Month in pictures – August in the countryside

From sandy bays to spectacular sunsets, here is a selection of the month's best photos from the UK countryside.

Ullswater, Lake District

August marks the height of the school holidays. It’s a month for visiting the beach and for walking slowly through wildflower meadows.

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From sandy bays and brilliant butterflies, to colourful clouds and buzzing bees, we’ve come across some amazing photography while putting together the August 2019 issue of BBC Countryfile Magazine. Celebrate the month with a few of our favourite August images.

From sandy bays to spectacular sunsets, here is a selection of the month’s best photos from the UK countryside.

Castle Howard, Yorkshire

Castle Howard, Yorkshire
View from the South Lake at Castle Howard ©Alamy

This year, BBC Countryfile Live is double the fun. As well as the show making its fourth  appearance at Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire (1–4 August), Britain’s biggest celebration of the countryside visits Castle Howard in Yorkshire (pictured) for the first time (15–18 August). Meet the presenters and explore the best of rural Britain, from food and crafts to farming and music. Come and say hello to all of us at BBC Countryfile Magazine too at Blenheim (stand H03) and Castle Howard (stand G08). For more information and tickets, go to countryfilelive.com. See you there!

The Common blue butterfly, Polyommatus icarus

Cinnabar moth caterpillar

Cinnabar moth caterpillars
Cinnabar moth caterpillars feed on ragwort ©Alamy

Ragwort is one of the most divisive plants in the countryside. It contains chemicals that are toxic to livestock and it has been blamed for many deaths of horses and other animals. Yet conservationists say the danger is overstated and that it’s a native wildflower vital for pollinating insects. Learn more with our guide to Britain’s moths.

Mackerel Sky clouds

Mackerel Sky clouds over Carmarthen Bay, Carmarthenshire Wales
Mackerel Sky clouds over Carmarthen Bay, Carmarthenshire Wales ©Alamy

There are two types of mackerel sky, filled with characteristic ‘fish-scale’ cloudlets, and each portends its own change in the weather. An altocumulus mackerel sky features thicker cloudlets, often arranged in rows running perpendicular to the wind; this indicates an improvement in the weather. A cirrocumulus mackerel sky is made up of wispier, patchier cloudlets, which herald the bad weather of an approaching front.

Circumzenithal arc clouds

Circumzenithal arc clouds
Circumzenithal arc clouds ©Getty

Also known as a cloud smile or an upside-down rainbow, the circumzenithal arc is an optical phenomenon caused by the refraction of light through ice crystals present in thin cirriform clouds. Because ice crystals refract sunlight more effectively than water droplets, the colours of a cloud smile are often brighter and more intense than those of a rainbow, although the view of a cloud smile is often blocked by low clouds.  

Crossbill

Crossbill, Loxia curvirostra
Crossbill, Loxia curvirostra ©Getty

This stocky finch has a large head and crossed bill, used to remove seeds from conifer trees, such as those that surround Loch Maree. Head to Loch Maree for a chance to spot this bullish-looking bird.

Ullswater

Ullswater, Lake District
A view to Ullswater Lake, Cumbria ©Getty

Famous fell-walker Alfred Wainwright called this south-shore walk – accessible by boot or boat only – “the most beautiful and rewarding in Lakeland”. The water stretches out for 14.5km, while to the south sits the rising skyline of the Helvellyn Range. Catch a boat across one of the lake and return on a 6.6-mile-long shoreline path.

Mawddach Estuary

Mawddach Estuary, Wales
Mawddach Estuary in Snowdonia National Park, Gwynedd ©Alamy

The sinuous Mawddach Estuary shivering through sand between Fairbourne and Barmouth. Enjoy a grandiloquent 5.5km hike through woodland and along hillsides, with spectacular views over the estuary.

Loe Pool

The Loe, Cornwall
Loe Bar and Loe Pool, the largest natural body of fresh water in Cornwall ©Getty

Cornwall’s largest natural lake runs deep with history and legend, but it’s the diversity of the trails that trace the banks of The Loe and the richness of its wildlife that make it such a special place. Discover the lake on foot with a 9.6km (6-mile) walk from Penrose Estate.

Osprey

Osprey
Osprey ©Getty
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The horseshoe-shaped Rutland Water midway between Leicester and Peterborough is a birder’s idyll and is a great place to spot ospreys, present in the spring and summer – explore the lake on foot or bike.