It’s no surprise that – as a vegan who has a passion for sustainability, and a laid-back attitude to my appearance – I would sometimes be affectionately referred to as a tree hugger. And despite the connotations associated with that term, I think I would have to agree. I really do love trees!!
I grew up in a small market town in Devon, and was lucky enough to be surrounded by beautiful countryside and enchanted woodland. My favourite thing to do growing up was to run through the woodland with my best friend (my adventurous and loyal dog, Roxy) and pretend that nothing else existed in the world other than the beautiful tall trees towering over me. I saw the woods as a place to explore nature, enjoy some fresh air and lose myself.
To this day, woods are still my favourite place to go when I’m feeling down, or just want to close my mind off for an hour or so. It’s no coincidence that woods offer the most peace and tranquillity, when they are the creators of one the most important resource we need; Oxygen. It’s estimated that we need 22 trees to produce the amount of oxygen consumed by one person, and the number we have on this planet is decreasing. So I have no shame in saying that I am a tree hugger; who has only love and respect for the life they give us.
One of my new favourite woody spots is a place I explored for the first time this summer with Roxys replacement; my grown up best friend, Caroline. She’d watched a documentary about scared sites (she’s a history geek like me!) and had learnt about St Nectan’s Glen – a beautiful woodland with a 60 foot waterfall with a punched a hole through its basin – was less than an hour’s drive away from where we lived.
Many myths and legends surround the Glen – from King Arthur and his knights to ghostly sightings – but the thing that stuck me the most was the way visitors had connected with the site. After making our way through the woods and along the river, our arrival at the glen was met by silence. A handful of people were already there, but everyone stood calmly in silence; looking up at the waterfall or toward the many trinkets hanging in the trees.
To many, it’s a very sacred place in which to celebrate, commemorate, or simply ponder. It’s a tradition here to leave coloured ribbons, crystals, photographs, inscriptions, prayers and other devotions along the rock walls and on hung in the trees surrounding the waterfall. Some people have also pressed wishing coins into a large log, which rests carefully on a stone alter inside the river.
At first I was a little grumpy about people “littering” the area with odd bits of fabric, plastic and photographs; but after a while I embraced it and saw it as a positive relationship with nature. There is also a great team working to look after the site (who are based in the lovely cafe overlooking the glen) so it’s certainly being cared for with respect.
It was a couple of pounds to enter (price differs per season and what events are happening at the time) and you can also buy colored ribbons in the cafe shop as an offering. It was a great day out and a nice treat to have lunch in such stunning surroundings. But more importantly, my visit here was a much needed reminded that we still have such deep rooted connections with nature, and – as the faces looking up to the waterfall proved – there is so much to be in awe of.