Tag Archives: UK woodland

Wordless Wednesday: In the cool calm of Summer woodland

In the cool calm of Summer woods

J Peggy Taylor

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Mushroom close-up

Zooming out for the bigger picture

“What’s This?” was the question Cee gave us to ponder for last week’s Fun Foto Challenge. We then had a lot of fun trying to work out what other people had posted.

For my entry, I zoomed in on some natural subjects, focusing on shapes and details. This week, I promised to post the original images so you can see the whole zoomed out picture. Here they are …

1. Woodland waterfall

Miniature waterfall on a woodland stream
Miniature waterfall on a woodland stream

This is one of the many small streams (or ‘burns’ as well call them here in The North 😉 ) that flows into the River Derwent in our local woods. I love this miniature waterfall as it cuts its way through the bedrock and pours down onto the next level below, surrounded by woodland greenery. I often find myself reaching for my camera when I see it. For the challenge, I picked out the water splash detail.

2. Hellebores in April snow in a plant pot

Hellebores in April snow in a plant pot
Hellebores in April snow in a plant pot

This is one of the two pots of the “Washfield Doubles” Hellebores I have on the steps by my back door. In this photo from April 2012, it looks like I was focusing on the quantity of late snow, rather than the plant itself! For the challenge, I chose the detail of the concentric curves of the terracotta pot, its black plastic liner and the topping of clean white snow.

3. Worm’s eye view of a woodland mushroom

Worm's eye view of a large woodland mushroom
Worm’s eye view of a large woodland mushroom

As I am not in the habit of crawling on my belly in beechwoods, you will notice this photo was taken by my son! I am always drawn to the unusual angles of this set of mushroom shots so I thought it would be perfect for the “What’s this?” challenge.

I enjoyed Cee’s photo challenge. I hope you enjoy my zoomed-out photos!

J Peggy Taylor

Greater Stitchwort's starry flowers

When I grow up, I’m going to be a …

As we were taking one of our regular woodland walks this weekend, we couldn’t help but see that the woodland floor is now growing abundantly with wildflowers. There are carpets of Greater Stitchwort – that’s the white flowers in my header image. I think it lives up to its Latin name: Stellaria holostea. The bright white flowers really are like myriads of little stars.

I found myself noticing not only the plants that were actually flowering, but also those that were still pouring all of their energies into growing and had yet to flower. I decided to photograph some of the yet-to-flower plants I spotted and make it into a fun quiz. Here are my woodland wildflowers.

Can you identify the wild flowers I spotted?

A fun quiz – featuring some common flowering plants you might see in UK woodlands just at the moment.

Mystery wildflower No. 1

When I grow up I'm going to be a ...?
When I grow up I’m going to be a …?
Can you name the plant?

No.1 is a spiky character, tall and lanky. The purplish tinges to the stems and leaves might help you to imagine it in flower.

Mystery wildflower No. 2

When I grow up I'm going to be a ...?
When I grow up I’m going to be a …?
Can you name the plant?

No.2 with its oval fleshy leaves. Its immediate environment might tell you where this plant likes to live and that’s a bit of a clue to its name too.

Mystery wildflower No. 3

When I grow up I'm going to be a ...?
When I grow up I’m going to be a …?
Can you name the plant?

No.3 is a very common plant of waysides and scrubland, not just in woodlands. It’s another tall-growing robust plant that’s very popular with insects, though I’m not sure about pigs!

Mystery wildflower No. 4

When I grow up I'm going to be a ...?
When I grow up I’m going to be a …?
Can you name the plant?

No.4 is one of the archetypal woodland flowers of early Summer for me, though its bright flowers are very delicate.

Mystery wildflower No. 5

When I grow up I'm going to be a ...?
When I grow up I’m going to be a …?
Can you name the plant?

No.5 is a nice easy one. Just look at those fat and fluffy flower buds ready to burst open!

Mystery wildflower No. 6

When I grow up I'm going to be a ...?
When I grow up I’m going to be a …?
Can you name the plant?

No.6 is one of favourite flowers of late Spring and early Summer. I love its clean and sunny nature.

… and finally – a mystery seedling

When I grow up I'm going to be a ...?
When I grow up I’m going to be a …?
Can you name the plant?

