Tile Wood from Little Havens
Reflecting on a walk in Spring 2018
I’m writing in 2020 whilst isolated at home, about a Spring walk I enjoyed this week two years ago. Starting from Little Havens and progressing in leisurely fashion to Tile Wood, I recall now the fascination I felt at the sight of the old trees.
Clearly they had been coppiced in years gone by and were, apparently, neglected in recent years, allowed to grow into the tall, mature trees commanding attention as the backdrop to a glorious Spring day.
I was spellbound by ancient stumps with ivy winding around them. Some of the old trees displayed vines of surprising thickness as they climbed skywards.
Tile Wood is now a Nature Reserve, managed by the Essex WildLife Trust. It is a delight to walk and explore its winding paths in the Spring and photograph the carpets of bluebells, surely one of our favourite native wild flowers, as well as other wild plants beginning their annual cycle.
Tile Wood is reputed to be one of the earliest ancient woodlands to be recorded in South East Essex; one of several woods to be located along the northern boundary of Hadleigh, Thundersley & Daws Heath as you head towards Rayleigh.
Amongst the trees to be found in Tile Wood is what is known as The Service Tree, ( Sorbus torminalis ) also called ‘The Chequers Tree’. In olden days alcohol was distilled from its berries. This tree is rarely to be found growing in the wild in the UK, a giveaway sign of just how old this Wood is. It has Maple shaped leaves, clusters of white blossom in the Spring and almost plum-coloured berries. In Autumn the leaves turn crimson, a very splendid productive tree indeed. Another popular variety of this tree is the Mountain Ash ( Sorbus aucoparia ) which has clusters of pretty bright red berries in the Autumn and is commonly seen in hedgerows, parks & gardens.
This is a very good excuse to return to Tile Wood to find the Service Tree in the Autumn, when we hope Lockdown will be over.