Sunday, 31 May 2009

Ashridge Estate

This weekend I went to the National Trust's Ashridge Estate. This is a large area of woodland with some chalk downland and hills that lead to Ivinghoe Beacon. The Beacon views are superb although I was perplexed by the sight of what appears to be a white lion carved on a hillside (in contrast to the usual tradition of white horses). The woodland is mainly beech, not as ancient as Savernake because beech trees only live about 250 years..although there's still something about the way the dappled sunlight plays through the trees that makes one think of wood nymphs. In the book Spirit of Trees, by Fred Hagenender, he says all trees have different spiritual qualities and beech supports contemplation and clear thought. The trees are conducive to gathering one's thoughts and coming back refreshed. After doing my 7 mile walk circular from the Bridgewater Monument, I drove to the Pitstone Windmill which is supposed to be the oldest windmill in the British Isles. The windmill (speaking of windmills generally) is of course iconic from most of my favourite horror films - particulary Frankenstein - and in his commentary for Sleepy Hollow Tim Burton explains how it has become an iconic image in horror films and how he used it in Sleepy Hollow.

The Pitstone Windmill does indeed look like a film set. It wasn't open when I went there although it is supposed to open on certain sundays in the summer, so I may go back and see it again. On the way through the woods I did not see any fairies but managed to spot what I believe to be a speckled wood butterfly.

Stills from Frankenstein (1931)

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