Monthly high­lights to look for by TOM BAI­LEY – Trail’s four-sea­son photographer

Trail (UK) - - BASE CAMP -


A year or two ago, up by Stickle Tarn, I bumped into two guys search­ing off-path for some­thing. Be­ing the nosey sod I am, I went over to chat to them. They were look­ing for clubmoss. Two to four inches in height, these tufted plants look like tiny conifers on the ground. The pair went on to tell me how rare it is in the rest of the world – we have lots of it in the UK. I said “Yes, but we have no trees like you do!”. They had come from Bel­gium to see this moss, how­ever, and were in­sis­tent that clubmoss was more im­pres­sive and im­por­tant than any tree!


Shim­mer­ing when fully leaved, due to a ‘hinge’ be­tween the stem and the leaf, aspen has fairly small roundish leaves. The bark is light grey and very of­ten pit­ted, and is a great iden­ti­fy­ing trait. At this time of year colour changes in the leaves will be start­ing, of­ten pro­gress­ing through to a golden yel­low. The north-west of Scot­land has many of these beau­ti­ful trees.


Late Oc­to­ber, be­ing up in the Scot­tish moun­tains and hear­ing that ini­tially dis­tant honk­ing call, then scan­ning the sky to spy those strag­gling, semi lit­er­ate Vs in the sky... now that’s au­tumn to me. It doesn’t mat­ter what species they are – whether pink-footed, white-fronted or bar­na­cle geese – all that mat­ters is they are here. Re­turn­ing from their breed­ing grounds in Scan­di­navia and Ice­land, they over­win­ter on Bri­tish fields, and see­ing them high over the moun­tains, at the end of their epic jour­ney, is truly note­wor­thy na­ture.

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