Archive | June, 2012

Back to walking in beautiful Dorset, a cat that plays ball…..and a car that doesn’t!

22 Jun

Well, having scaled the heights of Snowdonia in my recent posts, we are back in beautiful Dorset today – and beautiful it was with some strange blue stuff above me and even a big round yellow thing ;)!  It was actually sunshine and blue skies which is something of a miracle this ‘summer’!!

I parked up in a north Dorset village right outside the church so before I even got walking I had a look round – village churches are always so interesting and this one was no exception.  The thing that caught my eye was a lovely circular window with stained glass depicting the verse ‘Suffer the little children to come unto Me, for of such is the kingdom of heaven’.  It was unusual to see a circular window.

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Suffer the little children to come unto Me

Those who have been following my blog will know that I regularly look round churches on my walks.  This is partly because I love the old church architecture and the different styles that were popularised through the ages such as Norman, Early English, Decorated, Perpendicular etc as well as the fact that everything has a meaning or conveys a message, things such as gargoyles, bench ends and so on.  Not long ago there was a documentary on television called ‘How to Read a Church’ which was really interesting because unless you know what you are looking at, the messages are all lost.  More than this though, I love the sense of all the lives that have been touched by these churches over hundreds of years – this is a far greater legacy than the purely architectural heritage and goes much deeper.  And along with this is the pure witness of the churches – after all, when you approach a village on a walk, what is the first thing you see – it is the church tower standing proud and declaring the message of Christianity to all.

But I was challenged recently!  I went into a church, looked at all the interesting features, took lots of photographs and was on my way out when I stopped short!  This was a house of prayer and all I had done was look around and take pictures!  So I made a decision that whenever I look round a village church, I will always offer a prayer for those who worship there, for the local people whose lives are impacted by its presence.

Once I’d got going on my walk, I very quickly came across the most beautiful meadows that were rife with wild flowers and butterflies.  The flowers were comparatively easy to capture with the camera but not so the butterflies – but more of that later!

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Dandelions and blue skies

I just love meadows!  With the long grasses, dandelions, daisies, buttercups, orchids and all manner of other colourful flowers waving their heads in the breeze – for me, its almost as spiritual a place as being in church.

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In the meadows

So back to those butterflies :)!  They are so pretty, delicate and harmless aren’t they, but I think they have a devious side!  So there I am walking across this meadow and the butterflies, loads of them, flutter past me and settle on a stem of grass right in front of me.  I get my camera out carefully and approach stealthily and they just sit there whilst I frame the shot and focus the camera.  The shutter release is halfway down and I’m about to capture a classic competition winning shot…….and they take off leaving me with a lovely shot of a blade of grass.  So I walk on a short distance, they flutter past me again, settle on a blade of grass, and the whole thing is repeated again!  I’ll swear that they have a grin on their faces as they take off ;)!!  So I gave up and they won the day!

It wasn’t only the butterflies that toyed with me either!  The cows, well heifers, did the same.  I crossed several fields that were part of a dairy farm and they kept following me – they are inquisitive little things.  Every time I stopped and turned round, they stopped too.  Maybe they thought I was the pied piper of Hamlyn!

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Nosy!

About half way round my circular walk, I came across another delightful village church.  This one was full of photographic opportunities such as beautiful windows with the most gorgeous light coming through onto the flowers that had been placed on the window sills inside.  I think the window below was really lovely in an understated way with its plain glass.

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The church window

The window below had tinted glass which really warmed the soft light coming through.

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Beautiful light

But it wasn’t only the interior, the churchyard was lovely too.  It had the most gorgeous copper beech tree and the afternoon sunlight really brought out the fabulous colours of its summer foliage.  I often eat my lunch in graveyards which might make me seem strange but they are great places for finding wildlife……and besides, they are often the only places you can find a seat :)!

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The graveyard copper beech 

Part of the walk took me down some country lanes.  Now normally I like to avoid roads but country lanes are different provided they are quiet.  They can actually be very pretty in the summer when the hedgerows are vibrant with wild flowers and there are usually some lovely old typical Dorset thatched cottages to add interest as well as the odd orchard or nature reserve to detour onto.  The hedgerows seemed to be particularly vibrant on this walk.

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The hedgerows

There seemed to be a lot of the plants in the picture below – like miniature conifer trees.  I believe it is great horsetail and that lovely fresh green colour looks striking with the low sunlight streaking through from behind.

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Great Horsetail

There was a surprising amount of what I call ‘autumn’ colours too – I loved the subtle changes in tones in the picture below, ranging from the deep red new growth, through reddish orange and yellow to green.  God is such a great ‘painter’ of colours!

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Subtle hedgerow tones

And hogweed, probably not the most attractive plant but its hairy stems always look great when backlit by the sun.

