A few days ago I was privileged to have a walk with Mack and his dog. He took me on a circular walk around Ninewells wood. Catbrook wood is a small portion of the original nine wells wood. When Woodlands for sale buy up woods for subsequent splitting up and resale, they like to give each little bit a name, it makes them more user-friendly and from their point of view more saleable. We set off up the path that splits our wood from the neighbouring wood and then along the edge of Ninewells wood. There is a very substantial stone wall with views across towards the Bristol channel.
Mack explained that the wall had been constructed by prisoners of war from the Napoleonic wars. These prisoners were stationed on the neighbouring estate which belonged to the Lewis family. ( This is wrong, Mack said it was the Morris family and I did not remember the name but subsequently he put me right and I have now looked into the history of that family.)
If you get the angle right you can just see one end of the Severn Bridge.
At the end of the wall is a tumbled down tower, this is at a high point and was used, so I am told as a lookout tower where an overseer could watch the workers or prisoners or slaves working on the Morris estate. Mack said the Morris family were involved in the slave trade and had property in the West Indies.
At one place along the wall is a style, it has steps up the side and a big slab of stone in the middle. Unless it is pointed out to you, you would not notice the face of a fox which is sculpted onto the surface. Mack thinks this was done by one of the Napoleonic prisoners of war and he said that some years ago you could see some writing below the face. This he thought was in Latin, but it might have been French. Either way it is no longer visible and I think that in a few more years the fox will also fade completely away.
We continued our walk back through some areas owned by the Forestry commission and eventually back down a slope to where we started. Conversation drifted from edible fungi to forest management to making pesto from wild garlic and training of Spaniels and much more besides. It was a good walk, I hope I have remembered what Mack told me accurately, I am sure I will see him again and no doubt find out a bit more about local history.