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The Wood : The Life & Times of Cockshutt Wood

Lewis-Stempel, John
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Transworld Publishers Ltd (Black Swan)
Published: March 14, 2019
ISBN: 9781784162436
304 pages

£9.99

Written in diary format, The Wood is the story of English woodlands as they change with the seasons. Lyrical and informative, steeped in poetry and folklore, The Wood inhabits the mind and touches the soul. For four years John Lewis-Stempel managed Cockshutt wood, a particular wood – three and half acres of mixed woodland in south west Herefordshire – that stands as exemplar for all the small woods of England.

John coppiced the trees and raised cows and pigs who roamed free there. This is the diary of the last year, by which time he had come to know it from the bottom of its beech roots to the tip of its oaks, and to know all the animals that lived there – the fox, the pheasants, the wood mice, the tawny owl – and where the best bluebells grew. For many fauna and flora, woods like Cockshutt are the last refuge.

It proves a sanctuary for John too. To read The Wood is to be amongst its trees as the seasons change, following an easy path until, suddenly the view is broken by a screen of leaves, or your foot catches on a root, or a bird startles overhead. This is a wood you will never want to leave.

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