One of the tasks I’ve taken on this winter is to help document the state of Hatfield Forest, and the way it responds to our visitors as the weather deteriorates. The soil at the Forest is largely heavy clay, which easily gets waterlogged. That in itself isn’t a problem, but the thousands of people who walk here compact the sodden rides (the technical name for a path in a forest), expelling any pockets of air from the earth. Over time this kills the plant growth and is a critical danger to the myriad of unusual species which normally flourish in this unique medieval hunting forest.
A small group of us headed out today to walk two set routes through the Forest, taking photos at critical pinch points on the way. The plan is to do this once a month, so we can track how much the ground deteriorates through the winter. This will give the Forest rangers the information they need to judge which rides might need to be closed to walkers, to give them time to rest and recover.
I figured a series of pictures of mud, while scientifically important, might not be especially interesting to the folks here on Photoblog. Instead I’ve shared a couple of the more scenic shots I took during our six mile walk today. Some of the trees are still hanging on to a little of their autumn colour, but it won’t be long before all the branches are bare and we’re properly into winter.
21 November 2018