Northumberland National Park committee member, David McDiarmid loves nothing more than to explore the Peace Labyrinth at Walltown Country Park. Throughout all four seasons, you can find David there, exploring the flora and fauna, drawing and taking notes for his blog. Here is his first (backdated) installment from Autumn 2016.
At times it seems that in Autumn the world is breathing in, filling itself with strength, drawing in the warmth, the colour and energy of the fading year. This long breath continues into Winter until, after the slightest pause, the great glorious breathing out of Spring begins with the first Snowdrops. Even now, in the trees around the Labyrinth there are hints of Spring, I saw the raven black of the Ash buds already formed beside shrivelled clumps of this years Ash key sand on the Alders there were old cones and new catkins on the same twigs.
Around the labyrinth the trees are growing, becoming woodland, enfolding and sheltering the labyrinth, gradually turning it into a quiet, hidden place. It is a place where I can be still, just sit and wait to see what happens. When I reached the labyrinth today the first thing I heard was a Tawny Owl, calling from the trees just behind me; that insomniac bird persuaded me to stay and sit on the seat just outside the labyrinth. An hour later what had happened was that I had realised just how much colder it had become, and a Robin had scolded me now and then; apart from the cold and the Robin that hour had shown me nothing.
So, trying hard not to shiver, I walked the labyrinth and watched the trees catch fire as brief gleams of sunshine moved across them.
Overhead small flocks of Redwings and Fieldfares were making for bushes laden with berries…
…and above the crags a family of Crows soared and tumbled. By the time I had walked out of the labyrinth the flask of tea in my car was calling very strongly to me, so I set off for the car park.
On the way through the woodland, Wrens bustled along branches and into roots, a party of Long Tailed Tits followed each other in erratic processions between bushes and the gentle golden hues of Autumn glowed in the low sunlight.
A few days later I was back; the wind was strong and wild, driving sleety rain across the labyrinth, hiding the crags and stripping leaves from the trees. No birds called or flew and all the colours had become grey.
Autumn can be like this too.
To find out more about the Peace Labyrinth, click here.