area of a massive hunting estate for the local nobility.

    Reply
  6. Sydney Hall

    I worked in the black woods as a young man as a gardener planting trees, blue bells and daffodils, maintaining trees, one time four of use were taking down an old half dead tree large tree, we had dug a large trench around the tree, cutting all the large roots away, it was a slow hard job, we had spent all morning, digging and cutting though roots, we also had ropes high in the tree, we were pulling on the ropes, but no luck it would not fall and we had already worked well into are dinner time,when the Forman said lets have our dinner, it’s not going any were, we had not gone more then about 20 yards when the tree came crashing down with a thump,what a shock it was to all of use, when we all finished running back to look at our handy work,wondering how that could have happened,Liverpool was a magic place in the early 60s and so was the the Black Woods to work in

    Reply

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