Winter treasure 3: Staverton Thicks – a Boxing Day picnic

Oak vines6/1/2018 Staverton Thicks is one of two places in Suffolk that I like best in winter. Part of the reason may be that my first visit was in December, and the memory of that exhilarating discovery will always stay with me. But there is also a stillness about it in winter. It is not just that fewer people walk there, as I have barely ever encountered anyone in Staverton Thicks, at any time of year. Rather, the stillness is of a wood in hibernation.

The main reason for my preference, however, is that its beauty lies greatly in its quality as a quite extraordinary, walk-in, living sculpture. Its shapes can be appreciated better in winter when the ground and the branches (apart from holly) are bare: more light reaches the woodland floor, and the tall, dense bracken has died back, allowing a clear view of the weird and wonderful forms to be found everywhere in this truly unique woodland.

Oak sculpture smallOn Boxing Day, wanting to take my friends (who were visiting from Spain) to at least one of my favourite places during their stay, and to take advantage of the only forecast sunny day, I thought a walk followed by a picnic in Staverton Thicks might be a fun and unusual outing. We didn’t reach the woods until three o’clock, by which time the light was starting to fade and a distinct chill was in the air, which only the sunshine had been holding at bay. But we were all hungry from our windy walk, and, diving into the woods with great eagerness, we found a large fallen oak on which to settle down to our picnic. Well before we had finished, our fingers were half numb, but we spent the best part of an hour eating delicious food, enjoying each other’s company, watching and listening for creatures in the treetops and through the fallen trunks, and inhaling the atmosphere of the ancient woodland.

I didn’t manage to lead my guests out of the woods in precisely the same direction that we entered… but it all added to the fun, and I left feeling that the Boxing Day Picnic – my first ever – might have to become an institution. British weather permitting.

To read more about Staverton Thicks, please click here.