Autumn colours, Northumberland National Park

The lovely autumn colours of 2018 are beginning to fade, as the leaves continue to fall. This is one of my favourite times of the year. The last week of October and the first week of November see the climax of the autumn in Northumberland before the days become ever shorter and the landscape changes into the more subdued colours of winter. This view looks across the North Tyne valley near Bellingham, towards Callerhues Crags, with the Hesleyside woods in the foreground, and is in the 2019 Seasons of Northumberland calendar. I’ve heard rumours of a cold winter ahead and am looking forward to some fine frosty days after this very mild autumn. This weekend I’ll be at the Christmas Fair at The Sill on Hadrian’s Wall, the National Landscape Discovery Centre – hope to see you there!

Autumn light

After a long a slow build up, the autumn colours are at last looking pretty good, even though it is so late in the year and the leaf fall is well advanced. Autumn in Northumberland is a week or two late this year but the last few days have seen some cold nights and bright sunny days and this has enhanced the colours. So there are some new photos in the bag for future Seasons of Northumberland calendars. It’s always good to get out of my office and to spend some time in nature, here in the North Tyne valley in Northumberland National Park.

Autumn in Northumberland

I don’t think this has been a very colourful autumn compared to previous years. 2016 was very good for autumn colour, this year is distinctly quieter in terms of colour, but there is still time for colours to deepen before more leaves fall in the next gale. This year’s Seasons of Northumberland calendar has a view of beech woodland in Northumberland National Park for the month of October. It’s actually only two minutes walk from my house and the woods have some magnificent ancient oaks, beeches, Scots pine and larch. In the recent storm, a huge beech limb came crashing down about 20 yards from the house, fortunately far enough away to cause no damage.

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness

Autumn can be one of the most beautiful seasons of the year, and in Northumberland, the peak of the autumn colours is usually in the last week of October and the first week of November. Misty autumn morning always bring to mind the famous poem ‘To Autumn’ by John Keats, written in 1819. This view shows Hexham Abbey on a fine autumn morningm with mist across the Tyne valley, which was in the Seasons of Northumberland calendar a couple of years ago. Today, the sun is shining and there is the promise of a fine day, with exceptionally warm temperatures as Hurricane Ophelia approaches from the Atlantic.


Red admirals

Yesterday was the most lovely day, a brief taste of Indian summer before the next weather front. After years of poor summers and the decline of many butterly populations, it was wonderful to see dozens of red admirals feasting on flowers in the garden, the most I have seen for a long time. Like honeybees, butterflies are a sensitive indicator of weather conditions, the seasons, and the environment. Warm sunny days at this time of year are a real bonus, before the onset of the long Northumberland winter. But in the meantime we have the autumn colours to look forward to, peaking in another three to four weeks.


November is a wonderful month, a turning point between the colourful days of autumn and the increasing darkness of winter. This year the autumn seems to have been very long and gradual, with the colours lingering much later than normal, and not too much wind. I always enjoy selecting images for the Seasons of Northumberland calendar every year, and November is an especially rich month for photography, with the a climax of autumn colour occurring in the first week of November and the last week of October in this part of the world. The North Tyne valley in Northumberland National Park has many scattered woodlands with a range of native species such as oak, birch and larch, as well as plantations of conifers. For details of woodlands, soft overcast light is ideal, as this kind of underrated photographic light is perfect for good colour saturation and the recording of detail. This image was made of medium format 6 x 7 cm transparency film in the pre-digital era,  not all that long ago. It shows a beautiful maple tree at Sidwood near Greenhaugh in the Tarset valley, with the glorious colour of maple leaves contrasting with the subdued background of greys and greens. This image appears in the 2016 calendar.

Northumberland National Park

The autumn season this year has been magnificent. A long, sunny spell of weather, followed by some colder days, and not much wind, has kept the leaves on the trees for longer than normal, and the colours seem to have peaked a few days later than average. Northumberland National Park often looks at its best late in the year when the low angled sun catches the gold, yellow and warm brown colours of the hills, and the wooded valleys are filled with autumn colour. This image shows the dazzling colours of a bright November day in the Tarset valley near Greenhaugh and Bellingham.