After the heavy rain of the last few days it was good to see the sun rise in a clear blue sky this morning, so Elaine and I decided to go for a stroll in the woodlands on the Arlington Court estate.
Located on the edge of Exmoor not far from Barnstaple, the sprawling estate has been owned by theChichester family for over 500 years, although the house has only stood in the grounds since 1823.
Instead of entering the National Trust-run property at the main entrance near the house however, we took the back way in via the gate that leads into the working forestry land on the lower end of the estate, the gateposts topped with the Chichester family emblem, a heron brandishing an eel.
From the gatehouse we made our way along the track that gives a great view over the Yeo river valley to the hills opposite – also owned by Arlington – where we have often spotted the resident herd of deer.
No deer today, but a noticeable change in the trees as autumn colours begin to show themselves.
All along the winding track there is evidence of forestry conservation in progress.
The most vivid autumn colours are provided by the rows of bright orange beech trees, especially when seen against the verdant green of the ferns and pines.
A giant chestnut and ancient oak trees add different shades to the landscape.
And on a smaller scale, the variety of alien looking fungus growing on fallen trunks and tree stumps is extraordinary, new forms and textures everywhere you look.
But the most obvious change in the landscape today was the level of the river and the intensity of the waterfalls that criss-cross the trail, the recent rainfall having turned some of these gently trickling streams into foaming torrents that rush down the steep sides of the valley through the woods.
The low stone bridge at the weir is almost overwhelmed by the height of the water, the arches (which I have walked through in the past) filled almost to the top…
.. and the sparsely wooded plain on the riverbank has the look of a primordial forest.
One of the newly expanded waterfalls which runs under the track after flowing down the rocky slope…
… had become so impressive that I climbed the slope above the track and filmed my walk back downstream.
(You may wish to lower the volume before playing the clip)
The age of this woodland is evident wherever you look, the rugged rocky skeleton sometimes visible just beneath the surface…
.. and some strange organic shapes too.
If you would like to visit Arlington Court and see what else this beautiful estate has to offer, then go to THIS LINK.