Angrove over the Summer
Angrove in August is an wonderful blend of moods: many people come for the splendour of its stunning backdrop and even by August you’ll find that the rugged outline of the Cleveland Hills is still partly fringed by the green growth of oak and ash trees. The sun is still high in the sky and the evening light casts a golden warmth across the newly harvested biscuit-coloured fields of crackling rapeseed and wheat stubble.
Yet Nature is plainly on the move here, and the murmurs of late summer softly speak of the coming season. You’ll notice that the freshness of the leaves on the black alder is beginning to darken as they nuzzle and dip into the burbling River Leven’s waters. 2019 has been the summer of the painted lady butterfly, where every moorland, lane and hedgerow has been graced by their fluttering palette of chalk, charcoal and terracotta. If you take a few minutes to wander down our delightful stream paths and field edges, carpeted as they are with wild flowers in abundance, you may catch a glimpse of those butterflies which have not yet slipped away to warmer shores or hibernation. The limping flight of meadow browns and the tantalising spirals of the ringlets are beautiful sights and down by the stream, the fuchsia blooms of the balsam are covered in ragged-winged speckled woods which bask lazily to catch the warmth of the late summer whenever it bursts out. A photographer’s dream!
Take a moment to stand in Angrove’s gently rolling fields, and your eye cannot escape the magnificent skies that track steadily up the margins of the North York Moors. By now, the cloud seems to come in almost tidal banks, first bringing a softening sunlight and then fresher breezes that whiten the willows and send flocks of linnet and goldfinch bobbing and dipping across the tops of the sunflower and wheat meadow, squirting song as they go. The plucky yellowhammers still dot the hedge-tops, but their staccato and squeeze has fallen silent. Sipping a coffee in the late afternoon, you can’t help but notice the chattering squadrons of swallows that wheel about, feeding on the hum of insects. If you stroll south downstream, their cousins, the sand martins, will be your constant companion. As always, they have bred in large numbers and are feeding madly before heading back to the Sahara to escape our winter chill.
Summer is still in control here though: the warm days cling on yet and the border of every field is worth exploring in itself. Grand, sweeping corridors of wild flowers – borage, red clover, lupin, linseed – keep providing countless species of bee with nectar. A scan of the lush rainbow of blooms immediately tells you that Angrove is bucking the trend of the decline of insects and birds that is happening in so many other places. These wonderful uncut meadows and borders also provides fresh cover for the many hares that have lolloped, confused, from their usual hides in the corn, wheat and barley. Partridges too gather there and stutter across the paths in considerable groups and will scatter in panic and then glide away from you across the hedge tops to safety.
The fresh promise of berried and dewy autumn is in the air now. If you pause at dusk and listen through the breathless quiet, our tawny, barn and little owl young are striking out and finding their voice, calling and challenging the older generation in loud excitement, chiselling out new territories and preparing for Nature’s next throw of the dice.
CREDIT: David Fox