WITH the late afternoon light fading, combined with a persistent drizzle, the conditions were not ideal for a nature walk.

But determined for some fresh air, I opted for a short circuit by Tillicoultry, starting at the walkway by the edge of the Sterling Mills retail outlet, crossing the footbridge over the River Devon and then heading-up towards Fishcross.

Immediately, my mind relaxed, soaking-up the wonderful tints and ambience of autumn, despite the dreich light.

An elder by the trackside hung heavy with glistening dark berries. Elders have been revered since the earliest of times, with the fruits and flowers making excellent wine and jams.

Coughs were treated with tea made from the flowers, and dyes were obtained from different parts of the bush.

Also catching my eye were the burnished leaves of a wild cherry, or gean, which displayed a palette that shaded from ochre to crimson.

These autumnal geans are no passing beauties either, for in spring their crowns are a snowball of white blooms and even the peeling chestnut-brown bark shines out at you.

Before Fishcross, I veered-off down some steps into Marchglen, crossed the Devon once more over the Glenfoot Bridge, and then followed the bankside path back to Tillicoultry.

Here, a dipper ducked and dived by the river's margin, rapidly turning over small pebbles with its beak in search of caddisfly nymphs and other larvae.

The dipper is one of nature's miracles – a songbird that can dive underwater.

I sat by the bankside to watch it, but it eventually disappeared under the creeping embrace of dusk