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Whispering woods - tales from the Caledonian forest

As National Storytelling Week starts today, we'd like to share some fun, inspiring and thought provoking tales for you to enjoy. Trees and woodland are full of wonder and as such, they are a perfect subject for stories. 

Each of our trees and woods is unique. In their biology, geography, and history, in their spirit, in their aesthetic and emotional appeal, and in the meaning they hold for those who interact with them. Walking in woodland and contact with trees and woods is good for our physical, mental and spiritual health. To get absorbed in the beauty and detail of life in the woods is not to escape from the realities of life, but to become intimate and connected with them. Over millennia, as human beings, we have developed a multitude of ways to interact with these vibrant, dynamic entities.

Trees and woodland are full of wonder and a perfect subject for stories (Photo: Phil Formby/WTML)
Trees and woodland are full of wonder and a perfect subject for stories (Photo: Phil Formby/WTML)

The stories below have come about by virtue of me having had the good fortune to spend a substantial amount of time wandering and wondering in woods, many of them ancient, in Scotland and elsewhere. Often, I have been overwhelmed by the beauty of woodland, its shapes, colours and textures, and overflowing with a need to wallow in it and enthuse about it. Writing has allowed me to do that, allowed me to learn of trees and woods, and from trees and woods. It has also allowed me to share my passion and enthusiasm with others who intuitively feel the same.

Each story is based on one of our native trees. I have tried to draw on past and present understandings of trees and woods, whether that understanding was borne of folklore or of ecology, and have tried to incorporate into each story relevant aspects of biology, ecology, wood and timber uses, medicinal uses, place names, people’s names, and folklore. These podcasts, kindly funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, are abridged versions of the original stories (five of which appear in the book Whispering Woods – Tales from the Caledonian Forest). My intent was to imbue the stories with meaning, whilst hoping that they would work as stories, independent of any such meaning.

I hope that you enjoy listening to these tree tales, and that they may add another layer of appreciation to your own wanderings and wonderings among trees and woods. 

Listen   1. In the land of the glittering wood (15m48s) 

Listen   2. The songbird's surprise (22m18s) 

Listen   3. Who are yew? (18m15s) 

Listen   4. The enchantment and the charm (26m52s)

Listen   5. The ferryman and the fern king (26m42s)

Listen   6. The phoenix and the flame (31m59s) 

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