we have come up to St Andrews to dog-sit Emmett, my grand-dog.

it’s not always easy handling the two of them, the leads quickly get tangled up!  Emmett is a bit of a grumpy old git, and pulls a lot.

now we are over the stress of a nine and half hour drive, which did not do either of us any good, she’s happy to have a friend to play with

we got held up by another bout of snowy weather and the car sat packed in the drive for two days before it seemed sensible to leave.

then two days of wind and sun and the snow has all disappeared, sublimated, straight from ice to vapour.

this is a beautiful place to walk. I’m sticking to the den (Scottish for a tree filled steep valley) and fields behind the house as we are better off not going anywhere in the car for a while. this old willow is one of a group of three growing on the banks of the burn before it descends down a fast rocky winding chute between the houses.

they half recline and seem to be supported by their side branches

on one side of the ravine there are graceful beeches, oaks, ash and sycamores

and two paths

the high road

and the low road which runs along side the rushing boulder-filled stream

the wood has been allowed to be its wild self for a long time. it has red squirrels as well as greys, but so far I have only seen greys

from it you can emerge into fields and walk back to the road, then find Spinkie den, or just double back as we have, to the open side of the den where there’s a surfaced path

the week before I had been into Bale wood with a friend, at home. it is quite overgrown with hollies and brambles, very different from the den wood, and so much ivy on trees too.

we discovered it has a lot of dying elms in it, many fallen

but others still standing and alive like this –  impossible to tell if the heart is carved or an accident of growth

this pool is spring-fed – the highest I have ever seen it. the first time I came there it was empty and dry, full of beech leaves. then last spring the water was bubbling up through the leaf mould, making the water shiver. the wood itself is full of these pools and sumps and swampy places and a sluggish little stream running through.

compared to Lumbo den it’s almost impossible to walk through, the ways are blocked by massive fallen trees, brambles and holly. perhaps the den is clearer because it is used by walkers and runners.