February, sandwiched between winter and the onset of spring, is a month often spent indoors, planning holidays for the warmer days ahead. But there’s also lots to be explored out in the countryside.
From jewelled caves and prehistoric landscapes to bobbing jellyfish and a mighty fortress, we’ve come across some spectacular photography while putting together the February 2019 issue of BBC Countryfile Magazine. Celebrate the month ahead with a few of our favourite images.
Ardmeanach Peninsula, Inner Hebrides
Looking north across Loch Scridain to the towering basalt terraces of the Ardmeanach Peninsula. Encased at the foot of the 170m-high cliffs is the Fossil Tree ©Alamy
On the western coast of the Scottish island of Mull, beneath the brooding volcanic massif of mighty Ben More, lies one of the wildest environments in the British Isles. The Ardmeanach Peninsula is a six-mile stretch of headland known simply as ‘The Wilderness’. It’s a fitting description of this trackless terrain characterised by deserted beaches, sparse coastal undercliffs and stunted trees beneath stark basalt terraces.
Marble Arch Caves, County Fermanagh
Marble Arch Caves, Northern Ireland ©Alamy
The intricate passageways and stalactite-hung caverns of the Marble Arch Caves are just one of the geopark’s many features. Surrounding this subterranean world are drumlins and snaking rivers, upland blanket bog and the imposing 655m-high Cuilcagh Mountain.
Common frog, Norfolk
Common frog (Rana temporaria) and spawn in pond. West Runton, North Norfolk ©Alamy
Did you know? The earliest frogspawn recorded by Nature’s Calendar (which records seasonal events to keep track of climate change) was spotted on 1 November 2004. A mild February is a good month to check the garden pond to see if your local amphibians have been active, especially in the south-west of England.
The Trinnacle, Great Manchester
The Trinnacle is a unique three pronged Gritstone Tor on Saddleworth Moor in the Peak National park ©Getty
All along the Pennines the effect of ice is evident, not least at the hauntingly beautiful serrated edges at Wimberry Stones high above Dove Stone Reservoir. The line of stone edges strikes north as Dove Stone Rocks; splintered cliffs and gullies where ravens and peregrines scavenge and hunt above lakes secluded in the gouge of Greenfield Brook. Here at Raven Stones Brow, spectacular crags challenge climbers, none more so than the unique, three-pronged Trinnacle (pictured), a monolith that wouldn’t seem out of place in the iconic Monument Valley in Utah, USA.
Dinosaur Footprints, Isle of Skye
Dinosaur footprints, Isle of Skye ©Alamy
The spectacular mountain scenery of Skye is associated with fossil-free basalt but, around
its coast there are tidal platforms of sedimentary rock where traces of the island’s Jurassic past have been found. At Staffin (pictured), Duntulm and Brother’s Point on the island’s north-eastern coast, clear imprints left by dinosaurs some 170 million years ago are revealed by the retreating tide.
Golitha Falls, Cornwall
Golitha Falls, Cornwall ©Justin Foulkes
We took at look at how to improve your health and fitness, while making new friends, by joining a walking group. Our guide on walking groups looks at the many benefits of walking with others and how to find and join a walking group in your local area.
St Mawes Castle, Cornwall
St Mawes Castel, Cornwall ©Getty
Like the town of Falmouth opposite, St Mawes is situated on the entrance of the Carrick Roads – historically and to this day an important shipping lane, and the third deepest natural harbour in the world. Henry VIII was keen to defend the Carrick Roads against the French and Spanish, and built two elaborate coastal forts – at St Mawes and Falmouth – to guard against invasion. The castle at St Mawes was developed less over the intervening centuries and so still retains many of its original features. It’s a fascinating place to visit, in sunshine or showers, and the views across the water, along the coastline and out into Falmouth Bay are breathtaking.
Roseland Peninsula, Cornwall
Carrick Roads, Roseland Peninsula, Cornwall ©Getty
A parcel of Cornish land, little more than a dozen miles long and only a few miles wide, lies remote between broad, languorous rivers and the sea. On the county’s south coast and often missed by holiday traffic heading west to Truro and beyond, the Roseland Peninsula is probably Cornwall’s best-kept secret.
Bournemouth Pier, Bournemouth
Bournemouth Pier at sunset ©Alamy
Bournemouth’s iconic pier has had many makeovers since it was first built in 1856, yo-yoing in length like the ebb and flow of the tide that surrounds it. Storm damage, corrosion and the threat of German invasion in World War Two were responsible for the half-dozen major structural revisions. Today, stretching out more than 300m into the English Channel, the pier is the best place in this seaside town to watch the winter sun sink, but wrap up warm and don’t forget your hat and gloves.
Barrel jellyfish, Cornwall
Barrel Jellyfish at Kynance Cove in Cornwall ©AlamyNot only are there seals, basking sharks, porpoises and dolphins in Cornwall, but also Portuguese man-of-war and barrel jellyfish (pictured). Barrel jellyfish can weigh up to 35kg and may look alarming but, thankfully, the its sting is harmless to humans.