One of the upper ponds yesterday afternoon on Hampstead Heath – the sunlit golden swathe of trees on the far side of the lake reflected in the pale cobalt blue of the lake – which in turn reflects the baby blue of the sky. In the foreground, a blackened and gnarled tree stump, a few twigs thrusting out over the lake, seven leaves clinging stubbornly to their stems. You could be in the heart of the country – no sign of civilisation to be seen.
Turn around and look the other way and you see the equally beautiful but more urban ‘boating’ lake.
Once again cobalt blue water reflecting golden trees but also a dense ‘hedge’ of bulrushes at the left hand corner of the lake, fighting off the algae. A long grassy slope runs down to the lake, dotted with oaks, willows and other statuesque ‘parkland’ trees – a path runs round the lake, locals enjoy the sun on benches and wander round the lake, chatting to the ducks and the moorhens.
Also basking in the sun was this huge glowing coppery oak tree still clinging on to virtually all of its leaves….
…while a little further down the hill the black trunks and branches of the chestnut (?) trees were very visible through the much sparser covering of their brilliant egg yolk yellow leaves.
Splendidly elegant, but rather more subdued (the sun had disappeared behind a passing cloud) was the long avenue which leads from the heart of the heath up to Well Walk, past the old Wells Bath house, up Flask Walk and into the heart of old Hampstead.
Down by the lower lakes though, the huge gnarled trunks of the plane trees, all but leafless, striding along the side of the lake are taking no prisoners. They are definitely claiming pride of place in the afternoon sun!
But just lest you might now be thinking that Hampstead is permanently bathed in glorious autumn light – two weeks before it had rained without stop for the five days preceding the cross country meet. The 10k race was the last of the afternoon so the track had taken quite a battering – so the poor runners (of all ages from 18 to 80) were battling through a veritable quagmire. At this point I reckon that gluey, glutinous mud was lapping round their laces – which must have made it feel more like 25k than 10k!
Amazingly enough, two weeks later the grass has almost regrown.