Autumn in Teesdale

Oak Teesdale

I promised myself a drive around Teesdale in search of some autumn colour. I packed the car with paints, camera and a flask and headed to some of the less visited and more remote corners of Teesdale. I drove up to Hudeshope Beck, an area once alive with the sound of lead mining. This valley provided little inspiration on a day when my mind was already troubled. The valley was dark and forbidding, over exploited for minerals during the whole of the nineteenth century, I found no reason to stay. The scars on the landscape were far too painful and I quickly drove back the way I had come.

Although the lower reaches of Hudeshope Beck sang with colour, I still felt the need to be away. I’d seen enough. This journey was meant to lift my spirits but my mood was worsening. The prospect of winter is always difficult for me, and I can already sense a shift from autumn to a winter. Hudeshope Beck might prove more favourable on a summers’ day and I apologise if this post offends those who live on the either side of the valley.

I decided to cut my losses and head for home. There was a small mountain of work waiting for me, some of which had instigated this journey in the beginning.  However, I desperately wanted to draw and paint something. This old oak guards the entrance to an old lane leading up to Hunderthwaite. I parked along the lane and made this quick sketch. It’s more a memory against the battle of winter than a post of happy days.



12 Replies to “Autumn in Teesdale”

  1. This oak looks just like the one I look out at every morning in my neighbor’s back yard. Good color, Keith! All day I was seeing oaks. They and the flowering pears seem to be among the few trees with leaves left on the branches around here. It takes half the winter before my neighbor’s tree starts showing bare branches. Maybe an oak is like you, not wanting the winter to descend. I always tell my sister that winter affords us the rest we need to run around the rest of the year. I like cozying up with a good book and hot tea or coffee and hearing the winter winds blow outside my window. Good painting!

    1. Thanks Leslie. These oaks are part of a much older forest, once covering the entire area. Those clinging to roads have survived the centuries. There are some beautiful examples along this tiny lane. You could be right about the oaks being last to lose their leaves. Like the rest of the landscape they watch us humans come and go! Nothing like a cup of tea!

  2. Your writing paints as well as your brush! What a vivid picture your words create of a place darkened by the past and personal mood. It reminds me of all the times I’ve gone for drives, to get out of the house, to get inspiration, on gloomy days when no inspiration could be found. How frustrating! But you stopped and pianted anyways, and it’s beautiful! One thing to look forward to this winter… Your upcoming wintertime Bluebell Wood painting 🙂

    1. Thank you Amber. Sometimes you instinctively know, even before setting off that you’re going to have a bad day. I’m not sure why I ventured up this particular valley, it’s a dark place and a little spooky. The road clings to the side of the valley twisting from one bend to the next. There’s an expectation that something sinister is lurking around the next corner. (probably sheep). Too many gloomy days over here at the moment. Yesterday the rain was torrential. Today a little better. Bluebell Wood-here I come. 🙂 Hope you had a nice holiday.

  3. A very good quick sketch! The composition & handling all look very confident. The beech trees in the mountains inland from me are this colour now, but not the oaks , they’re still green. It’s interesting to read how the trees vary in different places (as in what Leslie said too).
    I know what you mean abnout scars on the landscape from mining too – it can feel quite desolate & violated in some instances,creating a strange atmosphere.

    1. Nature’s on desolation is something I love, particularly here in the North Pennines. Vast horizons of peat and heather. It’s man’s desolation that I find difficult to walk through. Even though the social history is fascinating, the ruins are disturbing to the eye and make for uncomfortable surroundings. Being among the oaks was much more rewarding. Pleased you enjoyed my humble sketch and thank you for replying.

  4. I really like your ink and watercolor drawings. I like what you wrote that this was more of a memory against the battle of winter.

    Maybe come back when it is the winter and draw the oak with its bare branches?

    1. Thank you Carol, Takes a little time for the body and mind adjusting to winter. Like the leaves on the old oak, I’m clinging on to the last few days before I go into hibernation (I wish). Good idea about repainting. I might stop again while I’m producing the second painting of the bluebell wood. Fingers and cold permitting.

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