My Shrewsbury photographer Simon Cousins takes a stroll around Shrewsbury and captures the Autumn colours before the wind sweeps them away.
Bella is our black spaniel and autumn, now in its final throes, is her favourite Shrewsbury season. The glorious scent of decay is everywhere and she suddenly has a lot on her mind, drawing her unique scent map as she sniffs and snorts her way through the undergrowth.
If she comes across a particular pungent smell, she will roll around it, bathing her coat in its stench. We don’t know why.
While her snout remains three inches above the ground, I’m drinking in the pall of the turning leaves, the rich, caramel hum of the season. I kick through a collage of russet and ochre. The path behind Shrewsbury School’s main building looks out across the Severn towards the two medieval spires of St Mary’s and St Alkmund’s and the aluminium finial atop the brutalist 1960’s Market Hall.
The view is softened by the avenue of lime trees, now amber and bronze, running alongside the river on Victoria Avenue.
Bella and I come to the Port Hill bridge. It creaks as we cross, bouncing underneath us. Is it too late in the year for a 99? I decide not. We sidle up to the
Sentinel Steam Waggon and I buy a cornet. Bella gobbles up the end. Dogs are everywhere, big and small, some scrambling through the muddy mix of
moribund leaves for a soggy tennis ball, others pattering along sedately beside their owners. Sabrina, our much-loved Shrewsbury riverboat, is out on a final tour before river levels mean she has to shut for winter.
We reach the blue gates at the entrance to the Quarry Park, where the elegant curve of St Chad’s leads us down Claremont Hill, then up Pride Hill towards St Mary’s.
The colours of autumn are more scarce in the murmuring heart of town. The huge sycamore, once ablaze in St Mary’s churchyard, starts to lose its
lustre in October, as do its smaller cousins by the Buttercross.
The rusted leaves of the horse chestnut by St Alkmund’s are still clinging on gamely.
Down Dogpole we go, turning left down Wyle Cop, past the 15th century Henry Tudor House and the five timber-framed shops beyond. Bella finds a food wrapper with a few crumbs left inside. When she’s finished those, she eats the wrapper too.
We come to the English Bridge; milky cloudscapes have gathered over the Coleham Pumping Station, while on the other side, willows dangle in the water in low autumn sunlight, as the river chases towards the weir.
That same sunlight warms the façade of Shrewsbury Abbey, rising like a sheet of beaten copper above our heads. Opposite, on the other side of the Holyhead road, Bella senses the ghost of a monk preaching from the padlocked pulpit.
The light starts to fail and we head home through Coleham. We cut down towards the river again. Leaves cling to my shoes. Bella’s snout is decorated with watery droplets. She is baffled by leaves pirouetting slowly down to earth.
We love this slow drawing down of the year, when we can take a breath before Christmastime and admire the last, determined leaves singing like jewels in the crisp autumnal light.
Where better to enjoy it than in our beautiful medieval town?