A wintry weekend of walking in Suffolk, we enjoyed exploring with friends the intertwining of heathland, forest, marsh and coast around Dunwich and Minsmere. The architecture of trees stands out particularly in their bare winter guise. We could see limes that had been blown down in the '87 gales and resprouted where they lay, examples of old laid hedgerow trees that were growing horizontally, and flaky-barked birch glistening in crispy winter sunshine.
But the highlight was a visit to an area of wood pasture in Rendlesham forest. This was a new habitat to me. It is an ancient land management technique in which trees are pollarded and spaced to allow for grazing in between, giving rise to a specific pasture and home to specialist plants. The ancient oaks that stand there have such character as a result of this pollarding, with huge main boughs and twists, gashes and gapes that tell individual stories.
And in a final treat, as we pushed on through a positively Arthurian section of this woodland, we came across a herd of a dozen or more fallow deer, a harem of does with a single buck. After initially scattering to a safe distance, they surveyed us interlopers for a moment, before blending back into their sylvan shadows.