The Heights

“The Heights” is the anglicised name of Yr Arddu, a hill of modest height but tremendous character just east of Beddgelert, North Wales.

You approach along winding and undulating single-track roads. My first attempt was thwarted by a large flood across the road. Every stream was full and water was leaking out all over the hillside after much heavy rain. I went a few miles round and found another way. This part of Snowdonia is not heavily visited and I didn’t see another person all afternoon. It’s wild and rocky and very photogenic. There are great views of Moel Hebog, the Nantlle Ridge, the Snowdon range, and the Moelwyns above Blaenau Ffestiniog.

Of course, as usual, Snowdon summit was in cloud.


The light of Provence

We travelled to Provence for the first time in 2016. A village called Malaucene, at the foot of Mont Ventoux, famous as a long-standing Tour de France stage. We spent most of the two weeks climbing on the world-famous limestone cliffs (famous among climbers, at least) but of course I took my camera. I was struck not just by the spectacular scenery and the charm of the villages but also by the quality of the light. I think it’s something that was talked about in the context of the impressionists but it really does have a special quality. I wasn’t able to do it full justice as I’m not really in proper “serious” photographing mode when I’m on holiday with Joy – no tripod, no filters, not much time to plan or wait around for sunsets. But I did get a few decent shots and here are some.

Nant Gwynant

Here are some shots I took of Nant Gwynant yesterday. This is the valley in Snowdonia that runs from Beddgelert northwards, to the junction where the Llanberis pass turns left and then onwards to Capel Curig. On the north side of the road is the Snowdon range, very well known with lots of people. On the south side you have wild lands with very few walkers. The views of the Snowdon range are tremendous but unusual. Snowdon is seen clearly but from an odd angle that most people are unlikely to recognise.

The whole place was like a saturated sponge. Every stream was full and there were plenty of streams that I’m sure wouldn’t usually be there. It’s very photogenic but conditions weren’t ideal, with very strong winds turning me back from my high point and chasing me back half way down the hill. It was mostly cloudy but as I’d hoped the sun poked it’s head out just before it went down behind the far mountains.

Shining Tor

Shining Tor is the highest point in Cheshire. It has great views (on a clear day) across the Cheshire plain. This wasn’t such a clear day but had some nice textures and moods for a black and white treatment.

On some of the shots you can see what looks like the moon. It’s actually the sun, which was behaving quite strangely that day. It was reported in most of the papers. It was dim and orange, an effect caused, I seem to remember, by dust in the atmosphere from somewhere?

In my back yard

When photographing I spend most of my time in Snowdonia, the Lake District, Yorkshire Dales, etc. Hilly places of obvious scenic spectacle. Where I live is Cheshire, not far from Manchester. It has no hills and no spectacle. It doesn’t much inspire me, if I’m honest. But season, weather, and light can create spectacle and drama. On such a morning I went out a couple of months ago to a little lake just round the corner from my house.

Tree Portrait, Tarn Hows

This portrait is of a tree in the small lake of Tarn Hows in the Lake District. It was a disappointing day otherwise. I was hoping for the tail end of the autumn colour but it had gone already and this is the only shot of the day that I’m happy with.


The warm toning of the black and white conversion comes from Lightroom’s Creamtone preset, which I haven’t used before but may use again.


I found a quiet day during the Christmas rush at the end of November and went out to Grasmere in the Lake District. There had been some snow and the mountain tops looked pretty. Very cold and windy, which made photographing difficult and encouraged me to do the circuit as quickly as I could to keep warm. Starting from Grasmere village I did a circuit starting up to Helm Crag and north and west along the ridge then dropping down into Easedale at it’s head and back along the valley bottom. It’s been a long time since I’ve been up there and I didn’t know how good the views were. Definitely a place for a return visit.

Helvellyn must be one of the most difficult Cumbrian mountains to photograph. From almost every angle it hides itself among other high tops. Some mountains are easily recognisable, some are iconic (think the Matterhorn) but even if you know the Lake District well can you picture Helvellyn in your mind’s eye? I’ll have to keep trying.