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Taking a Walk: Bardney Limewoods, Lincolnshire - Patrick Barkham

Travel | By Patrick Barkham

illustration by Gary Wing

Lincoln greens and meadow browns

I know a bank where the wild thyme blows. There are oxlips and nodding violet, woodbine and eglantine. This dream of midsummer must be reached over bleakly rolling flatlands of wheat and Italian rye grass – and there it glowers, in the darkest of greens, a fragment of fairyland poetry in a prosaic landscape. Nothing billows quite so promisingly as the edge of a wood in the ordered, arable lowlands. So it was with Bardney Limewoods, an unkempt beast of blackthorn, hawthorn, sallow, hazel and small-leaved lime in the middle of intensively ploughed, scalped and tended Lincolnshire. Forests are exceptional places – for, despite our many cultural celebrations of trees and woods, we are not a nation of woodlanders. As the great chronicler of British woods Oliver Rackham revealed, these islands were never swathed in dense wildwood, and most trees were swiftly felled when our neolithic forebears began their agricultural...

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