I really love this avenue of beech trees. They are really just an overgrown hedge, but the light seems to hit the trunks in so many interesting ways.
Possibly a zoom lens - or at least the 55mm - would have done a better job of catching the light on the distant Tamar, but I like the shape of the gorse bushes. (The three distant and beautiful towers you can just see between the river and the sea are council towerblocks which are most unpoetic when viewed more closely.)
View over Hingston Down under bare beech-twigs, with Dartmoor lurking mistily in the distance.
Then today I walked down to the Tamar with the 55mm lens. This path used to be very shaded, but most of the bigger trees have now been felled by the chap who lives in the house on the left : apparently the wood will save him almost £2000 in oil costs over the winter. The woodland is/was not old - this path was a road down to the big mineworkings in the valley, and the trees are presumably therefore no more than 80-90 years old: some of them are growing in old buildings. I think the stone banks are older though. The way was tarmacked at one point, but it's so steep the tarmac didn't last, and it's not a road any more. But you can still see lumps of it under the leaves. Officially this is a footpath, but not many people use it because it doesn't really go anywhere and it's so steep.
Further down it's even steeper and some helpful public body has concreted it all and put in drains. The trees seem to disapprove of this innovation and are doing their level best to take it back to soil ASAP.
A road! A road! I met three large offroad vehicles on this lane a month or so back, when the trees had really got autumn going with the leaves, and they were struggling. The lightest one got to the top, and then its passengers had to get out and push the two larger things up the slope against the tide of slippery leaves. That sign at the top says 'unsuitable for motors' but it doesn't mean the lane. It means the footpath it leads to...
Further down the valley we found more council improvements : some twisted chestnut fencing, designed, I think, to prevent mountain bikers riding over the mining spoilheaps. It wasn't very effective at this task : they always used to just go round or over. More effective has been the recent setting-up of official mountain biking courses over some of the other spoilheaps on the other side of the valley. Nowadays, even the bikers don't come up this path. I almost never see anyone here.
The ghost of a mine, lurking in the woods that have grown up over them, investigated by a curious lurcher and a coonhound.
The Cornish side of the river is in the shade of the valley side, but look! Devon is sunlit and inviting! Sadly we cannot go there as the nearest bridge is a mile downstream and the river is full. We will have to skulk, Mewlip-like, along the shady bank.
At this point there was an exciting diversion, as Darwin Coonhound found a scent and set off baying excitedly in pursuit. I was fiddling with my camera, and was a little slow getting after him, which led to me having to sprint at (my) top speed along the wooded riverbank in pursuit of my foster coonhound, occasionally being tripped up by excited sighthounds who kept coming back to wonder in obvious amusement at how slowly and badly I run.
When I had apprehended the eager hunter, I put him on the lead. But he was still VERY excited, and continued to bay loudly and flollop about in the manner of a dog keen to be after the quarry.
I had come to the river to take photos, so I decided to loop his lead on a tree while I did so. I took a photo of the weir. In the summer you can walk along this right into the middle of the river.
However, the 'loop the coonhound on a tree' approach was not at all popular with the troops. Darwin continued to bay like the Hound of the Baskervilles, causing the empty woods to echo embarrassingly. And Az concluded that I had either forgotten Darwin, or was planning to abandon him like a babe in the woods, and tried desperately to herd me back towards him.
I soon gave in and went back to get him (I was only about 20 feet away and in plain sight!) Az was ecstatic. He leapt about and playbowed at Darwin, snuggled his neck and showered him in lurchery kisses. It was all quite touching, if a little sad to realise that seven years after Az was abandoned, he still doesn't really trust me not to abandon a dog tied to a tree...
The bare side of a spoilheap. Straggling trees grow on the spoilheaps and there is heather on the top, but there are always parts that nothing will grow on. As they say: arsenic is forever. I'm assuming that there isn't *that* much arsenic, what with the river that is the main water supply for Plymouth flowing right past, but the streams that flow into the Tamar here are horribly Mordor-ish. I don't let the dogs drink from them.
We passed yet another mine on the way back. Someone is living in this one, though I don't think they use the chimney.