Autumn in the Peak District

The east track of Derwent Reservoir in autumn. Upper Derwent Valley. Dark Peak. Peak District National Park
Down the East Track towards Derwent Dam 2016

The first day of September and there is a cool breeze coming through my open window.

Autumn is on its way.

Scout at the vets. Scout is a trainee search and rescue dog with me in Mountain Rescue.
Scout at the vets.

I have just taken Scout to the vets to be neutered, its not a thing I have been looking forward to and advice I have sought has gone either way, leaving me constantly thinking if I have made the right decision. It is not a good feeling. I decided to get the operation done now because I myself am laid up with a sprained ankle after slipping on limestone chipping in the Yorkshire Dales. So all in all its an odd time.

Monty standing guard
Monty standing guard and giving me accusing looks

Monty, one of our other dogs, sits across the landing from my office door just looking at me. Its as though he is asking me what have I done with Scout? Where is he?

I love this time of year in the Peak District National Park, the colours, the smells, birds scratching in the fallen leaf for food. Its a time of slowing down, shorter cooler days, longer shadows. The crowds soon stop coming into the Upper Derwent Valley leaving it to those who love to explore its hidden corners.

As nature shuts down for winter the landscape changes, it feels, smells and sounds different. Leaf is the first to fall, carpeting the ground in hues of brown, red and yellow. One of the greatest delights is the drive down the larch tree lined Derwent Lane to Fairholmes ranger centre in the valley on successive days and weeks and notice the colours turn from green to a vivid, almost fluorescent, yellow before the needles coat the floor in deep drifts.

 

 

Derwent Valley Autumn

It’s beautiful in the Upper Derwent Valley right now. The Beech, Oak and Larch are putting on a fantastic display of colour. The valley is probably one of the best places in the Peak District to see autumn in all it’s glory.

Thankfully the planners and builders of the reservoirs and the present day custodians saw fit to plant glorious woodlands including natural species, hence the colour.

The East Track is the easier walk, no traffic so you can amble along taking in the colours and that wonderful aroma of autumn.

The drive into Fairholmes from the Snake Road has to be one of the best in the country in autumn, a bit like New England, all golds, yellows, reds and browns.

Autumn on the Common

Nature put on a beautiful display this morning on the common. The sky had a broad undulating wave of cloud stretching from west to east. The cloud an Altocumulus undulatus, isn’t that a lovely name, hung like a roll of cotton wool just pulled from its packet. This type of cloud is formed when the air above and below move at different speeds, producing a shearing effect and giving us these soft billows of white fluffiness.

Autumn is starting to settle in now. The air is much cooler in a morning and the sun stays lower throughout the day. One of the nice aspects of autumn is the unexpected warmth the sun can give once out of the shadows. Sitting against some gritstone with the sun on my face and looking out across the Common is a pleasure I look forward to.

The Common has not started to produce its distinctive autumnal smell, decaying leaves, fungi, damp peat and earth, but it will not be long. The low sun gives a nice display of shadow lighting on the woodland floor. Streaks and dapples of sunlight dancing on the oak and beech leaves that carpet the woodland from last winter.

Autumn

thumb_p1050386_1024
The East Track approaching Derwent Dam, Peak District

The September Equinox and Solstice will soon be upon us, my favourite time of year. The photo is of the East Track along Derwent Reservoir in the Upper Derwent Valley last year. Nature put on a wonderful display before its winter slumber.

I am often to be found in woods in autumn, especially beech and oak. I like the smell as the trees release their fragrance out into the air, earthy and rich in truth. After a dry summer the woodland floor will be dry, the leaves creating deep carpets of orange and gold, the colours of the earth starting to rest.

It has already started to get dark earlier now, 7:30pm and the sun is going down. A well-timed walk in late afternoon rewards with deepening shadows as the sun heads for the horizon a blazing golden ball, so bright nothing else can be discerned. It is a wonderful spectacle.

Out in the Peak District you can find ancient woodlands, woods of oak and beech, intermingled with the gritstone, warmed by the autumn sun. Some of the woodland is hundreds of years old, some a mere few decades.

Back in 2014 I helped school children plant a new wood in the Woodlands Valley. Two thousand native beech trees, planted by the hand of a future generation. When they reach my age they can take their grandchildren into the wood they planted and sit and watch the autumn sun setting and the shadows stretching out towards them. Now isn’t that something.