Amidst an early autumn dominated by rain, frost and fog, the penultimate Wednesday of October dawned dazzlingly bright. The trees across the valley zinged orange beneath the glowing sun. Keen to be amongst them after a bout of ‘flu, we had a few things to attend to first. Predictably it was lunchtime by the time we left the house. We bought pies from the bakers and went up the road past the Fox and Goose, then right at the first turning.
Behind Eaves Mount, the undulating path made our legs ache. But it was worth the pain to reach the spectacular ‘avenue’, glorious this time of year. A carpet of fallen red leaves crunched underfoot, contrasting with yellow and green still clinging onto higher branches. Passing through an iron gate, the lane became dappled in light. Felled trees allowed crops of fungi to explode in the shadows. A bizarre arrangement atop a stump bewildered us; art or accident?
On reaching the final stretch up to Lumb Bank , large cobbles paved the way. We squatted on a moss-clad stone wall near the old stone gatepost.
As we ate our pies, cows in the adjacent field stared in our direction. I hoped they could not escape to attack us. We dusted crumbs off and continued, sneaking through the garden of the big house to avoid an even harder climb and take in panoramic views up the valley. The two Lumb Mill chimneys stood starkly grey amidst a cacophony of colour.
As light faded, air cooled. We headed down towards Lumb Mill and discovered a couple of paths leading behind the second chimney. The first looked decidedly dicey; the second a safer prospect. I later compared my photos to that in ‘Remains of Elmet’ to conclude Fay’s shot would be impossible now.i
Winding down to the site of the long-gone mills, we lingered awhile among the archaeology. Impossibly tiny mushrooms populated my favourite sycamore tree. I wondered if this was another stage of its imminent demise following the blight that afflicted the leaves this year. Nearby, a ladybird navigated round large Ivory caps.
We returned via the fast track, pausing to gather small bright maple leaves. Back home, we felt very tired and achy but glad we had got out for some much-needed fresh air and sunshine.
More photos at: https://1drv.ms/u/s!AjkK19zVvfQti9QSkHgQQ_AhKXL8mw?e=qZIpjp
i. Remains of Elmet; Hughes, Ted (poems) and Godwin, Fay (photographs) (1979) Faber & Faber (1979)