By September, hints of the autumn ahead begin to show themselves in the British countryside – heather coats the hills, migrant birds are on the wing and forests begin to turn from deep green to russet and brown.
From the Lake District’s fells and waters to a wild Sussex farm, we’ve come across some amazing photography while putting together the September 2019 issue of BBC Countryfile Magazine. Celebrate the month with a few of our favourite September images.
Bossington Hill, Somerset
Common heather, bell heather and western gorse growing on Bossington Hill in late summer, with a view towards Dunkery Beacon ©Alamy
Dunkery Beacon is the highest point on Exmoor and perhaps seen at its best from Wilmersham Common or Bossington Hill (pictured) on a summer’s evening, when the last of the sun illuminates its flanks. The swathe of high moorland before you is a kaleidoscope of greens, browns and golds, with Exmoor ponies and red deer decorating the landscape.
White stork (Ciconia ciconia) wading in a pond within a large outdoor enclosure ahead of release, Knepp estate, Sussex, UK, April 2019.
This dramatic, beautiful wading bird could become a common sight in Knepp and the rest of West Sussex over the next decade. Conservationists hope local communities will volunteer village-hall roofs and other buildings as nest sites.
Pillar Rock, Cumbria
Pillar Rock, Ennerdale, Cumbria ©Jake Graham
Once blighted by thick Sitka spruce plantations, Ennerdale is now internationally recognised for its diversity, from the upland birch-oak woodlands and montane heaths of Steeple and Pillar to the grasslands and aquatic locales of the valley floor. More than 100 species of bird can be found here, including goldcrests, greenfinches, tree pipits and snipe, alongside butterflies, roe deer, red squirrels and Arctic charr.
Barn Owl in flight ©Alamy
Knepp’s (Sussex) determination to let wildlife come back under natural processes is slightly compromised when it comes to barn owls: nestboxes have been put up for them throughout the estate. Rough field margins provide ample vole and mouse prey for these silent hunters.
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Cotton grass ©Jake Graham
Common cotton grass grows on boggy moors and heaths. With its fluffy white head, it’s easy to see how this summer-seeding plant got its name, but cotton grass is actually not a grass at all, rather a member of the sedge family.
Eildon Hills, Scottish Borders
The Eildon Hills in the Scottish Borders was once a lookout point for Iron Age people and Romans ©Alamy
Scottish Borders delicacy: pick up a a fruity Selkirk bannock, local chutneys and jams from the Country Kitchen Deli in the handsome abbey town of Melrose (countrykitchendeli.co.uk) and head up the Eildon slopes. With views across to the River Tweed and the border hills, the summits offer ideal picnic spots.
Penberth Cove, Cornwall
Penberth Cove, Cornwall ©Alamy
As the nation’s children return to school and their parents to work, the holiday season draws to a close. Busy resorts and beaches suddenly assume a serenity not felt since May. At Penberth Cove in Cornwall, which still retains a small fishing fleet, it’s a chance to sit and watch the local fishermen unload their catch – now crabs and lobsters, though once it was a key pilchard fishery.
Whiteoak Moss, Cumbria
Hikers on Whiteoak Moss, Lake District ©Jake Graham
Hikers on a three-day hike through the Lake District. Multi-day walking is often associated with long, hard days in the hills, broken with wet and windy nights in the tent. But long-distance hikes don’t need to be as arduous as this – one trick is to incorporate walkers’ hostels into your journey.
Hostel walking is the practice of hiking from one hostel to the next, usually through rural areas. Affordable and comfortable, hostels soften the hardships of the path – the heavy camping gear, the uncomfortable packs and the need to cook your own food.
Cat Bells, Cumbria
The famous Cat Bells fell in the English Lake District, seven hikers descend the mountain with a stunning backdrop of a storm ©Getty
As evening descends, walkers hasten off the miniature mountain of Cat Bells near Keswick in the Lake District, pursued by storm clouds and lightning. An open hill is not the place to be when lightning forks from the sky. Cat Bells may take its name from local dialect ‘cat’s bields’, which means wild cat’s shelter. “Its popularity is well deserved,” said famous fell-walker Alfred Wainwright of the peak. “Its shapely topknot attracts the eye, offering a steep but obviously simple scramble.”