My children have always noticed these little seedling plants on the woodland floor. Those enormous seed leaves always look to me like an umbrella. Its fully grown parent makes a rather good umbrella when we’ve been caught out by a sudden Summer rain storm too.

How many of my mystery plants can you name? Please leave your answers in a comment on this post. I think all of the plants I’ve chosen have featured in previous posts on my blog … complete with their flowers. I’ll post up photos of the plants with their flowers and name them all next Monday. Hopefully I’ll be able to find the Summer rain storm ‘umbrella’ to show you too 🙂

Have fun with the quiz!

J Peggy Taylor

Nine Arches Viaduct from the meadow path

Scale in our landscape

History in the landscape fascinates me. I love to explore the architectural forms built by our ancestors, from castles to abandoned coal mines and from intact and preserved structures to stray bricks found in a stream bed. Whether I am exploring ‘virtually’, through maps and photographs, or physically on the ground, a question that I often ponder is, “Why was it built here, in this particular location?”

With the Nine Arches Viaduct, in Gateshead’s stretch of the Derwent Valley, it is possible to answer my question definitively. When the Derwent Valley Railway was built in the 1860s, the Earl of Strathmore refused to allow the railway to cross his land on the south side of the river and this meant two sizeable viaducts were needed to route the railway onto the north side to avoid the Earl’s Gibside Estate. I can appreciate that to keep the railway on a level route would have taken the railway rather close to the grand Georgian house and besides, the Earl’s coal interests didn’t require this railway line, so why would he help out his competitors?! Arguments of this sort were commonplace as Victorian coal mine owners sought routes to transport their coal to the River Tyne and so increase their fortunes.

Nine Arches Viaduct on the Derwent Walk Railway Path

The Nine Arches Viaduct now carries the Derwent Walk Railway Path, a multi-user route that is very popular for walking, cycling and horse-riding. This route is part of the C2C long distance trail between the east and west coasts of England.

Many people must travel over the rather unassuming concrete surface of the viaduct without ever knowing the reason for its existence and those who never venture from the main path down to the river bank would also never know the huge scale of this amazing piece of Victorian engineering, 500 feet (152 metres) long and rising 80 feet (24 metres) above the River Derwent.

Nine Arches Viaduct from the river bank

As you’ve probably guessed, the viaduct is known as the “Nine Arches” because it has nine arches, though only one of them actually spans the River Derwent.

Nine Arches Viaduct from the meadow

Looking up from the meadow and the river bank is the best place to see the impressive scale of this sandstone and brick bridge structure. The fence under the trees and the trees themselves in the above image give you some idea of the height of the railway viaduct. Now let’s take a look at the Nine Arches Viaduct from an elevated viewpoint.

Old Hollinside - panorama of the Derwent Valley in Autumn colour

Here we can see the Nine Arches Viaduct in context. You can see it is dwarfed by its own landscape setting, taking its small-scale place in this wooded valley. I think the view over this part of the Derwent valley is wonderful when the woodland is in its Autumn colours.

This post is my entry for the WordPress Daily Post Photo Challenge this week on the theme of ‘Scale’. I was inspired to take part in this week’s challenge by Cee’s entry at Cee’s Photography … it was that amazing maple leaf that hooked me 🙂

J Peggy Taylor

sprouting acorn in fallen oak leaves in black and white

Cee’s Black and White Photo Challenge: Wood

I love natural materials and wood is one of my favourites. When Cee asked us to focus on wood for her Black and White Photo Challenge this week, I knew this was a perfect challenge for me. Wood is such a natural part of my life and I find it is an amazing and beautiful material. Let me share with you some of the ways I enjoy wood in my life.

The entire lifespan of wood, from tree seed to decayed wood, is a story of life-giving processes and for me these processes provide endless inspiration. The sprouting acorn I used to open my post is for me a symbol of the birth of something new, perhaps a new project or venture that I want to nurture and grow to achieve its aims.

