““Fraxinus excelsior!” Bushcraft guide David Willis flourishes a stick in an impressive display of wand-craft. His Harry Potter like incantation is the Latin name for the Ash wand he’s waving. The Guardian recently selected David as one of the top woodland walk guides in the country. He runs Bushcraft courses and free guided family walks in Bucks. The ‘spell’ is just one of the ways he bewitches groups of children, and adults, into learning some of the magic of trees.
Harry Potter’s wand seller Mr Ollivander maintains “It’s really the wand that chooses the wizard.” But it’s not always easy to pop in to Diagon Alley. So if you’re looking for a spot of magic in the woods, or simply in the market for a new wand, how can you be sure which tree is witch? I spent a morning in the woods with David to pick up a few tips.”
Had the great pleasure of chatting to Bushcraft expert David Willis, who very kindly provided a guide to easy tree ID for an article I wrote about tree fact & folklore for Buckinghamshire Life Magazine – Which Tree, Witch Tree.
Lovely interviewing him in his office in the woods, with an old-fashioned kettle coming to the boil over the campfire, as he shared his knowledge & enthusiasm.
The Guardian picked David as one of their top ten winter walk guides, but he’s a man for all woodland seasons – delighting in the springtime froth of elder flowers, which he makes into tasty doughnut-like fritters, the bright berries of autumn and the sculptural branches of a winter oak outlined against a crisp sky. There are some of his top tree tips, alongside some tree folklore in the article: Tree Fact & Folklore, Buckinghamshire Life
David offers various bushcraft courses for adults & free guided nature walks for families as well as working with community groups and giving workshops at festivals: Bushcraft courses calendar Highly recommended!
“I leave David setting up for a wood carving course and carry away a lingering scent of wood-smoke, like a trace of enchantment. Whatever type of wand or woodland magic suits you, the trees are waiting to cast their spell, if you know how to look.”