At this time of year Bakewell and the surrounding landscape come alive with vivid colour as the local trees change to Autumn livery. The gentle rain of golden leaves is a glorious sight in the bright shafts of Autumn sunlight. All the corners of the town are bathed in colour, as alleys, footpaths and roadways gather the rich crop of leaves. These colours are due to leaf pigments called carotenoids that usually help the trees to capture the sunlight to aid growth. As the leaves die these pigments become visible in the bright spectrum of colour so characteristic of the season. The crunch, crunch underfoot and earthy smells are all part of the change, of the same rich feast for the senses!
This time used to mark the beginning of the Celtic year, celebrated in the important festival of Samhain - a time of the coming of the dark, celebrated in great bonfires or 'bone-fires' when the inedible parts of carcasses of cattle, that could not be over wintered, would be burnt. The tree trail for Autumn takes you round some of the tree characters in the town and then on to the edge of town so that you can look back and enjoy the colourful setting of Bakewell in the bright Autumn landscape.
Follow the Country Code
At the Information Centre, two evergreen Bradford pears grace this space - trees that are hardy from Atlanta to Montreal. Proceed to Bakewell bridge, noticing the lofty horse chestnut by the Castle, once climbed by Sir Jack Longland the famous mountaineer in his slippers, to save it from felling. He lived in the house opposite.
Over the bridge you see the vivid colour of the big beech tree - all around the town are mature beeches in orange-golden livery. As you walk up Station Road, views open to the right, take time to look down to the larch tree (by the arch!) and beyond to the Recreation ground and its golden lime trees. Further on, there are views to a mature beech tree and beyond to Manners Woods, a rich tapestry of autumn colour. At the top of Station Road, look back across to the distant views of Stanton Moor and the rich shades developing.
Go across the station car park to join the trail - note the crop of berries on the rowan tree and the striking brightness of the dogwoods with their coloured twigs. Turn right onto the trail at the station and as the view opens to Manners Woods on the left, look for graceful poplars on the right, enjoy the bird song. By the sound of running water are white birch trunks with amazing 'eye' patterns and on the other side of the track see the elderly pendulous birch tree. Reaching the viewpoint towards the end of the track, look at Bakewell in its setting, the spire was 15 feet higher until the Victorians reduced it..note the hedgerows on the river flood plain. See fluffy rosebay willowherb at the track end and listen for the sound of pheasants as you descend down past the 'winged dragon tree' (can you spot it?); watch here the path is steep and slippery.
Turn right onto Coombs Road to head back towards Bakewell, there is a tall stand of poplars facing you as you join the road. Take a moment to watch the gentle fall and flutter of leaves in the wind. As you walk on listen for the little stream and waterfall on your left - you are on the flood plain of the River Wye. As the new agricultural centre comes into view you pass three lofty young pine trees on the right, a little further on a line of old willows follows the hedge line on the right, followed by a magnificent oak tree, perhaps 150 years old - a really beautiful specimen. Watch out for another special tree on the right, a mature small leaved lime - a large native tree with distinctive small heart-shaped leaves, just before the entrance to the Eventide home.
At the cattle grid on the left you have a choice, either to continue straight ahead and rejoin the route across Bakewell bridge or to go over the cattle grid (or rather through the little gate beside it).
Walk past the agricultural centre - notice the new planting of hazels and field maples. On your left, is the distinctive hill across towards Haddon and the colourful backcloth of Manners Woods. Go over the bridge by the toilets and head towards the river, there are old hawthorns on the riverside walk.
Now back in town, you can finish the trail, either by turning left and walking down towards the park and the wonderful riverside trees and limes, or going straight ahead past the police station, to Matlock Street, turning left and looking out for the two dawn redwood specimens just beyond Derwent Carpets.
From the Bakewell Tree Trail website : www.bakewell-trees.org