Gwen Potter is the National Trust ranger for Ceredigion in Wales. Looking after coast and countryside, Gwen sees autumn colour across a range of landscapes; here she describes why autumn is her favourite time of year for exploring the landscape.
Autumn for me bursts with colour and life. It’s the best time of year to see and feel nature and wildlife at its most spectacular, but it’s also a time of change and reflection.
Walking during the autumn is like nothing else. Wood smoke mixes with the leaves to create that beautiful, familiar smell. It’s cooler than summer, but not cold. You could get a misty morning with those damp smells or a clear, crisp day when everything is brighter.
In the hills and heaths, the heather is bright purple. The paths are full of blackberries, damsons and sloes.
In the woods, the trees start to turn every shade of red and yellow imaginable. Leaves can be caught as they fall (number 33 on 50 Things to do before you’re 11 ¾!) and every leaf tells a story – the caterpillar munching it, the micro-moth burrowing in it, the lichen on the stalk or shrivelled gall from a solitary wasp.
Fungi are everywhere: purples, reds, yellows and greens appear everywhere in fantastical cones, trumpets, plates and spikes.
As for Autumn animals, along the Welsh coastline you can see cute seal pups from a distance in our coves.
In the fields flocks of redwing and brambling will start to appear. Starlings wheel in huge flocks near rooftops before roosting, black grouse dance on our hills. Lapwing or curlew flocks also come down off the hills and on the east coast you may be lucky enough to spot punky-haired waxwing flocks chasing gluts of berries.
A windy day shows off nature’s awesome power, while a wet day means wrapping up and splashing in puddles with the dog.