These ancient woodlands are remarkable, the trees are huge and gnarly, and have plenty of open space between them to wander around in. They are nothing like the impenetrable mono-culture plantations that we are all depressingly familiar with. But unfortunately these forests are dying; overgrazing from sheep and deer mean that almost no new trees are growing. Eventually the existing pines will die of old age and there will be no more ancient pine forest remaining. Only drastic culling of the wild deer or the reintroduction of natural predators such as wolves can sort out this problem.
I drove all the way through the forest in my 4x4 and came out the other side high up on the wild Ryvoan Pass overlooking Glen More.
The pine trees were retreating but they were not dead yet. Some healing and some energy will facilitate regrowth and resurgence, and the recolonisation of the land by wild nature.
Arriving in Findhorn for my courses I learned more about connecting with nature spirits and elementals. On saturday we tuned in to the nature spirits in the gardens there and got messages from Pan, and then on sunday we went to the beach to meet the mermaids, spirits of the ocean. Amazingly some seals were already there waiting for us, heads bobbing out of the water as they inspected us. To me this was greeting enough from the ocean spirits! I waded out into the deep icy-cold water to greet them back.
On the way back from Findhorn I decided to visit another ancient pint forest, this time in Glen Affric.
I camped alone high up in the valley and was awoken in the dead of night by a strange whorling sound like nothing I had ever heard, and it was coming from right outside my tent!
A eerie noise like that made by a bullroarer or sound hose.
I poked my head out of the tent but could see nothing. The sound seemed to be coming from near and far at the same time. I climbed out and followed the sound into the trees where I was sure it was coming from, but I didn't seem to be getting any closer. I ended up following the sound in all directions for a couple of hundred yards but found nothing. Sometimes it sounded like something was flying right around my head! Freaky!
The next day I explored more of the valley and then went to Plodda falls. They have built a platform there so you can stand right over the gushing water!
I climbed to the bottom of the falls and stared up into the cascading stream of water.
I felt myself enter the top of the waterfall and dancing with all the tiny water sprites that drew their energy from rushing and cascading water. Behind the waterfall there seemed to be a passage leading into the realm of Faerie. I started to enter but at this stage didn't feel confident enough to go far. What if I couldn't find my way back?
I would leave that experience for another day...
Rob Wildwood (Aurvandil) has now released a book containing hundreds of his own stunning full colour photos of many of the magical places he has visited in his travels. The images capture the magic and mystery of each place and are enhanced by extracts of local folklore that reveal the magical lore of each place and tempt deeper investigation. Every site listed has full directions and map grid references that can be checked online, so join Rob Wildwood as you discover Britain's magical places at www.themagicalplaces.com