IF ONLY trees could talk, what secrets they could tell…
The ancient oaks and beeches of Burnham Beeches have provided a place of solace and refuge during difficult times this year.
Through the long summer holidays that followed the easing of lockdown restrictions, the woods have been alive with the cries of children and lolloping spaniels, a safe place to socially distance away from the pressures of supermarket shopping and public transport.
Paths wending through overhanging branches have provided shade from the sweltering heat of early autumn and shelter from the rain, a place for bug hunts and Pooh sticks, of family adventures and solitary wanderings.
From hungry ducks and moorhens to foraging ponies and cattle, the woods are home to an array of wildlife, from the ubiquitous pigeons and squirrels to the industrious ants, colourful dragonflies and elusive reptiles.
Spread across more than 900 acres, Burnham Beeches soaks up visitors and provides a cross-section of different habitats, from heathland ferns and heather to lily-covered ponds and carefully grazed wood-pasture.
A national nature reserve for almost 30 years, it is an oasis of calm in a hurried world, and one which hundreds of local families will remember with affection for the part it played in making the long difficult summer of 2020 just a little easier to cope with.