Category: Landscape

Running

Running

Running, I think, is my favourite way to pay attention. Sometimes it is difficult. Sometimes the muscles in my legs complain. But I keep going. Eventually, the discomfort eases. I find a rhythm, a pace which allows me to see. I like to run on the bookends of the day. I have tried it in the middle, but even in winter I find the light, and warmth, too harsh.  I relish it best in the morning,...

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Less is More

Less is More

After dreaming of Ceps (Boletus edulis) and Fly Agarics (Amanita mascaria) I took myself to a well-walked woodland in the Blackdown Hills which seemed like a good place to search for fungi. I didn’t expect to find much, but the dream was so vivid that it felt remiss to ignore it. At the time, I had no idea that the two species frequently grow alongside one another, both having mycorrhizal...

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Ghosts and Giants on Hermaness

Ghosts and Giants on Hermaness

As soon as we knew that our trip to Shetland was definitely happening, the first place Simon and I honed in on, independently, was the island of Unst. Unst is Shetland’s most northerly inhabited island. If you were to get in a boat and head directly north from its upper end, between the rocky outcrops of Muckle Flugga and Out Stack, you’d eventually reach the North Pole. Legend has it that the...

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Storm Petrels in the Simmer Dim

Storm Petrels in the Simmer Dim

The boat is already laden with people. We're not late, but perhaps this is one of those instances where arriving half an hour early was the correct thing to do. I dash down to the owners, who are standing at the land end of Sandsayre Pier, near Sandwick on Shetland, and tell them my name. Thankfully my booking, made online over a month ago, was recorded and my friend Simon and I are on the list...

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Linnets

Linnets

I wrote this piece in February, 2023. The original version was published on Mark Avery's website. I have edited it slightly since then, but the majority remains the same.  Mark has also written a blog about Linnets, which can be read here.  The sky is the colour of a Wood Pigeon’s back. The air fizzes with mizzle. After breakfast, I drop my car to our local garage to be fixed, then run the lanes...

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Jack Frost

Jack Frost

There are many things to feel nostalgic for as our world heats up. Near the top of my list is frost.  Frost is magic. Its formation, although easily explained, seems akin to alchemy. Crudely put, when ground temperatures fall below freezing, water vapour in the air condenses into ice crystals. These crystals, which start as hexagonal prisms, can shift and morph into numerous symmetrical shapes,...

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Daffodils for Memory

Daffodils for Memory

And then my heart with pleasure fills, And dances with the daffodils. - William Wordsworth Wild Daffodils, (Narcissus pseudonarcissus) are not as numerous as they once were. Like many of our native plants, they have struggled to compete with agricultural intensification, habitat loss and hybridisation. Where they have hung on, however, they can be locally abundant, forming carpets of buttery...

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The Zodiacal Light

The Zodiacal Light

Last spring, and the one before that, I spent a number of nights on high hills looking west. I could hear Redwings above me, their thin calls raining down as they journeyed back to Scandinavia. I was looking for the zodiacal light, a faint glow created by sunlight reflecting off dust particles in the inner solar system. Scientists think this dust originated on Mars, swept so high during fierce...

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The Door

The Door

Before you go any further I should probably make one thing abundantly clear: after cursing Durdle Door for being a photography mecca I found myself there at the beginning of January 2016. Even though I previously said I would actively avoid it. But I do have a genuine reason, so let me explain. I was heading for Worbarrow Bay. According to the opening times on a website I had looked at the night...

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Durdle Door

Durdle Door

A few years ago, I saw a photograph. It was a good photograph. In fact, if you Google: 'Durdle Door Sunrise' chances are you'll probably see it too. It was taken by a chap called Peter Spencer. In it, a ray of sun is shining through the archway of Durdle Door. Due to the position of the sun, this only happens a few mornings a year, right around the Winter Solstice. Having liked that photograph...

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