Pokehouse wood is at the far western end of the estate and getting there and back to the Castle is a distance of about 5½ miles. The first couple of miles are quite easy going, mostly along an asphalt forest track. Not long after leaving the main track the route drops steeply down to the bank of the river Lugg. At this time of year, February, there is normally a delightful display of snowdrops on the banks of the River Lugg. This display can normally be seen from well above the river whilst dropping down into the valley.
Pokehouse Wood is referred to as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) because the Lugg runs through it. It is the river that has SSSI status because amongst many other things it has a breeding population of nationally rare fish species, it is the known territory of the Otter, it has a range of Invertebrates that inhabit its fast and slow flowing stretches; along with the aquatic and semi-aquatic plant species that these creatures feed on.
I was interested to know what Poke or Pokehouse meant, is there or was there a house? For some it has a notorious reputation. One suggestion is that the word Poke is derived from the name of ‘Puck’ the mischievous imp of English folklore. The Welsh called him Pwca, which is pronounced the same as his Irish incarnation Phouka, Pooka or Puca. Pokehouse Wood had a reputation for travelers and in particular young maidens getting lost or being lead astray as they were making their way home to Aymestry. So concerned was one local resident of the village that he donated money to employ someone to ring the bell at Aymestrey Church just before sunset in order to warn travelers in the wood that darkness was approaching. I’m still searching to find out where the ‘house’ bit fits in.
In the base of the valley there are also a couple of quarries and two lime kilns.
The lime kilns are long since derelict and have barriers placed in front of them, they were circular in construction and built of brick. They are set next to each other and periodically we go and cut back the undergrowth that grows around and inside them. The close proximity of the quarry the kilns and the river have me wondering about the nature of the work that went on down there and how the lime would have been transported. Where was the lime bound for? Could the river have been used? More research needed here I think.
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