Autumn Sunset at Guisecliff Tarn

Guisecliff Tarn a rare and beautiful example of a woodland tarn, is an extremely special and magnificent location and one which I love visiting, having been fortunate enough to have lived near this spot for three years, immersing myself with nature and escaping from the cacophony of sounds accosting me on a daily basis.   

It’s one of those interesting, relatively hard to find, hidden gems, sitting above the small village of Glasshouses, Nidderdale, which many unacquainted walker has hiked past on the lower footpaths.  Guisecliff Tarn, hidden by trees and a jumble of gritstone rocks, together with an impressive gritstone arch rising from the hollow floor of the woods, is a very attractive setting bringing with it atmospheric lighting, producing different results with its seasonal colour changes.

To reach the tarn it is a short, uphill ascent (224m) and not one for the fainthearted as it can be quite slippy and boggy at times.  There are twists and turns, exposed moss covered tree roots protruding from the hollow ground born out of hundreds of tangled neighbouring trees with their extremely low and twisting, crooked branches, prickly holly trees bearing their shining, spiny, dark evergreen leaves, the thin, towering, white trunks and wispy branches of Silver Birch trees and gnarled, sturdy trunked, ancient Oak trees. 

What a reward awaited me at the tarn, that day, after a storm, on 31 October.  The autumnal colours at this magical tarn took my breath away, along with the thick, damp, dark green moss thriving in the deeply grooved tree bark and crevices of the huge gritstone rock formations.  As I walked I could hear the echo of hollow ground underfoot and the crack of tree branches still breaking and snapping off the trees. 

The fall splendour had brought with it striking leaves of golden yellow, orange and russet swaying, gently dancing, in the breeze as they took their last steps of their lives before falling from their makers, into the tarn and onto the wood floor. The fallen oak and silver birch leaves formed a huge blanket around the tarn of amber, auburn and golds providing nature with her winter habitat.

The tarn glowed, basking in the low winter sun and when the wind finally subsided there was a unique stillness about the place and the shadows of the leaves, branches, rocks and clouds formed over the surface of the water. There was calmness just prior to the sunset at 16:05, which lasted only just long enough for me to capture the reflections in the water. This is a 2 image Panorama Stitch using Aperture Priority Mode, 15 mm, f/11, ISO 100, 0.4 secs.

Mark Pollitt

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