Man-made landscapes

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Here are a few more shots from Holme Fell, the location I’ve been visiting so much recently.

I’ve been asked to give a talk to a local natural history society (they’re booking well in advance – this is scheduled for February 2021!). For my subject I’ve decided to talk about how our supposedly natural landscapes are actually man-made. This was prompted by a TV programme I saw recently about some part of the countryside where a woman was asked why she helped out with the local grouse shoot when she was a vegetarian. She said these pastimes help to conserve the landscape that we love. I couldn’t help wondering what would happen to that landscape if it were left to its own devices. It wouldn’t spontaneously cover itself in concrete.

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However, it is a fact that most of the pretty countryside we like so much in England and Wales is entirely the work of humans. Holme Fell is a very good example. The tarn you see in two of the shots, Yew Tree tarn, was created in the 1930s when the landowner decided to dam the river. The wider fell area is full of old mine workings, now abandoned (very beautifully) to silver birch and larch. Most of the cumbrian fells are generally denuded of trees because of hundreds of years of sheep grazing.

This is the countryside we love, but we have made it that way.

Holme Fell part three

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I’m still catching up processing the shots of Holme Fell I’ve been taking over the last few weeks. The autumn colour is now largely gone and we’re getting into winter scenery but in these shots there is still plenty of orange and gold.

On this trip I started at the quarry. There is a lookout on the edge of all things with a great view of the Langdale Pikes, those hills of unmistakable shape. Then I explored upwards, going out onto the open fell for more spectacular views. This was when I realised the panorama that was available, taking in the Pikes, Fairfield and Helvellyn, Coniston Water, and in the distance the Howgill Fells.

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I still have more shots to come from this place and I’m sure I’ll be back as the season changes, especially if snow comes. For now I hope you enjoy this latest batch.

Holme Fell part one

Lingmoor Fell and Bowfell
Lingmoor Fell and Bowfell

I’ve been all around this area of the Lake District for many years and thought I knew it well but there is a square mile in the middle that I’ve overlooked and turns out to contain treasure.

The only other time I visited Holme Fell was in summer some years ago and it was a wilderness of ankle-breaking rocks and chest high bracken. The weather and light weren’t encouraging that day and I never went back. I’ve seen a number of shots from other photographers that suggested it was worth another go. It is without doubt a landscape photographer’s paradise.

Fairfield from Holme Fell
Fairfield from Holme Fell

In the past I’ve usually flitted around from one location to another – Yorkshire Dales one week, Wales the next, and so on. For the past several weeks I’ve been changing tactics and visiting the same place repeatedly to try and get the best from it. I think so far I’ve only made a small dent.

There are great panoramic views of the southern lakeland fells – Fairfield and Helvellyn, the Langdale Pikes, Bowfell, Wetherlam and Coniston. There’s a great view of the head of Coniston Water. On a clear day you can easily see Ingleborough over in the Yorkshire Dales.

Then there are the slate mining remnants and the quarry (I should say – The Quarry – it’s certainly impressive enough to be capitalised). In autumn it’s a wonderful golden mix of broadleaf and larch with plenty of shapely silver birch which will carry on being photogenic when bare in winter.

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I’ve now had four trips, each of which has produced some good shots – five if you count the Tarn Hows trip I reported a couple of posts ago, Tarn Hows being right next door if you will. I still don’t think I’ve got the best out of it. I also think from now on I might repeat this tactic of concentrating on small areas for prolonged periods.

Autumn is here – Tarn Hows

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Tarn Hows is one of the most beautiful lakes in an area renowned for beautiful lakes – the Lake District. In the Lake District there are Lakes (e.g. Bassenthwaite Lake), Waters (e.g. Coniston Water) and Tarns (e.g. Angle Tarn, Sprinkling Tarn). Tarn Hows is, presumably then, a tarn – don’t ask me the difference.

From the small knoll at its side you can see Wetherlam, the Langdale Pikes and the Fairfield/Helvellyn range. It is also surrounded by very colourful trees, making it a must-visit destination in autumn. It was no surprise then that I saw so many other serious-looking photographers, though at no point did the place feel crowded.

One of the joys of Tarn Hows in autumn is the growth of larch trees that turn bright orange in autumn but unfortunately they’re being badly affected by a fungal growth and the landowner (the National Trust) is clearing out large areas of larch to try and control the spread.

It’s a very easy location to photograph as there is a car park right next to the lake so once the sun has set you’re back in the car within a few minutes. Despite several visits over the years I still don’t feel I’ve been able to do it justice so I think many more visits will be called for.

More Cheshire Autumn

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This has been a great autumn and it isn’t over yet. I went back to the woods at Alderley Edge and found them full of colour and with the perfect overcast sky.

There’s a legend about these woods. About a wizard. You can see how these woods could produce such a legend, they’re full of character. There are beautiful individual trees, both mature and sapling. I found myself strolling very slowly, waiting for compositions to arrange themselves. A good sign.


The Olympus OMD-EM10 is perfect for this type of shooting. Using a tripod, the day is dull enough that the rear screen is easily seen and composing on a large, high-resolution screen is really nice. It also lets me compose using my crop of choice – 1:1 or 16:9 or the native 4:3.

 

Trefriw

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I took a couple of shots earlier this year that have had a big influence on me. They were both shots of narrow, tree-lined lanes. Since then I’ve been taking lots of photos of lanes and going out of my way to find such places. I don’t know if it’s a passing fad or something longer term but I’ve been very pleased to find inspiration in the less obvious.

These shots were taken a few weeks ago near the village of Trefriw, in the Conwy valley in Snowdonia. From the village you can wander into the hills towards the lakes of Crafnant and Gerionydd. You go into steep-sided, thickly wooded valleys with some wonderful views. Despite the loveliness I was surprised at how few shots I took.