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Hogweed

Eventually the country lane led me to another village and here, it was The Dorset Rambler to the rescue again!!  This time it was a little bird, a blue tit, in the mouth of a cat!  Actually I didn’t set out to rescue it, I could just see that the cat had something in its mouth and when I went towards him he let it go and it flew unharmed up into the tree in the cottage garden.  I was glad I happened along at that moment though!

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The cottage garden

The last few miles of the walk took me through the most beautiful parklands that surrounded the local manor house.  It was the golden hour, the time when the sun is getting low in the sky and the light is at its best – if you are a photographer you will know that morning and evening light is by far the best.  The grounds had been landscaped and planted with a whole variety of different trees so naturally I spent more time taking pictures than walking!

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Parklands

It was a spectacular end to a fabulous day’s walking back in my beloved Dorset – but sadly the day wasn’t to end as I’d hoped!  As I drove home feeling very satisfied, the car broke down and I had to call the RAC who were unable to fix it so it had to be transported back on a rescue truck.  I spend a lot of time sat by the roadside waiting to be collected.  So what does a photographer do when he has time on his hands……take pictures of course.  I wandered off with my camera :)!

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Beside the country road

Whatever happens and wherever you are, there is always something beautiful if you just look for it :)!

PS – I did get home safely at about midnight and the car is now at the car hospital having an operation :)!

Thanks for stopping by and reading the ramblings of The Dorset Rambler :)

Your friend, The Dorset Rambler

The pictures on this blog are all copyright of The Dorset Ramble and must not be reproduced or used without permission.

Sadness – conceptual photography as art!

13 Jun

As you will know, I am predominantly a landscape photographer, partly because I love walking, the countryside, wildlife, just being outdoors etc and that combines well with landscape photography. But while I was walking the other day I was thinking about what actually makes up a landscape photograph:

1. Maybe 30% comprises the various elements – mountains, hills, lakes, rivers, trees etc.
2. Maybe 30% is down to the light/atmosphere.
3. Perhaps 20% is down to the technical aspects – exposure, focus, sharpness and so on.
4. Maybe 20% is down to the variables such as the viewpoint, time of day etc.

Looking at that list, the reality is that the photographer only controls number 4, all the others are down to God and Mr Canon or Mr Sony or whoever made the camera – ultimately I guess that one is down to God too because He made the people who made the camera (hmm, of course He made me too so who really takes the credit for a photograph?). OK, the percentages I have quoted are arbitrary and you might disagree with them, but you get the point!  The photographer has input into perhaps 20% of the overall picture because after all, if God hadn’t created the mountains, hills, rivers etc and placed them there, or indeed made the people who made the camera, then the picture would not be possible.

OK, I realise I have very much over simplified things, but the point of all this is that we all need creativity in some form and sometimes I crave more creativity than just recording the scene (as much as I love that), to have more freedom and input into the end result, to just let the imagination run free!  I used to paint in oils and with that, you start with a blank canvas and you create the whole thing apart from the fact that you probably didn’t make your own paint, Mr Rowney or Mr Windsor and Newton probably did that.  One day when I am fully retired, I will get my paints out again but for the time being at least, photography to a greater or lesser extent fulfills my creative ‘needs’.

Recently, I went out for a walk through some meadows with the deliberate intention of taking some shots which were more than just a record of the landscape, to produce some shots which say something deeper or invoke some feelings in the viewer.  One of these shots is below – I’m hoping you get the point behind the picture!

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Sadness!

This is conceptual photography as art!

Thanks for stopping by and reading the ramblings of The Dorset Rambler!

Your friend

The Dorset Rambler

The photographs on this blog are the copyright of The Dorset Rambler and may not be reproduced without permission.

Ramblings (and scramblings!) with King Arthur on The Snowdon Horseshoe :)

7 Jun

I have a number of ‘favourite’ walks (if that is not an oxymoron!) and one of these is the fabulous Snowdon Horseshoe which I had a chance to enjoy again on our recent holiday in North Wales.  I say ‘walk’ although I’m not sure it can really be classed as that because much of it is a grade 1 scramble or perhaps even more severe depending on the route you take.  I guess part of the reason I enjoy it is because it is in many ways in stark contrast to walking in Dorset which is much more about beautiful rolling countryside than the ruggedness which is everywhere in Snowdonia.

The route started at Pen Y Pass, the high point on the pass that cuts through the mountains at Llanberis and the first part followed the route of the Pyg Track, one of several paths to the Snowdon summit.  It is a very craggy path and gets its name from the Pen Y Gwryd, a nearby hotel much used by the early climbers.

