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.

April 2020:    A local expert reports  “The bluebells in Tile Wood which are always nearly as good as those in Pound Wood’s Bluebell Walk, are in huge array at present. As you near the main mass of bluebells you smell them before you see them, a pleasant intoxication. Bluebell Day, Essex Wildlife Trust’s traditional open day is, of course, cancelled but was due to occur on Sunday 26th. The bluebells look close to their peak now. It has always been fascinating to take people on walks through the bluebells and one year say, “They are a little past their peak now. You should have been here last week” or another year, “They are not quite at their peak yet, believe or not. Come back in 7 to 10 days time and you will be very impressed”.
Walking from Little Havens to Tile Wood

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