Romance of a winter woodland at Nymans

Rust coloured redwoods and upturned root plates are illuminated in winter © Chloe Bradbrooke, National Trust

Rust coloured redwoods and upturned root plates are illuminated in winter

A woodland’s secrets are revealed in winter when trees are stripped of foliage, says Senior Ranger Chloe Bradbrooke. Here she recommends what to look out for on a winter day at Nymans.

Bright sunny days allow focus on the more subtle elements of woodland: the lichens, ferns and berry dotted evergreens. Your eyes are drawn not to bright coloured flowers but by the gentler hues of barks: the smooth grey beech, blushing pink birch and, here at Nymans, the rich rust of redwood glowing in the low winter sun.

Winter is a great time for playing nature detective. Bare branches make spying birds easier, mud and snow are ideal for following animal tracks and pellets and dropping are fun clues for identifying the local wildlife. A close inspection of oak bark may reveal broken nut shells trapped in crevices by nut hatches and mosses enjoying the rivulets of moisture provided by the fissures.

Secrets exposed

Also exposed are secrets of a different kind: history of an industrious past and even a catastrophic event. Frosted edges reveal contours in the landscape highlighting old banks, ditches and boundaries, dips and hollows of old quarries and saw pits.

The effects of the 1987 Great Storm - so dramatic and catastrophic at the time - can still be seen. Huge up-rooted trees have left a tangle of vertical root-plates exposed. Washed over with soil during years of rain, wind and snow these have formed natural sculptures hung with mosses. Surprisingly elevated primroses perched atop suddenly find themselves king of the castle.

By Chloe Bradbrooke, Nymans Senior Ranger