Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Peppercombe Chronicles

Peppercombe Valley - 1st January 2010 
Photographs and articles copyright Pat Adams (all rights reserved)
A stroll down to the old stables and back to see what’s new in Peppercombe Valley. It’s dark, cold and lifeless, or is it? (Note to myself not to wear fingerless gloves.) There is quite a bit of ground frost but hidden underneath are definite signs of plant growth including the huge pale green leaves of a Foxglove, fresh green moss, lichens, algae and fungus. The frost covered ivy makes an interesting winter picture. The only sounds are the cackle of a pheasant and the fast running stream. The birds are particularly active and it’s good to see a robin, blackbird and willow tit flitting back and forth across the track. I am passed by several groups of walkers and families offering friendly New Year Greetings. Easy to see which direction one party had come from as they were covered from toe to knee in the thick red Portledge mud. Water cascades down and under the bridge by the Pink Cottage and by the old beech trees. Spring Beauty leaves are frost bitten but visible on the grass verge opposite the old stables. Down by the meadows the first yellow buds of a lone common gorse bush make an early outing and two buzzards swirl and swoop on the wind aloft. It’s quite muddy on the track beside the meadows by the South West Coast Path steps. Looking back up from here the tree tops are bathed in golden sunlight in stark contrast to the gloomy valley below. My attention is drawn to the colourful ivy clad branch covered in grey and rusty lichens. As I make my way back a tiny Robin is tree hopping ahead of me, always keeping tantalisingly out of focus. Took picture anyway but its amazing how small a robin looks in a woodland setting as opposed to the garden. Back at the top blue skies as the sun emerges at last bathing the knarled branches of the old leafless trees in umber hues. Finally caught sight of another Robin and three blue tits in the hedgerows as I reach the final stretch of the trail.

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