It was only a little over a fortnight since we'd taken our regular circular walk around St.John's Chapel in Weardale but, when we visited again on Saturday, the intervening period of almost dawn-to-dusk sunshine had transformed the landscape. All the early summer flowers, like the wood cranesbill, had run to seed and perfect haymaking weather meant that all the meadows had been mown.
Even though this was only July, it seemed as though the summer is slipping by and it felt, as they say around here, 'proper back-endish'.
Harebells and crested dog's tail grass beside Harthope burn
Marsh woundwort in flower beside a ditch at the bottom of Chapel Fell
The frothy blossom of meadowsweet, once used for flavouring mead (the name has nothing to do with meadows, it refers to mead).
Monkey flower Mimulus guttatus in the gravel beside the river Wear. Thirty years ago, when I first saw it on this spot, this alien plant from the western United States was much commoner along the river than it is now - it seems to have gone into decline.
Rushes flowering on the slopes of Chapel Fell. For much of the year these are dull plants but for a brief period, when they flower, they look very attractive in the sunlight (double-click for a clearer image)
Timothy Grass Phleum pratense, flowering in corners of meadows that the mower missed. Very similar to meadow foxtail Alopecurus pratensis, but that flowers in spring and this flowers in mid-summer.
A most heartening sight - one of twelve freshly emerged small tortoiseshells on creeping thistles, on the flanks of Chapel Fell. These butterflies seem to be doing very well around here this year - we had seven at once on the Inula flowers in our front garden this weekend.
Spot the fish: a trout, keeping station in the sunlit river below a waterfall, catching whatever the river delivers and only given away by its shadow - the fish's back is a very close match for the colour of the underlying rock.
Up on Chapel Fell the lapwings have finished nesting and are now forming flocks with their juveniles.