As a teenager, I used to walk through these woods. They are part of the Lickey Hills in the south of the English West Midlands. They are the same woods that Tolkien walked through as a boy when he lived in Oratory House in the hamlet of Rednal, then part of Worcestershire.
I would often head the three miles from home to there, my other home. I’d be clutching a ravished and crumpled copy of The Lord of the Rings and stay amongst the trees with the shades of Hobbits and Elves, Dwarves and Rangers whispering through the watchful woodland. I’d stay there all day and hardly notice as the sun swung grasping shadows around me before dragging dappled orange beams into the West. As twilight slipped stealthily into the wood, I’d head home with bats flitting around me guiding me through the spruce and pine trees.
Those moments, those days, taught me that Solitude was a kind and gentle mistress and that her cruel sister Loneliness would hold no sway over me as long as there were books and woodlands, leafy sunsets, and tender twilights.