Winter woodlands

From an early age, I have always enjoyed the enduring appeal of woodlands.
Where once they were a place to play out childhood fantasies, they are now  a haven of solace and tranquility, a source of pleasure from my walking and photography perspectives.

A walk around the woods at Shaugh Prior, just on the edge of Dartmoor is today’s destination, a place with the added bonus of the River Plym running alongside its banks.

The bronze and amber leaves of autumn have lost their crispness, as they lay discarded, turning slowly to mulch after weeks of rain, most of the trees, now stripped of their foliage, are arboreal skeletons standing bare against the elements.

Yet, amongst this austerity, the woodland still has treasures to show, rust coloured bracken against the lush green lichen coating both rock and trees alike, colour in this minimalist landscape.

Fungus that finds nourishment from a tree, long since felled, a single leaf hangs defiantly alone, just waiting for the next gust of wind to deliver the coup de grace.

I love the majesty of the granite outposts of rock, standing like guardsmen along the path, the sound of the river below, the wooden archways formed by the meeting of tree branches from either side of the path.

As much as I love to capture the essence of the woods throughout the seasons, spring will always remain my favourite, where the cycle of life begins anew, mother nature’s changing of the guard.

A walk in the woods

September has always been one of my favourite times of year, the turning of the season from summer to autumn, nature’s changing of the guard.

Watching the leaves turn from green to hues of orange and gold has always held a fascination, photographing them is a pleasure I will always enjoy, yet it is always tinged with that bittersweet taste of knowing dark winter nights are not that far away.

One of my favourite haunts to observe the rite of passage from summer to autumn is Hembury woods near Buckfastleigh, just on the edge of Dartmoor, the woodland lies alongside the River Dart.

With the summer holidays just a fading memory, I have the woods and river pretty much to myself, one of the advantages of having weekdays off from work.

With just the whisper of wind through the leaves and the occasional birdsong, it is so peaceful, a place to reflect or gather ones thoughts after a busy week, as I sit on a rock watching the river flow past.

As usual, my eye is drawn to those small patches of light that seep through to the woodland floor, also to the long since fallen trees with various species of fungi that will be prevalent at this time of year, along with the many fallen acorns.

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I tried so hard not to take the usual long exposure of the water, but those orange leaves that had already fallen on to the rocks were just too good to miss, it also gave me the excuse to stay by the river for just a few minutes longer.

After a four mile stroll, it is time to head back for a little light refreshment and something to eat before the next best part of the day, reviewing the days photos.