A Yearning For Wilderness

Inhospitable deserts. High mountain passes. Hills or moorland in thick, blanketing fog or sudden treacherous snowfall.


A situation in which I test my skills and resilience to the limit, aware of the consequences of a miscalculation or of taking my eye off the ball for too long. Certainly not a case of me fighting against the desert, or the mountain, because it’s not a battle. I have no need to ‘conquer’ anything, merely to respectfully request safe passage.


At the moment I have to accept second best, walking in woodlands near my home. At least there are fewer people around while it is raining, although those who are include a posse of shrieking children – honestly, where are the wolves and bears when you need them? Two hundred years ago in Britain children would either have avoided all but the lightest of woodland, or passed through as silently as possible. Although the bears and wolves were long gone by then, the children would have been raised on a diet of nursery stories that taught them the dangers of venturing into wild places, the remnants of very necessary advice from those earlier times when careless children frequently got eaten.

Happy days!


Don’t misunderstand me, I love these woodlands, and am very grateful I can get to them easily. Within them, for example, is this wonderful grove of oak trees. The oaks are not particularly old, probably around two hundred years I would imagine, but are stunningly beautiful. Some have branches thick with moss, all have wonderfully sculpted bark and all are home to huge numbers of creatures.



Already one or two have a limb dropping to the ground for extra stability. And the grove as an ecosystem within the wider woodland is perfect – each tree is around twenty five meters from its neighbours, which appears perfect when I look at the size of the canopy of each tree: its branches just about meet the branches of its neighbours, but there is no sense of their growth being restricted. I wonder whether this is chance, the result of long centuries of naturally evolving woodland – when one tree dies and eventually falls, that newly-opened space exploited by another seedling, or perhaps intelligent planting by a long-forgotten landowner?


Where the woods are managed, especially the cutting in those areas where the holly is spreading in dense swathes crowding out all other growth, there are stacks of cut logs and branches exploited by children (shrieking or otherwise) to make dens. None of them would keep out the weather, but that’s not really their point. What I particularly like about them, other than it’s good to find children who want to play in this environment, rather than just sit in front of a screen, is most of these dens end up resembling the skeleton of some fantastic monster. And although that hardly turns these woods into a wilderness, it does give them just the faintest frisson of excitement, especially in the gloom.

And reminds me I want to be in the wilderness…


As is basic human nature, of course, the longer the restrictions (either imposed or of my own choosing) go on, the more I yearn for that wilderness.


46 thoughts on “A Yearning For Wilderness

  1. I miss the outside world, too, Mick! Glad to have my little woods and the wide-open farm behind us, the trail that leads to the horses, all are great substitutes but still, I need more. Soon, I hope.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. One very cold winter day, while on my long walk I decided to take a short-cut through the woods. It was quiet as quiet can be with a fresh fall of deep snow. As I made my way through the trees, I began seeing tracks, then more tracks and more and more. Coyotes, lots of them.

    While there may no longer be wolves and bears, though a few have been sighted in the neighborhood, there are coyotes and one does not want to run into a pack of them.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. The woodland is so beautiful and reminds me how much I am missing living in suburbia. I’ve traded oaks, poplars and pines for … gunshots, summer night domestic quarrels carried out in the next door yard, and piles of litter. But still, there are birds who brighten my morning by feeding outside my window, and a squirrel who shows up about once a week. As you said in response to Ishaan, we always want what we cannot have. But, we adapt and find little things that bring a smile, yes? I love the post and the pics!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks, Jill. Yes, we adapt. We yearn and we adapt. I’m at the advanced yearning stage now, though. I can cope very well with most of the restrictions of lockdown, as I’m not a particularly social person, but not being able to roam freely anywhere I want is particularly hard.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Your lockdown has been much more restrictive than ours, for there wasn’t a time, in most places anyway, that we couldn’t be outdoors walking in the woods or just in the neighborhood. Hang in … I hope you get to spread your wings soon!

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Thanks, Jill. We were allowed out for exercise during the main lockdown, up to an hour a day. It was never so restrictive we couldn’t do that. But now we have more freedom, I can’t get a whole lot further afield without risking public transport, which I’m still very reluctant to do.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. I wonder how they planned to enforce the ‘hour a day’ rule? I mean, they cannot be everywhere watching everyone and timing people’s time outdoors. Here, that would have had everyone staying out for an hour and fifteen minutes, just to prove that we could! πŸ˜„ Yes, I have a few other UK friends who are in the same situation. David cannot visit his grandchildren because it is 25 miles and requires riding a bus. It’s so sad. I understand the necessity for the precautions, but our mental/emotional health is as important as the physical, and frankly these days there seems little to look forward to. I have even stopped going to the grocery store, so now I only leave home for my walks at the park behind our house, never see other people … it’s … depressing.

            Liked by 2 people

            1. Largely, it relied upon honesty and I think it worked, generally. Obviously, some took the p*ss, but the police did patrol parks and stop vehicles, and if you were an unreasonable distance from your home you’d better have a good reason.

              Yes, I read David’s comments. I’m 15 miles from my stepmother, and am still assessing whether I think I should risk taking the train to see her. Difficult. And yes, emotional health is important, and I speak as someone who gets very stressed in certain situations, but I’d still rather ride that rollercoaster and not get the virus.

              Liked by 1 person

  4. The woods may not be an epic wilderness but they have an aura and beauty of their own. We love long walks though English woodland, always so much to see and discover at every turn.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Absolutely. As I say, I’m grateful for them and enjoy them immensely. They also lift my spirits whenever I’m walking there. I’m just becoming over-familiar with all those within walking distance and frustrated at not being able to get further afield.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m glad children are playing in the woods, shrieking and building forts. It’s a significant contrast to the U.S. When I was six years old my family moved to a house that had many acres of forest (owned by someone….) behind it. I spent hours every day off in the woods, exploring, getting lost and finding my way again, sitting quietly hoping to see animals, and imagined living there on my own. Parents did not have to keep children in their site nor arrange their experiences for them then. Now a parent could be found guilty of child neglect for letting a six-year-old go play in the woods, even for a short time.

    I see another U.S. / U.K. difference. Your observation that, “The oaks are not particularly old, probably around two hundred years I would imagine…” Trees even a century old are very rare, except in the wilderness.

    Both differences highlight a tragic lack of awareness here. I continue to hope we’ll wake up.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I did much the same, it’s true. Children certainly had more freedom, then. I seemed to spend a huge amount of my childhood in the woods, fields and, especially, the streams! And i don’t suppose I was particularly unusual.


  6. There is a mystical charm among the mountains. And this is exactly what makes us all yearn for them. The air is fresh and pure. And these mountains remind us that we humans are much smaller in the scheme of nature. And this is precisely we have never been able to tame nature completely.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. The trees look so beautiful. I honestly don’t know what I would have done these past months in lockdown without my father-in-law’s farm to go to escape. It is surrounded by woods, one path leads to a brook, another to a reservoir, yet another to a pond. With telecommuting and sitting in front of a screen all damn day, the woods have been a saving grace.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, they have been for me, too. It’s almost more difficult now we have permission to travel further afield, but would need to take a bus or train to do so and are unsure yet whether we are willing to take the risk.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Mmmm…. I’m mostly a stay-at-home person but now even I would like to get out. Not to anywhere dangerous or challenging, though, I’m too much of a coward for that!

    The trees are beautiful. We’ve a lot of oaks round here, many visible through our windows, also hills, forests, etc. So lockdown for me hasn’t been as bad as for some. And there’s also the garden.

    Liked by 1 person

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