In a bid to breathe some fresh air and stretch our legs we decided to go for a walk this afternoon. It's been dark, grey and damp for the last couple of days, and I am missing the sun. However the weather did not stand in our way, and we headed for a cycle path which is part of the Sustrans network called the Collier's Way. It's in the heart of the Somerset coalfields and follows old railway lines. The mines are no longer active, but the landscape is marked by the area's mining history. The light levels stayed very low all afternoon, and the views seemed bleached of colour. I enjoyed looking at the contours of the hills and valleys.
There was colour to be found if you looked for it. These vermillion rose hips really made an impact against their green background.
And there were masses of these berries on one bush.
These wonderful deep red stems came into their own on a day like this.
All along the path were ivy berries in shades of green
and black, dramatic and dark.
The area's rock is carboniferous and rich in fossils, and this iron waymarker sign had been cast with a fascinating relief of fossils and prehistoric sea creatures on it.
Winter enables trees and plants' structures to be seen and appreciated more clearly. This bare tree looked very sculptural as we passed by.
And this umbellifer was tightly closed like a little bird cage.
From a distance old man's beard, or wild clematis, looks very fluffy, but close up it's easy to see its seed heads. The seeds are all joined together with their long tails swirling behind them.
Teasels are frequently used as a design these days on prints and fabrics, and it's easy to see why, with their architectural shapes. There were several pairs of goldfinches nearby feeding on these teasels (I also saw a pair of tiny wrens, but was unable to produce any decent photos of them - I'm not a great bird photographer, alas).
Sheep grazed peacefully in the fields around us.
These are creatures which I did find it fairly easy to photograph. They looked at us warily as we passed.
They all had a bright yellow dye on their fleeces, which was very eye-catching.
As we walked along the path there were large rocks with enamel signs on them bearing the names of old apple varieties: Laxton Superb, Egremont Russet, Ashmead's Kernel, Tydeman's Late Orange. Apple trees have been planted along the cycleway to mark the depletion of Somerset apple and pear orchards, as well as representing self-seeded trees, grown from apple cores thrown out of the windows of bygone steam trains.
Our walk was nearing its end now and we passed an old bright red Royal Mail post box set into the wall of a terrace of cottages. I have a fondness for these, and am always pleased to see one that's still in use.
The light was failing now, and it was time to go home before the gloom turned into darkness.
Despite the cold, and dreary weather it was good to blow the cobwebs away on our first walk of the new year. Here's to many more!