Swyncombe Bluebells

A walk in the woods
A walk in the woods
My photo-trips have been few and far between over the past few years. However, lockdown, updating my website, a bit of self belief and the thought of Bluebells, got me motivated again.

Its fair to say that this years bluebells are stunning given that there are so fewer people around and less photographers trampling all over them. Following a tip from a good friend, Mark Searle, I headed to Swyncombe in Oxfordshire (near Nettlebed & Henley).

The name Swyncombe comes from the old English words swin for Wild Boar and cumb or combe for valley or hollow. Swyncombe lies in the Chiltern hills c.5 km south of Watlington and 11 km north-west of Henley-on-Thames. Settlement is scattered amongst the hamlets of Cookley Green, Park Corner, and Russell's Water, and the population has probably never exceeded its mid 19th-century peak of 446, when all but a few households worked in the parish's woods, farms, and brick industry. Swyncombe House (the former manor house), was occupied from the 16th century by minor gentry, but burned down in 1814 and has since been twice rebuilt. Ewelme park in the south of the parish, originally a medieval deer park, acquired a much larger mansion house in the earlier 17th century, but that too was demolished within a few decades, and replaced only in 1913.

The parish extends from the scarp to the summit of the Chiltern hills, and lies mostly on chalk, capped along the ridge by a mantle of clay-with-flints. The relief is uneven, and from Cookley Green (at 224 m. almost the highest point in the parish) the land falls north-westwards to 140 m. at North Farm and 111 m. near Warren Bottom in Ewelme, giving spectacular views across the vale. In between, the deep dry coombs of Swyncombe Downs create a secluded and intimate landscape typical of the Chilterns (Plate 1), although one generally more wooded from the late 19th century than earlier.

The Bells, The Bells

The bluebells were very much out in force in amongst the trees at the top of the escarpment. There were few people around as i spent my hour walking through the trees to get my daily exercise whilst taking one or two snaps as i meandered through the woods. I took my walk at sunset so managed to capture the beauty of the setting sun amongst the carpet of bluebells which approached as I meandered through the woods.

It was a beautiful scene even if only for 1 hour and well worth a visit.

Take care.