Mid winter sun

January is dark and dismal; on rare days the sun shines and the coastline is transformed by a palette of powder blue, dark purples and gravel browns. At Shellness, the sea is calm and the views distant, but the tide is out on the full and the geese, waders and gulls dispersed and quiet.

Wrabness

Wrabness is a small village with a long history and, on a bright day, wide views north across the Stour Estuary to Suffolk. Today, a cold shroud deadens the coast. In the churchyard, a small bell house squats square amongst the headstones; it was constructed as temporary measure after the bell tower toppled off the…

The River Eden

Christmas Day The walk from Penshurst to Hever runs just to the south of the village of Chiddingstone but the afternoon light quickly fades and we turn a mile before we reach the end. The ground is waterlogged and the trees bare; the moon rises early in the cold sky. The redwings and fieldfares feed…

Chalk grasslands cleared and ready for Spring

6th March Fackenden Down is spring cleaned; a herd of red Dexter cattle has been in over winter. This native breed from south west Ireland is often used to manage chalk grasslands, especially to clear invading tor grass. Being small with short legs that give a comical appearance, they tend not to poach the turf….

January in the Clavering Hundred

In the very west of Essex, on the arable fields above the small village of Manuden with its distinctive church spire that appears half buried in the hills, the dawn is quiet, clouded and cold; new red-roofed houses huddle together in the valley. Undaunted, a song thrush sings its distinctive double tap from the edge…

Medway mud

The view from the old quay on Otterham Creek looks north toward the Hoo Peninsula and the heavy industry that edges the east end. The creek empties at low tide leaving a single spine of water between wide mudflats deeply incised by snaking tributaries; teal fly in to forage at the water’s edge and redshank…

Winter woodland

Christmas Eve morning is layered with fog with a heavy dew dripping off the dead leaves. A solitary woodcock lifts from a muddy fallow. The wind is gone and the woodlands at Elsenham are alive with small birds: goldcrests chase through the low branches of a hazel laden with catkins, great tits call like bicycle…

Blackwater dawn

The dawn appears slowly in the still air turning the horizon from deepest blue to dirty magenta, then split by a thin slice of electric orange. The black saltmarsh emerges olive green; the water in the narrow channels and open estuary is lit like smoked glass, catching every reflection.  The sun rises and briefly turns…

Oare Creek

The November sunshine is uncomfortably warm. The air is clear, the light bright and wind dead. The boats that line the narrow creek are a picture, most wrapped up for the winter. Redshanks and egrets forage on the mudflats; house sparrows in the pathside hips and haws along with blackbirds and reed buntings. On the…