Don’t go into the woods – lessons you’d think I would have learned by now

Coed y Brenin
Coed y Brenin

Whenever a walk has a significant stretch in managed woodlands, like Forestry Commission woods, I always get lost. It isn’t my fault. The paths on the ground and the paths on the map don’t bear any relationship to each other. The woodland managers make new paths and tracks whenever they want and when you’re hemmed in by conifers all directions look the same. Coed y Brenin in south Snowdonia is no exception to this. Continue reading

Duddon Valley

Duddon Valley
Duddon Valley

The Duddon Valley is in the south-west of the Lake District, running north to south just to the left of Coniston. It isn’t popular, perhaps because it doesn’t have any big mountains, but it’s one of the most beautiful valleys of Cumbria. Spring is a good time to visit because of the blackthorn and hawthorn blossom, wild garlic, bluebells, and the delicate bright green of new leaves.

The road climbs very steeply for half a mile as you enter the valley and as soon as it levels out you give an internal “ooh” as you see the view. The fields, walls, barns and hills are laid out just so and the trees look like they’ve been chosen to make an arboretum. This is one place where the view is better down near the road than from the hill tops.

The rain that started at lunch time wasn’t just a shower and eventually I gave up early and retired for a cuppa at an empty cafe in Broughton, a very pleasant little market village close by.

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.