However, for several days, the weather forecast had been predicting a 24 hour dry spell on Friday 21st December, so this seemed like my chance. Sure enough, not long after dawn on the allotted day, the sun broke through the clouds and the greyness gave way to blue skies. Fantastic! OK, so the paths would be muddy enough to please a hippo, but we can cope with a bit of mud. What's the worst that can happen? It's not like it's the end of the world...
A few minutes later, I had cause to remember that quip as I discovered that the road across the river valley was closed due to flooding. Again. So a bit of a detour was called for, through Newport Pagnell, where the extent of the flooding was visible from the road bridge. I had decided to park in a different place for my final monthly report, so that I could photograph the approach to the wood from across the fields to the south. This meant the walk would be a little longer and muddier, but the low Winter sun would light up the scene perfectly.
Eh? Where had all the fog come from? I phoned Second Born to check whether it was still blazing sunshine at Tense Towers (less than 2 miles away) and it was. I don't think she believed my very local weather report!
Even as I ended the call, the view back towards home started to take on the feel of a post-apocalyptic nightmare. Surely not... Well, there wasn't any time to worry about that, as those blogposts don't write themselves.
So here we are, back on more familiar ground. And the good news was that there was plenty of water in the car park pond! In fact, I don't recall ever seeing it this full.
With all the dampness about, mosses and fungi were thriving on any surface they could find.
Towards the centre of the wood, where four rides formed a junction, there used to be an old Oak tree. This fell down many years ago and had been slowly decaying with the help of an army of invertebrates. To replace it, come local school children planted a sapling in 1991 and this is now into its third decade. Still some way to go to assume the mantle of its forebear, mind
Just so that we didn't forget the wheel of the year is turning, Hazel catkins were already in evidence and connected to the wood wide web.
Long before the Wildlife Trust was involved with the wood, there must have been some small scale charcoal production on the site, of which these rusting oil drums are the only evidence.
At the north end of the wood, the meadow had emerged from the flood and the sun had finally put in an appearance, which prompted me to head back southwards. There were only a few species of birds to be seen or heard, but Jay, Marsh Tit, Little Owl, Sparrowhawk and Little Egret were a pleasing collection, nonetheless.
Back inside the wood, I was fortunate to meet the reserve warden. For me, it seemed a fitting end to the year, and this blog project, to thank him and his team for all their hard work in maintaining the habitat of Little Linford Wood. It is a special and biodiverse place, long may it remain so.
Yep, it was muddy.