Bewdley Town Council logo

December in the forest – Linda Iles


When we moved to Uncllys Farm 16 years ago we knew we were extremely fortunate, and every day reminds us of that. One result of the move was that we exchanged an urban existence in Bewdley to a rural one: we still have our friends and contacts in the town but our day to day interactions reflect the new location and land-based way of life.

Early on we were introduced as the new tenants of Uncllys to the Ruskin Land neighbours. These were the people whom we would rely on for helping us retrieve lost livestock and with whom we would appreciate our interdependence in times of heavy snow. In ‘the old days’ the post lady enlisted John’s help to collect the post from her at the end of the lane so that it could be delivered by tractor.

Next came the service providers and delivery drivers. The man from BT Openreach was about the only one who said he would hate to live “all the way out here” –  most share our view that we are very lucky, even if some have had to struggle with being misdirected by their Satnavs! A local firewood supplier started us off with our plan to use short-term cycle carbon while the local gas cylinder sellers helped us out when we realised that we ‘could not live by wood alone’! (That first winter was jolly cold.) We got to know suppliers of animal feed, fencing wire, timber and stone and couldn’t have managed without the friendly advice of graziers who brought their sheep or sold us the Dexter cattle to start our herd.

And then there were the volunteers. We had both worked for the Conservation Volunteers and firmly believed in the value of involving people whose idea of fun is working on some agricultural or conservation task in the open air. At first there were friends, colleagues and folk with some time on their hands who helped with planting trees in the orchards, putting in gate posts etc. A church in Wolverhampton made many visits and were responsible, among other contributions, for building a small bridge (the ‘blokes’) and helping to make the pond (everyone, from children to grannies). When the Wyre Community Land Trust was formed it became the home of a volunteer group which has been indispensible in managing the meadows and orchards scattered round the forest and who have become firm friends over the years.

Even now we’re confined to our home turf I look forward to meeting walkers out on the forest paths, many of them equipped with binoculars and cameras and full of information about the wildlife that lives all about us.

A quieter life it may be but we cannot manage without all these people and I would like to say “Thank you” for what they’ve added to our lives as we come to the end of this very strange year.

Linda Iles