next parish along from Fawsley is Everdon. Here I found a delightful piece of woodland, called Everdon Stubbs. A hundred acres of beech, oak and other trees, it offers a wonderful escape from England's sometimes over-manicured landscape. Allow yourself to be guided (subtly) by the foot-trails, and you can walk for miles through murky groves, across oceans of fern, into sparkling clearings. Every so often, you'll come to the woodland edge, and be given vistas across this part of rural Northamptonshire.
There's a nice mixture of young trees, alongside old, old specimens. There's proper undergrowth and fallen trunks - this isn't one of those tidy woods. (It is run by the Woodland Trust, and a great job they've done on it). With all this variety of habitat, Everdon is teeming with wildlife.
Many of the older trees present wierd, unearthly shapes, bifurcating, trifurcating, quad... (well, you get the idea) - lots of trunks emerging from a single root.
This is evidence that this wood was once a thriving commercial resource, for these trees are the remnants of coppicing.
Coppiced trees were chopped off at the root, so that new growth would emerge over the next few years. These new "trunks" were kept clean of side-shoots. So, after a few years, there would be a crop of sturdy, straight poles - for building or tools.
The abundance of beech and oak here would have provided nutritious beech mast (beechnuts) and acorns. Pigs would have been kept in woods like this, to feed on this bounty.
There's plenty of edifying information to be gleaned from a place like Everdon Stubbs, but its chief value is sheer pleasure - hours and hours of it (you'll probably get lost - don't plan to arrive there near dusk), wandering about in this paradise.
And if you happen to be there with a special friend, you're unlikely to be disturbed by anyone for... well, long enough.