Wildlife trust seeks to save woods that inspired Darwin

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A wildlife trust has been given the chance to buy private woodland that formed part of Charles Darwin’s childhood home.

Shropshire Wildlife Trust needs to raise £75,000 to buy the privately-owned piece of woodland in Shrewsbury that was formerly attached to The Mount, Darwin’s home during his school and college days and the place where he returned from his voyage round the world on HMS Beagle.

The acre of steep, wooded land includes what became known as the Thinking Path, along which Darwin used to walk as a child every day before breakfast.

The habit became ingrained in Darwin’s daily routine and when he and wife Emma bought Down House in Kent, they made their own pathway through the grounds and carried on the tradition of morning walks with their children.

TV naturalist Nick Baker launched the appeal at the garden in Shrewsbury yesterday as part of the Darwin Festival, a week-long annual event run by the wildlife trust with activities celebrating the naturalist’s life.

The trust said much of the extensive grounds attached to The Mount have been built upon but other parts have survived in private gardens.

The house and garden were sold at auction in 1867.

In a letter to his sister Susan in 1833 while aboard the Beagle, Darwin said: “I often think of the garden at home as a Paradise: on a fine summer’s evening, when the birds are singing, how I should like to appear like a Ghost amongst you.”

A spokeswoman for the wildlife trust said: “No other part of Darwin’s childhood home is accessible to the public, so this would provide a much-desired opportunity for people to see where the young Darwin lived.

“The aim is not to create a major tourist attraction but to provide a much-wanted place where people can see where young Charles Darwin lived and the landscape that he loved.”