Ancient Oaks

Ancient Woods at Staverton

To the west of Butley in Suffolk lies an 80.8-hectare Site of Special Scientific Interest known as ‘The Thicks’. 

The Thicks is an ancient woodland that is home to around 4,000 ancient oak pollards, some of which are at least four hundred years old and are the oldest oaks in East Anglia. It is also home to some of the oldest and largest holly trees to be found anywhere in Britain. 

There is a real magical feeling that one gets when walking The Thicks. As the name suggests, it is dense and dark in parts, imposed mostly by the holly trees, whilst the oak trees stand stark in their appearance, yielding a sense that there isn’t any notion that life will ever return to their grave and silent branches. Many stand stag headed and hollow with gnarled limbs reaching out above their green crowns, defiant of gravity around a century after they ceased to live. Underneath sleeps the bodies of their fallen, with various branches and boles laying as deadwood across the woodland floor.

Woodland photography, for me at least, often feels quite challenging. However, recently it’s become a genre that I’ve enjoyed pursuing and is a refreshing change from pointing my camera towards the sea. There is always an element of finding calm amongst the chaos, and this area is no exception. 

Gnarled Oak at Staverton Thicks

The oak woods at Staverton are the forests of childhood, the forests of dreams. Here perhaps more than anywhere else I have ever been, the forest of the imagination materialises, becomes actual; here perhaps more than anywhere else I have ever been, a smallish piece of ancient deciduous woodland opens into the world of magic, the place of fairy story that we inhabited as children and lost, I had thought, for ever.

Sara Maitland
Old Oaks At Staverton
Row of Trees at Staverton Thicks
Cows at Staverton Woods
Staverton Thicks Sunrise

All images shot with a Fujifilm X-Pro1 & X-T3 and Fujinon XF Lenses.

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