The countryside around Charlton Down this April is a landscape of rolling hills covered by a brightly coloured patchwork of flowering oilseed rape fields contrasting with spring wheat, each patch separated from the next by boundaries of ancient field hedgerows and trees with branches just springing into life.
I’ve been recording the changes that come with season and weather as I walk along the Cerne Valley Trail in Dorset, England. The horse chestnut tree by the stile in these photographs is a convenient marker to illustrate the transition from bare branches of winter to full foliage in summer. Already, by September, the leaves are turning brown getting ready to fall. It is not only the tree that shows the changes but the ground cover vegetation, and the crops in the fields.
A walk in very mixed January weather along muddy lanes, through arable countryside with freshly ploughed and green planted fields divided by clipped hedges. Rain and hail from dark clouded skies, and occasional shafts of sunlight, slant over low rolling hills trimmed by bare-branched trees. The local river full to the brim and flowing fast with turbulent waters, escaping into channels that once fed the old mill and water meadows. White fleeced sheep with pink noses feed near the old derelict barn.
There is nothing like a walk in the woods at the end of summer, just before the leaves change their colour and the trees lose their leaves. The dense undergrowth of ivy and ferns remains lush through the summer and into autumn and winter. The dense thickets create green-shaded walkways while woodland management opens ground to the light and allows saplings to flourish with sunlight filtering through their foliage.
The last couple of months have seen the wheat growing at a tremendous rate. From late April to early June the growing crop has shot up from a few inches to a couple of feet. The stalks are standing tall and the ears of wheat are developing well. The standing crop looks especially attractive when the sun shines through the leaves, and the wind sends waves across the field.
I walk in all weathers and always carry a camera. I like to record what I see and the changes I notice even if the conditions are not always favorable, as on this occasion. This March day on Charlton Down was marked by hazy sun, cold wind, and the merest hint of spring. Ploughed fields were white with chalk and flint nodules. Short shoots sprouted from the furrows. Sugar beet greened some fields. Trees bare but for lichen cast weak shadows on the turned soil, while neat laid hedges divided the vista. Farms and barns topped the horizons. Rusting agricultural equipment stood isolated along the pathways. A rolling misty landscape of intersecting curves surrounded my hill-top village.