The National Pinetum : part six of my ‘jolly’
Welcome to part 6 of my birthday ‘jolly.’
After a hectic week away with so much to see and to discover, and with only one fall, I want to share some more photos and experiences with you. I hope that you have stayed the course from part 1 and that you are enjoying the photos and the little bits of information I have added about the wonderful places I have visited.
One lovely afternoon, just before it rained a little, we sent out for the National Pinetum at Goudhurst, Kent, where we walked for a few hours, enjoying the silence (other than the bird song) and the solitude – though we did encounter a group of school kids out on a cross-country run.
We spent the afternoon exploring what is called the finest collection of Conifers anywhere in the world. Although Spring had not arrived fully there was plenty to see and enjoy. The air was thick with the smell of the earth and the trees, reminding me of when I was little for some reason. Funny how smells can transport you back to that time.
The storms earlier this year had managed to bring a few tress down here and there, often in the thickest parts of the forest, and along one trail we followed we could hear the sound of foresters cutting logs from the fallen trees and the sound of a machine turning some of the logs into sawdust – for sale no doubt.
In addition to Conifers there is a large collection of Serbian Spruces, a recent addition from a collecting trip in 2010 sown from seed which we are told will be appearing in the near future, though we didn’t see any as far as I am aware, and also some Chilean Plum Yews collected on a trip in 2009.
Last Autumn they collected and sowed seeds from South Korea. I am not sure which trees these were from but I understand that there is new fresh growth on Conifers throughout the collection and that fantastic new Spruce and Larch cones are going to be plentiful this season.
We could see evidence of new trees being planted everywhere and also where they’ve been tidying the sides of the major paths, taking brambles and dead material back about 30 feet each side.
I’m afraid we didn’t manage to call into the visitor centre to obtain a trail map or literature about the trees we would be seeing on our walk, so I cannot identify what I have photographed, but I am sure those enthusiasts amongst you will no doubt know what you are looking at.
We arrived a little late in the afternoon, having been visiting a castle in the morning – more on this in my next post – and so we wanted to get going before the rain came on with any force and we lost the light.
However, the visitor centre is very good my sister tells me and so is the café with ample car parking available for all visitors. The Pinetum is open all year from 8am and they have a comprehensive programme of Education, International Conservation work and Interpretation with plenty of literature available. There are guided tours for groups and schools available.
There is an Audio Trail – you can download it from their website or the visitor centre – and they also provide Family Backpacks and Free Family Pinetum Trails, along with Cycle Trails. The trail routes are well numbered with information boards to highlight points of interest. The trail follows surfaced and un-surfaced paths – depending upon your choice and is flat other than gentle slopes at the start and it is just under a mile long, and will take about 45 minutes to walk at a leisurely pace.
You are advised to wear appropriate footwear if embarking upon a walk.
We didn’t take a particular trail, my sister had been several times before and so we just followed her normal walk. Once, not long ago, she and a friend strayed off the beaten track and found themselves wandering around the forest for hours, lost.
Apparently she and her friend started following the cycle trail and then went off course only to find themselves going deeper into the forest. Everywhere looked the same and they became somewhat disoriented.
Neither had their mobiles with them or a map! It started to rain and got very muddy and it was also getting dark. They were worried in-case the main car park would close before they found their way out – but somehow they managed to find their way back with minutes to spare, soaking wet and muddy. She learned her lesson; now she sticks to paths and tracks she knows lead back to civilisation and she has her phone. We didn’t get lost.
The Pinetum caters for not only walkers and cyclists but also horse riders with specific trails for these also. There is a box park and picnic areas set aside and there is an area for top-speed mountain biking and challenging single-track MTB trails, including a dirt jump area, showers for bikes and riders and bike hire, purchase and repair, including adopted cycles and cycle coaching.
There is a Shipwreck, a mighty Tree House, giant Swing and a Spider’s web with a massive play area for kids as well as (Go Ape) – Tree-top high ropes and Zip-wire course; no need to get bored if the 2,000 acres of tress begins to get a bit much. It would never get boring for me and I don’t fancy the Zip-wire or Tree-top high ropes; but that’s just me. My sister would be in her element.
For all I know she has already done these. She is a dare-devil.
In fact alongside educational programmes there are a wide range of events arranged at the Pinetum.
Apparently there are over 12,000 trees inside the Pinetum.
There is the Leyland Cypress collection: the Thuja collection: Lawson Cypress Collection: Dwarf Conifers: Yew Collection: Juniper collections to see in separated areas and an Education area is laid out. One area is called The Glory Hole, another is The Old Man of Kent and there is a Walled garden.
You will find Churchill Wood, Marshall’s Lake and the Leyland Cypress Hedge as well as a whole area set aside (Forest plots) which is the site for trials and future Conifer Conservation Plantings.
The Play Trail and Go Ape (zip-wires and High ropes) lead into the Bedgebury Forest.
There is even an Events arena.
In the Spring there is a kaleidoscope of Azaleas, Daffodils, Rhododendrons, Bluebells and spectacular Cones which we just managed to miss by about two weeks I should imagine.
Summer-time there are ducks, wild flowers and many chose to picnic in the shade under the giant trees or at the areas set aside by the lake. Bird song is everywhere so I am told.
Autumn welcomes a feast of colour everywhere; the leaves must look fantastic in all their glorious colours. Apparently there are brilliant berries in sharp contrast to the rich green conifers.
Winter can be magical, so I am told, when a light dusting of snow or a sharp frost transforms the Pinetum into a winter wonderland. I’d love to see it at this time of year, but I know that whenever you visit, it is going to be fabulous.
If interested in finding out more about the National Pinetum or for visitor information I suggest you follow the links:
Bedgebury National Pinetum and Forest, Bedgebury Road, Goudhurst, Kent TN17 2SJ
All photographs (c) Jane Risdon 2014 All Rights Reserved.
In my next post (#7) I will be chatting about our trip to a Castle; I know some of you love castles so I hope you will stay tuned and if you’ve enjoyed this post and have not yet seen the other 5, do take a look and let me know that you think. I do hope you enjoy them.