It’s not everyday that I stumble upon a quiet green space with more than eight acres of ancient natural woodland. The Wick Local Nature Reserve is hidden behind Sandpit Lane, not too far from our house. We step through an old iron gate and enter from the southern end of the wood.

Donated to the local community by Sir Arthur Copson Peake back in 1929 “to keep the land in its wild state as nature made it”, it was declared a local nature reserve in 1995. Hidden in the midst of such a built up area, it feels like a portal leading into a mysterious land.

The arrival of September means that there are fewer flowers in bloom but the remnants of summer’s abundance are replaced with autumn’s own riches. Each tree trunk twists and leans, winds and bends into its own unique character. Soft yellow autumnal shades brush along the outermost leafy branches of a willow tree. Spiky green horse chestnut shells have opened up and are strewn across the woodland floor releasing glossy conkers. Their dried brown leaves crackle underfoot.

We sit on a bench beneath some oak trees, the dappled sunlight casts dancing shadows across my notebook. The shade feels cool and the sun catches the light on the surface of the leaves. Birds swoop and flutter, free and safe. September is such an active month for wildlife and a wealth of berries, fruits, seeds and nuts feeds more than thirty birds species in this woodland alone.

The warm tones of the red bark camouflage a squirrel preparing for the winter months ahead. It’s such fun to watch how utterly frantic they become in their Herculean effort to accumulate as many nuts as possible. Gnawing on bark pieces, leaping across branches, burrowing and sifting through the grass.

As we step away from the woodland and into a field we look into the distance and let the dazzling autumnal panorama wash over us. We take shelter as a light shower sweeps across the radiant carpet of grass. A small puppy appears, jumps, leaps, running as fast as his short legs will carry him. My husband spots the rainbow first, it arcs up above in between two tall trees, its soft colours breathe life into the glistening field.

According to St Albans City and District Council website, The Wick Green Space Action Plan was set up to “conserve and enhance the natural and historic environment… promote the creation of a wildlife refuge in a quiet area… and provide opportunities for the local community to engage with the Wick”.

We head home through Beaumont Drive feeling refreshed, passing by front gardens awash with white, pink and peach roses. I feel a quiet satisfaction to have discovered The Wick. I love the way nature continues to thrive and triumph in the middle of huge bustling cities and hope that in decades to come, the next generation will do better than us, not only by continuing to preserve and enjoy these precious green spaces, but by creating many more.