Those dark and mag­i­cal places

The Sunday Telegraph - Travel - - Front Page -

h . ce n he ad­ows on.

. eart easy to get lost. Dusk can sud­denly fall and then in the dark­ness that fol­lows a mass of un­seen, scur­ry­ing crea­tures, real and myth­i­cal, comes to life.

Per­haps these ex­treme re­ac­tions ex­plain why forests have in­spired so many poets, vis­ual artists and mu­si­cians. Wordsworth and Co­leridge cel­e­brated the woods of the Harz Moun­tains in Ger­many; Henry David Thoreau mourned the loss of for­est as the cities of Amer­ica ex­panded. David Hock­ney’s York­shire paint­ings make him the lat­est in a long line of vis­ual artists who have found trees a pow­er­ful muse.

In opera, We­ber’s Der Freis­chütz and most of Wag­ner’s Ring Cy­cle are set in the for­est. Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gre­tel and Sond­heim’s Into the Woods are built on fright­en­ing folk­lore. Many ny a Sch Schu­bert song fea­tures a lo lovelorn hero tend­ing h his bro­ken heart pro­tecte pro­tected by a canopy of trees. Elg El­gar and Vaughan Wil­liams were in­spired by the wood wood­land of West Sus­sex and an Sur­rey re­spec­tive re­spec­tively; Arnold Bax wro wrote three mu­si­cal ton tone po­ems with fo for­est themes.

Most mu­sicm mak­ing to­day mainly ha hap­pens in towns an and cities; and yet as Rad Ra­dio 3 of­fers a place to find in­spi­ra­tion and to re­flect and take stock, it seems en­tirely ap­pro­pri­ate to take our pro­grammes and our lis­ten­ers “Into the For­est”. Each day will start with for­est sounds and sto­ries, and a playlist of works in­spired by wood­land at home and abroad, as I broad­cast live from a dif­fer­ent lo­ca­tion each day. Oak from Tol­ly­more For­est was the wood of choice for in­te­rior de­sign­ers work­ing in Belfast on the ships of the White Star Line, in­clud­ing RMS Ti­tanic. Gothic gate arches and fol­lies (in­clud­ing a barn de­signed to look like a church) re­flect the place’s his­tory as the demesne of the Earls of Ro­den; it be­came North­ern Ire­land’s first state for­est park in 1955. Sal­mon and trout spawn in the Shimna river, which flows through the for­est, crossed by 16 bridges. Its reg­u­lar use as film­ing lo­ca­tion for Game of Thrones means Tol­ly­more has now found a whole new au­di­ence of for­est lovers around the world. cen­tury, lum­ber, cop­pic­ing for char­coal and hun­gry deer meant that the Cale­do­nian for­est covered lit­tle more than five per cent of the coun­try. Glen Af­fric, per­haps the most beau­ti­ful of all the Scot­tish glens, in­cludes one of the sur­viv­ing rem­nants, with pine, oak and birch trees, sit­ting along­side breath­tak­ing lochs and moun­tains. The ur­gent na­tional need for wood after the First World War prompted a mas­sive re­plant­ing pro­gramme in Scot­land. To­day, part of Glen Af­fric is ded­i­cated to re­gen­er­a­tion; the Scot­tish Govern­ment is aim­ing for 25 per cent for­est cover by 2050. Walk through the Gwydyr For­est and you’ll keep com­ing across old en­gine houses, slag heaps and reser­voirs, a re­minder of its in­dus­trial her­itage. This was a cen­tre for Welsh lead and zinc min­ing from 1850 to 1919. To­day, the dis­used work­ings are a per­fect breed­ing ground for rare plants and Wil­liam the Con­queror pro­claimed the New For­est as royal land soon after his ar­rival. In 1086, the Nova Foresta was the only for­est de­scribed in de­tail in the Domes­day Book. Wil­liam de­stroyed 36 vil­lages while tak­ing the land; fu­ri­ous lo­cals got their re­venge – one of his sons was shot by an arrow, a grand­son hanged be­tween boughs of the trees. The for­est is man­aged by a Verder­ers’ Court, its leader ap­pointed by the monarch. Five Agis­ters su­per­vise a sys­tem that al­lows com­mon­ers to graze cat­tle and ponies. The New For­est has long been a source of tim­ber for the Royal Navy. Ships were built for Nel­son’s Trafal­gar fleet at Buck­ler’s Hard.

BBC Ra­dio 3’s Break­fast pro­gramme airs week­days be­tween 6.30am and 9am. The “Into the For­est” sea­son will run for a week from to­mor­row; bbc.co.uk/ra­dio3

Glen Af­fric, left; Sher­wood, main; New For­est, be­low; Petroc Trelawny

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