Daughter, K and I took Buddy Dog for a walk in Thrunton Woods yesterday. Last time we were here it was full of Autumn colour and fungi, but the woods have much more of a feel of winter now, though are still very beautiful.
There are some patches of autumn colour on the occasional broadleaved tree than has retained a few leaves in a sheltered spot.
The mustard-yellow needles of larch add a splash of colour.
The bracken has taken on a pale russet shade.
The only flowering plant we saw was this solitary yellow hawk bit.
As leaves have fallen, the evergreens take centre stage. Thrunton is primarily a coniferous forest, but even among the conifers there are many shades of green as you can see here in this stand of young trees.
Among the evergreen shrubs is this Rhododendron ponticum. It is an absolute beauty in spring with exotic large lilac-purple flowers, but it is a thug of a plant! It is a non-native that was often introduced into parkland as dense cover for game, but it is so dense that it shades out native ground cover plants. It spreads rapidly by runners and native grazers and insects don’t eat it. Many years ago K and I were members of a conservation group that spent many a happy Sunday “Rhody Bashing” : removing these plants from neglected parts of a country park near where we lived at the time.
There is also quite a lot of gorse (locally known as whin) with its vicious spines.
Broom grows on the trail margins too, and some of the bushes have the remains of the seed pods still attached.
There is also an occasional holly bush, like this one hiding behind the gorse.
Closer to the ground is wild bilberry, which loves the acidic peaty soil here. They are delicious and make wonderful pies and crumbles, staining your tongue blue if you eat them. Bilberries were available in the shops when I was a child but I have not seen them available commercially for many years. We did try picking them once. The fruit are so tiny that after a couple of hours we only had a small saucerful so haven’t bothered since!
Also associated with the peat is this moss – there are some wonderful mosses in the woods
Although the bracken has gone, some ferns have retained their green fronds.
Buddy adores running about the woods. We saw several other walkers, dogs and cyclists too. The car parks were overflowing but this woodland is big enough to accommodate all the visitors easily without seeming at all crowded.
From the woodland edge we could see the farmland below and the Cheviot Hills in the distance.
It was a lovely way to spend an afternoon.