On the trail

The pace of the advancing autumn is picking up. A much more subtle approach than spring. Growth disappearing is often less noticeable than brightly coloured flowers emerging or strong, sappy shoots pushing through the soil.

From the lane looking across the valley to the east and closer in Low Park Wood I could see the beech trees already turning coppery with golden yellow. That haze that comes at this time of year was in the valley, just short of a mist but enough to soften the landscape, almost like the land was going to sleep and didn’t want to be disturbed.

The lanesides were jaded greens and browns, brown being predominant. However, there were colourful points such as the single Knapweed flower and indeed the single Yarrow flower both look set on flowering as long as they can. Domesticated relatives of the Knapweed are flowering in gardens at the moment, some for the third time.

As I drew level with hen huts there were some nice clumps of Spearmint on the beckside. Then my attention was drawn to the call of a Raven. It a while to locate the bird and then I saw the bird. High up in the blue against the sun.

I often see Ravens around the area. They are such a bird of wild places that it seems strange to see them in a more pastoral landscape. There is no mistaking the call though and as if to underline the difference a group of seven Carrion Crows took off from a tree. The Ravens call still dominated the proceedings even from high up. It somehow had a presence, a story, a drama attached which made the Carrion Crows with all their noise and numbers seem almost insignificant.

Down by the pond a Chiffchaff was calling, perhaps one moving south, such a loud call for a small bird. Just then I thought I hadn’t seen any Swallows. Perhaps they too had begun their migration. Usually they are around the farm.

On across the fields to the wood past gentle sheep resting in the sun.
By now a gentle breeze had picked up from the north-west. The sound that leaves make in summer in a breeze is a soft sound, almost a swish. Drawing near the wood the leaves on the trees were making a harder sound, a dry rustling and scraping, autumn.

In the wood fallen leaves were everywhere being topped up constantly by other leaves clattering down from a height. The floor was littered with leaves covering wilted and browning woodland plants. There was no doubt that the dry weather had contributed to the early fall, judging by the wilted plants that had been erect last month.

As I neared the first stream crossing I took in the view to the south-west and Sizergh Fell. Blue sky and fleecy clouds on the breeze. The Fell in the background with the view framed in the foreground by seedheads looked wonderful I gazed for a long time and then a Buzzard glided by as if wanting to be in the view. The big clearing had been mown and also some of the ridesides, so no insect activity there.

I took the opportunity of pulling a late flowering Himalayan Balsam which had plans for producing seed for next year. There are one or two to be found still in the woods proper but most have been eradicated by the National Trust woods staff. The plant is still around on the river banks, spreading seeds downstream, and eroding banks as is it’s nature. I enjoyed the rest of the walk to the top of the wood the beeches being especially beautiful in their autumn colour.

Out to full sun again on the way to the farm and a glorious view down the valley that was very inspiring and made one glad to be alive. Yes, as good as that! I crossed the beck below the car park and then a familiar call. A swallow! I thought they’d left. Flying madly across the bank like they had done a month before. Joined by another one, I wished them both well and hoped to see them next April.