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Peaks in Autumn with Verity Milligan

11th October 2023

The Peak District is one of the most photogenic places in the UK, especially during autumn. I’m a particular fan of the Peaks during the month of November, especially at the beginning when the silver birch have really come into colour and the rest of the woodland begins to turn. This is complimented by the rust brown colours of the gone-over bracken and the heathland that is so abundant, especially in the dark peaks, contrasting with the granite colour of the rocky edges scattered around the landscape. 

Here are a few of my favourite places to visit during this time of the year:

Peaks in Autumn with Verity Milligan

Padley Gorge

It’s a favourite for a reason, probably one of the best known places in the Peaks, whatever the season. However, in autumn it comes to life in a special way, with the rich colours of the trees complimenting the moss covered boulders populating the gorge. The foliage from above drops into the water and makes for some interesting abstracts in addition to the wider landscapes that take in all the colour as well as the flowing water. It’s a place that works for long exposures, either in the context of the whole gorge or through little vignettes. It’s also a place that has a wide variety of woodland. There are plenty of twisted and intriguing trees dotted throughout the steep sides of the gorge, enough to hold the interest of any photographer, whatever the weather.

Peaks in Autumn with Verity Milligan

Surprise View

This is also one of my favourite photography locations in the Peaks, and it’s close to Padley Gorge. Surprise View is a catch all title for a copse of silver birch and heathland that leads to Millstone Edge, overlooking the Hope Valley. It’s one of those places that tends to be a mist magnet (if conditions are right) and there are plentiful compositions using the foregrounds of the edge. In the distance the Great Ridge can be seen, housing Mam Tor and Rushup Edge. A great place to watch passing rain showers traverse the landscape. As with many places in this part of the Peaks, you’re liable to find old millstones abandoned and they can make for some interesting compositions. 

Peaks in Autumn with Verity Milligan

Bolehill Quarry

Situated below Surprise View is the remnant of an old quarry where silver birch have been planted and left to grow. It’s a magical place in autumn and has a different feel to both Padley Gorge and Surprise View. The quarry is carpeted in grass and the there is a uniformity to the trees. Scattered throughout are remnants of the old quarry which makes for some interesting compositions and helps to ensure an eerie atmosphere, especially if there is fog or mist helping to separate the birch in the foreground from the woodland behind. If you’re lucky, you might also spot some Fly Agaric dotted amongst the silver birch.

These are just three of the different locations we visit on my Peak District in Autumn workshop with runs from Nov 8th - 11th 2023. There are plenty of other locations that we visit, but you’ve got to hold back something a as a surprise. By Verity Milligan.

Light and Land

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