Month in pictures – November in the countryside

A selection of the month's best photos from around the UK countryside in November

Addington Hills park in Croydon

For much of the UK, November represents the height of autumn. The stag rut is in full flow, forests sing with seasonal colour and fires burn in cosy country pubs. It’s also a month of mystery; a time when strange creatures – witches, monsters and fairy folk – haunt our woodlands, coasts and hills.

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We’ve come across some spectacular photography while putting together the November issue of BBC Countryfile Magazine, from Bonfire Night events and unusual natural spectacles to Enid Blyton and the eerie history of Scapa FlowHere are a few of our favourite images to celebrate the month ahead.

1

Stirling, Stirlingshire

Stirling, Scotland
The Wallace Monument, Scotland ©Drew Buckley

You’d be forgiven for thinking this was a still from The Lord of the Rings film set: the Wallace Monument rising in low autumn light from the volcanic outcrop of Abbey Craig just north of Stirling. Built in the 1860s in Victorian Gothic style, it commemorates William Wallace’s victory over the English at Stirling Bridge in 1297. From Abbey Craig, Wallace was able to watch his enemies slowly cross the bridge, and so was able to time his attack when “as many of the enemy had come over as they believed [they] could overcome”. Some 5,000 English troops were trapped and slaughtered.

Stirling Castle  Stirling  Scotland
2

Tarr Barrels of Ottery St Mary, East Devon

Tarr Barrels of Ottery St Mary
Tarr Barrels of Ottery St Mary ©Philip Hartley

Ignite a wooden barrel soaked in tar, hoist it upon your shoulders and run through the streets of a small town in East Devon; for Ottery locals, the rules of this bonfire-night tradition are simple, but it’s a brave man or woman who takes part. This unusual custom began 400 years ago after the gunpowder plot of 1605 and continues to draw crowds today; 4–5 November.

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3

Eildon Hills, Scottish Borders

Eildon Hills, Scottish Borders
Eildon Hills, Scottish Borders ©Alamy

Visit the Eildon Hills in southern Scotland, a landscape famed for its distinctive peaks and mysterious folklore.

4

Cadbury Castle view, Somerset

Cadbury Castle, Somerset
Cadbury Castle, Somerset ©Alamy

Summit Cadbury Castle hill fort on a brisk November morning and you may be fortunate enough to see the Somerset countryside shrouded in a thick mist. You’re most likely to see this magical display in autumn when long, cool nights increase the relative humidity of the air.

5

Brocken Spectre, Mountains of Mourne, County Down

Brocken Spectre in the Mountains of Mourne
Brocken Spectre in the Mountains of Mourne ©Alamy

The Mourne Mountains are deeply ethereal, where cloud shifts and pulses around fractured peaks and light paints patterns in the sky. One display sometimes seen is the Brocken spectre, the enlarged shadow of an object or person cast upon cloud within a spectrum of light. 

The Mourne Wall and the peak of Slieve Binnian in the Mourne Mountains in Northern Ireland on a sunny day.

6

Scapa Flow, Orkney

Shipwreck, Scapa Flow, Orkney
Shipwreck at Scapa Flow, Orkney ©Alamy

During the First World War, blockships were sunk at strategic entrances to Scapa Flow in Orkney to deter enemy ships and as anti-submarine defences. Some wrecks still jut above the water, as desolate reminders of conflict. Eleven of the 74 ships scuttled in the Flow in 1919 still lie here, providing a haven for marine creatures, including crabs and urchins as well as fish, such as pollock and satire.

7

Etta Lemon, founder of the RSPB

Victorian fashion, stuffed bird hats
Victorian fashion, stuffed bird hats

Disgusted with the Victorian fashion of wearing feathers and stuffed birds in hats, campaigner Etta Lemon founded the RSPB. Here, the well-off display their plumage – the more exotic the better.

8

Duddo Five Stones, Northumberland

Duddo Four Stones, a prehistoric stone circle on a hilltop in Northumberland
Duddo Four Stones, a prehistoric stone circle on a hilltop in Northumberland ©Getty

Curiously crinkled sandstones sit on the skyline of a small hill, with sweeping views across to the Cheviot Hills in the south and the Lammermuir Hills to the north.

9

Kent’s Cavern, Devon

Kent's Cavern, Devon
Kent’s Cavern, Devon ©Alamy

There are more than 40 accessible caves in Devon, including Kents Cavern in Torquay. Drop deep beneath the town into the Labyrinth and the Bears Den, and walk among 400-million-year-old rocks decked with spectacular stalagmites and stalactites. 

10

Addington Hills, London

Addington Hills park in Croydon
Addington Hills park in Croydon ©Stuart Gleave

Each tree species has its own autumnal colour palette, as this gorgeous aerial photograph of the trees in Addington Hills park in Croydon reveals. Up until recently, such a shot would be very tricky to take, but the advent of drones with excellent cameras has opened up a whole new world of landscape photography. Photographer Stuart Gleave told us: “My main concern was getting the drone into the air and back again without one of the many local dogs rushing over to investigate.”

11

Chipping Camden, Gloucestershire

Chipping Campden in autumn
View over Chipping Campden in autumn, Chipping Campden, Cotswolds ©Picfair

Autumn is the perfect time to roam the leafy valleys and honey-coloured stone villages of the Cotswold Hills. Here, the vista over Chipping Campden is studded with rich flashes of autumn colour – amber, copper and rust.

12

Photo of the Day

This is one of our favourite reader images from October. Share your best countryside photos for the chance to feature as our ‘Photo of the Day’.

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Simply email photos@countryfile.com or post on our social media channels using #photooftheday