Say it with trees! To celebrate the launch of the Daily Mail’s Diamond Jubilee Wood, five celebrities reveal their passion for the outdoors
DAME JUDI DENCH
Actress Dame Judi lives near Reigate in Surrey and has a daughter, Finty, who is also an actress. She says:
‘One of my favourite woods is Hackfall, near Ripon in North Yorkshire. It’s full of oak, beech, sycamore, ash and 18th- century lime trees. It was badly neglected for half a century, but the Woodland Trust have brought it back to its former glory, restoring the woodland walks.
'I’ve been aware of trees from a very young age – I have an astonishingly early memory of lying in my pram and seeing a chestnut tree above me. This was quickly followed by our spaniel jumping up on the side of the pram and me falling out!
Dame Judi says one of her favourite woods is Hackfall, near Ripon in North Yorkshire
‘I’ve planted about 35 trees over the years. Whenever a friend or relative dies, I make a point of planting a tree in my garden. I especially love oaks, larches and silver birches, which are so beautiful with their white trunks.
'My paternal grandmother was called Bessie Oak Smith, and Oak is part of my grandson’s name too. He was given an oak tree when he was born. Too many forests are being destroyed and we should do all we can to conserve what we have, and plant more. The more trees I see, the happier I am.’
Broadcaster Clive is President of the Woodland Trust. He lives in London and Argyll, Scotland, with wife Jane and their three children. He says:
‘I walk most often in the woods on London’s Hampstead Heath, with my terrier, Albert. It’s never boring, because of the constantly changing nature of woodland. I love the fact the trees put on such a colourful show in the autumn – there’s no real need for it, the leaves could just wither and die, but instead we get this panoply of reds, yellows and oranges. Perhaps they’re just being entertaining.
‘At our holiday home in Argyll, I often walk in the 10,000-acre wood at nearby Glen Finglas. What’s great about trees is their air of mystery. And it’s wonderful you can plant a tree and know it will outlive you. I also feel there’s a real affinity between older people and trees; you appreciate
them so much more as you mature. We can never take woodland or granted.’
Broadcaster Clive Anderson is President of the Woodland Trust
Outdoor types: From left, actor Roger Lloyd Pack, author Jilly Cooper and TV presenter Kate Humble
Springwatch presenter Kate lives in Wales with her husband Ludo. She says:
‘I’m so lucky our home in the Wye Valley is right by a beech and oak wood. You get that strange, pale winter light – it’s amazingly beautiful. The birdsong is just coming back to the woods again, and I can hear the birds flirting and calling to each other as they nest and prepare for the spring. This is a perfect time to see birds in the woods, as there are no leaves.
‘If ever I feel remotely gloomy, a walk in the woods cheers me up. They’re so uplifting, especially in the spring when the trees are in bud, and the green of the new beech leaves is coming through. I adore woodpeckers, and all around me here in the spring I can hear them hammering on the bark. I also love the bluebells, and soon we’ll be starting to see celandines, wood anemones and wild garlic. It’s like a crescendo of colours carpeting the wood.
‘I have two dogs – mongrels called Badger and Bella – and I’m never happier than when I’m walking them in the woods near my home.’
Author Jilly lives in Gloucestershire with her husband Leo. They have two children and four grandchildren. She says:
‘My favourite woods are in the Toadsmoor Valley in Gloucestershire. I think the county has the most heavenly woods in Britain. Woods are so dark and mysterious, and there’s a wonderful silence that really lets you think. I get many ideas while wandering around the woods with my two rescue greyhounds.
‘I have a great fondness for the ash tree. People tend to ignore it, but I think it’s lovely. We have eight acres of woods in our garden and when we first moved in here, one October, they were rather bare. But once spring arrived we had a wonderful surprise – we’d inherited a bluebell wood. They absolutely carpet the forest, it’s the most heavenly time.
‘I grew up in Surrey and Yorkshire, and trees were terribly important to me as a child. I found them so romantic and reassuring, and still do. We must preserve and plant new trees – it’s vitally important.’
ROGER LLOYD PACK
Actor Roger lives in London and Norfolk with his poet wife Jehane. He has four children, including actress Emily Lloyd. He says:
‘My favourite woods lie seven miles from Holt in Norfolk. They’re beautiful: beeches and chestnuts underplanted with bluebells and lily-of-the-valley. Now our children have left home, we have no ties and can walk at will. The woods are always changing – every time you walk there you see something new.
‘Trees have a fantastic ambience. They’re so wise and old, and I love their strength and shape: they’re such a life-giving force. I always feel, when I’m walking in the forest, that I’m among friends, and I think the trees have their own personalities.
‘My favourite sight of all is a beech tree in spring. I dabble in painting and I’d love to be able to re- create that image. Whenever I’m away, I long to get back to my wood. It’s where I feel at home.’
Want to enjoy your local woods See www.visitwoods.org.uk