Last year, I heard that there was a “Fairy Walk” in Pembroke, Pembrokeshire. People began to put photos of their fairy findings on Facebook and I knew this was a place that we needed to visit. It took me a while to find out that the official name for this walk is Holyland Walk. It’s just outside of Pembroke town and there is a small, free car park at the beginning/end of the circular walk.
I told the girls that we were going to go on a fairy walk and see if we could find any fairies. Initially, they weren’t very sure about the idea, “I think the fairies will be scared and hide from us, Mummy.”.
“I’ll write a list of other things for us to find in the woods so the other girls aren’t sad if we don’t find any.” said Rebecca.
We began the walk with a bit of tree climbing, then onward to look for fairies…
It was so sweet to see them looking everywhere for any signs they could find- they looked high and low and everywhere in between, because if you look hard enough you will always find fairies…
Look up, look up, at any tree!
There is so much for eyes to see:
Twigs, catkins, blossoms; and the blue
Of sky, most lovely, peeping through
Between the leaves, some large, some small,
Some green, some gold before their fall;
Fruits you can pick; fruits out of reach;
And little birds with twittering speech;
And, if you’re quick enough, maybe
A laughing fairy in the tree!
“Look Mummy! Leaf fairies have been here and curled the leaves!”
“Aw, look what the flower fairies have made.”
“Oh no, an evil fairy has been here- the holly leaves are sharp to warn us to take care.”
“No, we’re safe, it’s just the holly fairy. She likes Winter and at Christmas time will make red berries to decorate her holly leaves.”
“Look, the fairies have taken the wild garlic!”
“Do they eat it or use it in magic, I wonder…”
When the woods are so dense, far more lives there than we will ever see or realise.
There were a few routes to choose from. We actually walked every route as we didn’t want to miss anything. Rebecca was quite funny at the end of the walk as she was sure that we’d missed a bit out, “We definitely haven’t got to the challenging part yet, it’s all been quite easy.” I explained that it just meant some of the slopes may have been slightly too steep for wheelchairs, pushchairs or the elderly and she said that she was expecting a practically vertical walk, like when we climb the mountains!
I, on the other hand, kept reading “fairly” as “fairy” because they were on my mind!
“Fairies have dyed the green leaves red, I wonder if they meant to?”
“I think I’ve found some fairy wings!”
“No, they’re not wings, but a tree fairy will make a nice dress out of the fallen leaves.”
“Oh look! They are growing fairy ladders!”
“Yay! Bluebells! That means my favourite fairy lives near here. Every bluebell has a bluebell fairy to look after it…”
The Song of the Bluebell Fairy
My hundred thousand bells of blue,
The splendour of the Spring,
They carpet all the woods anew
With royalty of sapphire hue;
The Primrose is the Queen, ’tis true.
But surely I am King!
The peerless Woodland King!
Loud, loud the thrushes sing their song;
The bluebell woods are wide;
My stems are tall and straight and strong;
From ugly streets the children throng,
They gather armfuls, great and long,
Then home they troop in pride
With laughter and with pride!
Cicely Mary Barker
The older girls strayed off the main path and on occasions would call to me and Izzy that they had seen a fairy but it always flew off before they could get close enough to see it properly. Apparently fairies fly with butterflies to help keep them disguised.
All over the woods, leaves and silky catkin were slowly falling from the trees
“Oh look! A heart leaf- so magical.”
As always we found and collected large sticks to help (and sometimes hinder) us on our way. On we continued, and we came to…
The real fairy part of the woods. Of course, the girls guessed that this had all been left here for the fairies. As well as the signs, we saw…
-fairy dust and fairy wings (this unnerved me slightly until the girls reassured me that fairies outgrow their wings and need a new pair, just as hermit crabs outgrow their shell…
-a poor fawn that had lost his ear (no-one had any reassuring words for this one)…
-some funny face accessories for the little imps…
and lots of other gifts and ornaments for the fairies. We left a magic penny each and the girls promised to decorate a pebble to gift the fairies on their next visit.
For me, the magic in nature is just seeing the amazing, beautiful shapes and colours that grow around us.
Onward with our walk…
Dandelions always make us think of fairies. We blow on them, make a wish, and thousands of fairies fly about to make it come true.
THE SONG OF THE DANDELION FAIRY
Here’s the Dandelion’s rhyme:
See my leaves with tooth-like edges;
Blow my clocks to tell the time;
See me flaunting by the hedges,
In the meadow, in the lane,
Gay and naughty in the garden;
Pull me up – I grow again,
Asking neither leave nor pardon.
Sillies, what are you about
With your spades and hoes of iron?
You can never drive me out
Me, the dauntless Dandelion!
We came across sheep and a sweet little lamb. We wondered if the fairies could knit clothing out of their wool during the winter time.
We found signs that fairies and other wildlife had enjoyed a woodland feast.
In typical Spring style, the woods were full of bluebells (and bluebell fairies, of course).
I mentioned earlier being hindered by sticks, well, Caitlyn accidentally hit Rebecca on the head with her stick. Caitlyn then felt guilty so instead of just apologising to Rebecca and carrying on, went off in a huff. After five minutes of Caitlyn hiding from us in the woods (whilst secretly following and me constantly watching her while pretending not to!) she eventually rejoined the group. It was strange how Rebecca (the innocent victim) turned out to be the one consoling the one who had hurt her, however that is often the way with these kids!
Petals, leaves and fluffy catkins snowed constantly on this little stream and it did look magical indeed. In the girl’s minds, this mud brown stream was made of hot chocolate which needed stirring and serving by them. They could have played by the stream all day.
They thought that we had moved into Winter and that this part of the woods was covered in frost.
Of course, by the pond there lived lots of thriving Yellow Flag Iris.
The Song of The Iris Fairy
I am Iris: I’m the daughter
Of the marshland and the water.
Of the clear and peaceful stream;
Water-lilies large and fair
With their leaves are floating there;
All the water-world I see,
And my own face smiles at me!
This board walk along the marshes was lovely with the reeds towering over us on both sides.
More magical loveliness of nature.
Funnily enough on our fairy walk, we were finding Rebecca’s nature list harder to tick off than we expected. We didn’t see any real ladybirds so we decided we would have to count Izzy’s hair clips instead. We see them every day usually (real ladybirds, that is).
We did find one lovely winged mini beast though!
And then before we knew it, we had reached the other end of our fairy walk and back to the car park.
Fairies or not the woods are magical. Apparently, some people don’t believe in fairies. Fairy-nuff! Even Cicely Mary Barker stated in the beginning of her The Complete Flower Fairies Book (which every family should own by the way):
“So let me say quite plainly, that I have drawn all the plants and flowers very carefully, from real ones; and everything that I have said about them is true as I could make it. But I have never seen a fairy; the fairies and all about them are just ‘pretend’.”
However, I believe that they will always exist in our imagination if we just open our eyes…
Therefore, as long as you believe in imagination, then you can believe in fairies, do you believe in fairies? Yes? Then, all together now…
“I believe in fairies, I believe in fairies, I believe in fairies.”