Autumn, Carstramon Wood
As the season changes it brings a pause for reflection; time to re-evaluate and consider which directions to take next. For every decision made there are the other choices which are put aside, sometimes it is worth stopping and taking extra time to consider before moving forward.
Outside the colours shift day by day, from an almost imperceptible yellowing to bonfire oranges and rusty browns. The veteran ashes on the heath are the first to shed their leaves, revealing their magnificent structures weeks before their younger descendants. Large woodland beeches begin their spectacular colour transformation and by the coast the salt marsh begins to yellow and the moor tops fade to glorious rusty shades.
By mid October the Colvend coast is definitely looking Autumnal and I made a trip out for some sketching and research, this time to a fascinating section of beach between between Powillimount and Arbigland. Situated between Southerness and Carsethorn it is a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), part of the Upper Solway Flats and Marshes and the Nith Estuary National Scenic Area. The shoreline weaves around coves and limestone formations, taking you up and down through old sessile oak woodland and revealing wonderful rock formations which are accessible at low tide.
It would be fascinating to have a tour from a geologist, but I did manage to find some specific information for the location from the British Geological Survey [http://earthwise.bgs.ac.uk/index.php/Southerness_To_Borron_Point_-_an_excursion] and the Scottish Geology Trust [https://www.scottishgeology.com/best-places/southerness/]. There are spectacular things to be seen here; sandstone, mudstone and limestone formed during the carboniferous period some 340 million years ago, once sediment deposited on the shallow sea bed then fractured, folded and eroded; liquefaction structures consisting of domes and volcanoes and fossils of corals and gastropods amongst many others. Some look like layers of material, or piped mud settled and flattened with dark folds, others resemble man-made geometric pavement blocks and long half-sunk roadways. I am particularly drawn to the rockpools with nostalgic 1960’s colours and patterns, smooth matt chestnut-brown rocks with rounded hollows, rings of yellow lichen and dark brown splashy dots contrast with the algae-green shining water.
Towards the end of the month, high winds have blown a lot of last weeks leaves off from the Laurieston pass, but in the valleys the autumnal display is still in full magnificence. Carstramon Wood glows in waves of sunlight shed between clouds, the warm colours accentuated against a cobalt blue sky.
As we move to November, after the past few days storms, there are a surprising amount of leaves left in sheltered woodland. Inland from Mersehead the larches are spectacular, boldly yellow and amber along spreading branches and beneath, tiny saplings rise from the ground like flames from the soft bed of needles.