Sunlit woodland in black and white
Sunlit woodland in black and white

We live surrounded by woods and walk there often, so we experience all of the natural world’s seasonal variations that woodland has to offer. One of the many pleasures of a woodland wander is wending our way homeward along the old railway with the afternoon sun of early Autumn filtering through the trees, casting lengthening shadows across our path. The wooden bench at the edge of the track offers the opportunity to sit and take in the calming atmosphere of the wood.

fallen oak branch in black and white
Fallen oak branch and wooden fence

The wilder weather of recent years has taken its toll on trees in many places, including here in our woods. This substantial limb from an oak tree has been ripped away by the wind and now lies on the edge of the horse field. Fallen timber provides an amazing habitat for a whole array of creatures. The process of wood decaying is helped very much on its way by the many mini-beasts that live on dead wood. The wood of the oak branch may be dead, but it is still teeming with life.

working in wood in black and white
Working in raw wood – shaping a tenon on an ash pole with the axe

As well as walking in woods, we also enjoy working with wood. My son is shaping a tenon on one end of an ash pole as part of his pole lathe project last year.

 turned wood candlesticks in black and white
Learning to turn wood – some early candlesticks

When the pole lathe was completed, it was time to practice turning green wood. The candlesticks may not quite be a ‘pair’ in the traditional sense, but they did demonstrate a certain level of success and dexterity with the turning chisels. I love the way wood turning brings out the grain and other points of interest in the wood.

hand carved spoon in black and white
Cherry wood hand carved spoon

I was delighted to receive this hand carved spoon in cherry wood from my son as a Christmas present a couple of years ago. The carving has revealed the varying tones in the cherry wood. This wooden spoon has a special role in my utensil jar as my morning porridge-stirring spoon.

Decaying log monster in black and white
My Decaying Log Monster complete with fungi ‘teeth’

I laughed when I first loaded this image onto my computer. While I was out in the beechwood composing the shot, I never noticed the grinning monster. I only saw the sunlight picking out the rough textures in the decaying log that contrasted so well with the smooth fungi growing on the wood. I hope it makes you smile too.

If you too delight in wood, take a look at Cee’s Black and White Photo Challenge this week for more inspiring wood images.

Cee's Black and White Challenge Featured Blogger Award

J Peggy Taylor

My landscape - Springtime in the woods

My landscape for Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge

There are some landscapes close to where we live that I find myself photographing over and over again, in all weathers and in all seasons. For Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge this week on the theme of landscapes, I thought I’d share a few of them with you. My header image is one of our regular paths to the woods, looking across to the trees in their Spring greens on the edge of the wood, with the yellow of blooming gorse shrubs brightening the fields.

My landscape - October sunrise
My landscape – October sunrise

From our front window we look out eastwards towards the woods. Looking east also gives us the morning sun and some beautiful sunrises. I must say my early morning sunrise photos are generally taken through the window rather than from outside! Sometimes the sun puts on a spectacular colour show but I loved the gentle gold of this one. You’ll see this same view in very different weather on the image I’ve chosen for our Oak Trees Studio greetings card across on the right.

A favourite walk westwards from our village, along part of an old railway line, gives us fabulous landscape views out across the valley. In Spring we see the trees gradually greening up with their new season’s foliage and the bright greens of distant field crops. Summer brings darker greens in the trees but also bright splashes of yellow in the fields and, on a clear day, the purple of the heather high up on the moors.

My landscape - across the valley
My landscape – across the valley

This view westwards with its ever-changing vista often provides us with a weather preview before we experience it first hand and also some wonderful cloudscapes. As we wander along the valley side, we’ll often stop to take in the view, spotting the shapes in the clouds or commenting on the sunbeams glancing down through the deep cumulus clouds. I love the moody sky over the Summer valley in this photo.

My landscape - homeward from a Winter walk
My landscape – homeward from a Winter walk

In Winter our walks usually take us out into the woods, whether we are squelching through oozing mud and puddles or crunching through crisp snow. When our Winter ramble is done, we head homeward, leaving the woods behind us and dropping back down across the meadow path into the village. Again we can take in the scenic landscape looking westward over the valley, with its big skies and cloud patterns. At this time of year, if we time it right on a clear day, we can watch the setting sun slip down behind the horizon as we emerge from the cover of the woods and follow the field path down to the road.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this brief glimpse into my daily landscapes. Do take a look at the landscapes and seascapes others have shared for Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge this week.

J Peggy Taylor