The woodland situated behind Josephine Butler, Stephenson and the Maths department, enterable via the route to Maiden Castle, is an ideal spot. Simply hop through a small wooden gate and you are transported from the hustle and bustle of down-town Durham to a tranquil world of birdsong, wild garlic and sturdy trunks. A Narnia under our very noses.
Each step you take down the meandering path, to the wilderness of the last hill colleges, will lighten your stresses a little more. Mind the exposed tree roots. And the muddy puddles- they might make your dirty air force dirtier.
The further you wander, the more you feel set free from your worries. Go hug a tree. Sit on a log; they make perfect picnic perches. Admire the rolling countryside displayed in the deciduous frame of branches and moss; there are often flocks of sheep munching away at the field – they seem a friendly bunch. Take something from their slow-paced graze, their neighbourly affection and haphazard muddy imprints; away from the rat-race, there is peace and quiet and sheep.
Tilt your head backwards and raise your sights to the treetops – their nodding heads acknowledge the scudding clouds; you can nod too and join in the rhythm. Follow the branches down and notice the rustling of bird couples, on a nest-building mission, and brash squirrels’ intent on wrecking their plans. Watch out for catapulted acorns.
Come at the end of April and catch a glimpse of bluebell bliss; their bells cascading down the valley walls, an effervescent ocean of growth and hope. Continue along, until you reach a perpendicular path. May brings burgeoning blossom, to this trail, in Katherine wheel archways, where campions burst from primroses-adorned hedgerows.
For now, however, your woodland wander will be rewarded by the sight of pearly snow drops. Their arrival has been much anticipated. Now they have sprung, and spring has begun.
(Image: Grace Dobbie).