IMAGINATION and make-believe are important aspects of any childhood.
Who doesn’t want to believe fairies exist? Even Sir Arthur Conan Doyle suspended his disbelief, illustrating one of his articles with photographs of the Cottingley Fairies, taken by young cousins Elsie Wright and Frances Griffiths, which were later revealed to be fakes.
My youth was certainly filled with stories of magical beings and tales of a boy who never grew up – I lived in Kirriemuir, birthplace of JM Barrie, author of Peter Pan.
So in the interests of scientific research, I’m heading off on an expedition with my girls, Eve and Hope and Hope’s good chum, Holly. We are going to Pressmennan Wood, 8km west of Dunbar, in search of shy creatures Glingbobs and Tootflits, who are understood to have made their home in the trees.
The Glingbob is part woodlouse and part bumble bee. It lives on the forest floor and its home is found at the base of a dead tree. The Tootflit is part dragonfly and part weevil and it can fly high in the treetops.
Hidden away down a bumpy lane near the village of Stenton, you will discover the wood. It is looked after by the Woodland Trust and there are around 6.5 km of trails to explore. We have come prepared. I’ve printed off a hand-drawn map and the girls are excitedly leading the way.
We easily spot the first waymarker, the yellow stone. It directs us down through mixed woodland. We inhale the delicate scent of wild honeysuckle, its tendrils gently hugging an oak tree. There are holly trees, brambles and vivid wild flowers dotted everywhere. We are drawn along the path, beside a small babbling brook as it meanders lazily towards the most amazing calm lake. This is a place where you genuinely feel magic, nature’s wonders stopping you in your tracks. It’s a hidden spot, and if it wasn’t for the map, we wouldn’t have known it was here.
We follow the rough-hewn pathway, which leads us ever onwards. The artwork we are searching for is a Wavey Wood Post, but first we spot a strange fish-like creature carved in a fallen tree stump. Local artist Robin Wood (yes that is his name) has cleverly created wood sculptures carefully spaced out at the very places where small feet are flagging. Even big sister Eve, who is a very grown-up 10, is carried along in the excitement of searching for the next sculpture. We continue on our journey, pausing to explore each place of interest but we find that sadly, the elusive beasties are not at home. I guess we will just need to come back another day.
Not everyone believes in fairies, but I do.
• Free, for more information on Pressmennan Wood, Stenton, nr Dunbar, East Lothian see www.woodlandtrust.org.uk; for more on the artist, visit www.robinwood work.com
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