Autumn at the Lynchcombe nature reserve on the southern slopes of the Mendip Hills. With leaves turning gold, deep shadows, morning mists, and brightly coloured fungi in the fields – autumn is a perfect time to get out for a walk in the countryside.
High up on the Mendip Hills waiting for the sun to rise. The stars are still looking down on a thin layer of mist covering the Somerset Levels. In the local villages the home lights are being turned on.
Earlier in the year the dawn sun was hidden behind a ridge of hills, now it can just be seen raising over the distant horizon.
Soon the sun casts its golden light across the Deerleap field reaching the old sycamores at the top of Lynchcombe.
The start of another cold, crisp but clear autumn day.
Cattle graze the neighbouring fields as long shadows reach down into the wooded combe below.
Along the southern ridge of the Mendips there are stunning views across the Somerset Levels towards the iconic Glastonbury Tor.
Sheep graze the fields, this keeps the grass short allowing flowering plants to flourish next spring and summer.
There is usually at least one sheep watching you!
Running down the centre of the reserve is the combe. When I was growing I was lead to believe a combe was a steep-sided wooded valley. The internet defines it as:
Combe: a short valley or hollow on a hillside or coastline, especially in southern England .. or, a dry valley in a limestone or chalk escarpment.
Well: it is a short valley; it is on a hillside in southern England; it sits on limestone; and apart from some water below the Ramspit swallet after heavy rain it is usually dry. So whatever definition you choose it is a combe. Now we just need to agree on the number of oh’s.
What everyone wants during autumn are golden leaves. The reserve has lots of hazel, a few oaks and still some ash trees.
Leaf litter covers the sides of the combe.
A post from a gate long since gone looks like an ancient standing stone.
There are some huge fairy rings on the reserve.
The reserve is a great place for seek out wax cap fungi. They grow on ancient grassland, as that disappears many wax cap species becoming rare. So I’m very pleased to see lots of them growing on Lynchcombe.
They come in a range of bright colours. The white ones are probably the most common on the reserve – or at least the easiest to spot.
I recently discovered that an iphone is perfect for getting down low and taking close-up pictures of small toadstools.
I know very little about fungi, so I hope that these have been identified correctly.
Where scrub has been recently cleared the ground is covered in bright green moss. Though the moss are hundreds of small black toadstools. I have no idea what they are but the look great.
The long shadows now run across the fields in the opposite direction.
Towards the top of the reserve, the land has been shaped into medieval strip lynchets.
Lynchet: a ridge or ledge formed along the downhill side of a plot by ploughing in ancient times
These fields were part of the farm site on the neighbouring Deerleap land. This landscape is protected as a Scheduled Monument. The sheep stop it being overgrown with scrub.
The view of Glastonbury Tor keeps changing.
At this time of year the sun sets down the length of the central combe.
Time to get you smart phone out and check on the direction of the setting sun.
Another beautiful sunset over Somerset.