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Bluebells and ramsons in Robin Hoods Howl

coppiced beech wood and bluebells at Robin Hoods Howl
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Bluebells and ramsons in May

Spring, or more specifically May, is the time nature photographers tend to get very excited about the rich tapestry of bluebells and ramsons (or wild garlic) that carpet the glades of woodlands in the UK. Such woods are typically dominated by beech trees as they allow just the right amount of light to reach the woodland floor.

Robin Hood’s Howl beech woodland

There are many such woods around the country, some more well known than others. One which really ought to be more popular is Robin Hood’s Howl, a mile long ribbon of beech woodland near Kirkbymoorside in the North York Moors National Park. I have been there a number of times over the years, but not in recent times. With this in mind a visit was long overdue …

Its only a short walk west from Kirkbymoorside to reach the southern end of the Howl, or ‘hollow’ (I’m not sure where the ‘Robin Hood’ part of the name comes from). From there access to the woodland is gained by a gate.

gate leading into Robin Hoods Howl
southern entrance into Robin Hoods Howl

Thanks to a predominance of coniferous trees at this end of the howl there are no signs of bluebells or ramsons at this point but don’t give up. Within a few yards the evergreen trees give way to a deciduous woodland with a thick undergrowth of brambles and grasses.

footpath through brambles in Robin Hoods Howl
Brambles in Robin Hoods Howl

Ok, not very impressive and definitely not worth travelling to. However press on further into the wood and, assuming you’re there at the right time of year, you won’t be disappointed. The scenery does improve!

Ramsons in Robin Hood’s Howl

A few yards further on and the woodland is dominated by beech trees with a thick undergrowth of wild garlic. The footpath goes on for about a mile, meandering lazily through the sea of ramsons that populate this shallow, narrow valley. The stack of wood logs leaning up against the tree is evidence of coppicing, a practice common in such beech woodland.

footpath through flowing ramsons in Robin Hoods Howl
Footpath through flowering ramsons in Robin Hoods Howl

Sadly the day I visited the Howl was overcast so there was no light to play with, hence why I didn’t actually publish the above photo. Also, thanks to a storm that hit the area in the winter of 2015/2016 there are plenty of places where trees have fallen across the path and obstructed the way. To get a photo along the path without including any such trees took some effort. Such a shame. Hopefully this will be rectified at some point, if only to make things easier for photographers in the future.

Anyway, there was no time to get emotional about such things as it was time to make do and take some photos. With no light I tried a more detail shot of the path running through the wild garlic. Careful not to damage any flowers I found a small patch of bare ground off the path to stand on and took the following photo. I thought worked quite well as the red of the path contrasted well with the green ramsons … so I published it.

Bluebells in Robin Hood’s Howl

Throughout Robin Hood’s Howl there are small patches of bluebells that are in flower at the same time of year but they are far outnumbered by ramsons. There is one sizeable patch near the top of the Howl, at the northern end of the wood. It is quite far off the path though so I couldn’t really get in position without trampling over loads of flowers. That was no problem though as I had my zoon lens with me and took the following photo of them:

And thats Robin Hood’s Howl – a hidden gem of a woodland worth a visit at any time of year but definitely in the spring.

All my photos of the North York Moors can be viewed by visiting my North York Moors photo gallery.

Bluebells and ramsons in Robin Hoods Howl was last modified: August 18th, 2018 by Gavin Dronfield

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