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On the Pyg Track with Crib Goch in the distance

The Pyg Track is a relatively straight forward introduction to the main walk on the Horseshoe route but I followed it only as far as Bwlch Y Moch (pass of the pigs) where the main work began!  From here, whilst the Pyg Track continued its way more directly onto Yr Wyddfa, the highest summit of Snowdon, my route left that track and headed directly up the very steep and craggy mountainside onto the top of Crib Goch.

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The Pyg Track winds its way on but my route was directly up the mountainside ahead

It may seem strange to take the most difficult route when there is a much easier way but I have to say that the rewards are great!  Crib Goch is one of the best scrambles in Wales, it is both extremely challenging but also do-able and I do love a good scramble where you are required to use hands and feet to haul yourself to the top which in the case of Crib Goch is at 3,000 feet.  And having overcome the challenges of the ascent, you are greeted by the sight below :)!

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The arete of Crib Goch with the distant peaks of Garnedd Ugain (right) and Yr Wyddfa (left)

In the picture above, you can see the route from this point which follows the top of the ridge which zig zags its way eventually to the Snowdon summit and then continues down the ridge to the left to climb over several more peaks before dropping back down off the mountain.  The whole ridge is extremely exposed and you feel quite vulnerable with the sheer drops down each side, particularly when the wind whips across the top.  It is even more exposed when the weather is bad……..but I was blessed with good weather :)!  In fact of course it is that very exposure that makes it such an awesome ‘walk’, as well as the fabulous views that are all around!  The highest point along the Crib Goch Arete are the Pinnacles which you can see in the pictures below.  It is possible to skirt round these but being a purist ridge walker, my route went over the top!

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The Pinnacles

Having made my way across Crib Goch, the route eased off slightly for a short time at Bwlch Goch, a slightly lower pass on the ridge.

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Looking back at Crib Goch from Bwlch Goch

But not for long!  Looking ahead, the bulk of Crib Y Ddysgl (rake of the dish) loomed up – this is another scramble leading to the top of Garnedd Ugain.  You can get something of the scale in the picture below because there is someone dressed in red just starting the climb.

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Crib Y Ddysgl and Garnedd Ugain loom ahead

I said before that the views are amazing from all along this ridge.  Far below is Glaslyn which literally means ‘blue lake’ – this sits below the Snowdon summit.

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Glaslyn and Yr Wyddfa, the Snowdon summit

And looking back from Garnedd Ugain, you can see where the route has taken me so far.

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Looking back at Crib Goch from Garnedd Ugain

Fron Garnedd Ugain, the walk was fairly straight forward for a time (and at this point it is a walk :) ) across the col of Bwlch Glas and up the slope to the main Snowdon summit.  The main difficulty here is simply the number of people on the top as there are ‘tourist’ routes and even a rack and pinion railway up to that point.  And on top is the inevitable cafe!!  When I walk, I prefer to be away from the crowds so I hurried straight through and onto the next part of my ‘walk’.

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Looking west from Bwlch Glas across Glaslyn and Llyn Llydaw

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The Snowdon Mountain Railway

You might think that dropping down off the summit would be easier but actually it isn’t!  For a lot of the time, the route drops down a scree slope with lots of loose rocks which can be lethal if you are not careful.  If you are not reasonably sure footed, you could wind up on your backside numerous times, or worse, not to be recommended!  Mind you, I felt a bit smug when I passed the people in the picture below as they still had a long way to go before reaching the top!

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Dropping down the scree slope from the summit with Llyn Llidaw far below

Eventually, the path did level off onto a better surface at Bwlch Y Saetheau (pass of the arrows).  This is said to be where King Arthur’s knights fought their last battle and tradition has it that they are still waiting for the battle trumpet to wake them up to rid Wales of the Saxon invaders!  The better footpath did give a good opportunity to enjoy the views…..except that those views included the twin peaks of Y Lliwedd which of course I had to climb up and over!!

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The view from Bwlch Y Saetheau with Y Lliwedd in the distance

And as I got nearer, the slope up to the peaks seemed even more steep!

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Y Lliwedd – the only way is up!

Having moved on from the main summit, I left the crowds behind and apart from some other walkers in the distance, it was just me with seagulls for company!  Where there is food, there are seagulls – at this point I had decided that an afternoon snack was called for!

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Where there is food, there are seagulls!

From Y Lliwedd there are great views across Llyn Lliddaw which is a huge Snowdon reservoir nestling in the valley and surrounded by the Horseshoe – you can see Crib Goch across the lake in the picture below.  According to some, Llyn Llydaw is the famous Arthurian lake from which Excaliber appeared and later returned.  From this point, it really was all downhill to the shore of Llyn Llidaw, although again it was down rocky scree slopes and over rough ground so definitely a testing downhill section.  In fact it is so hard on the feet and it was such a hot day that it was a relief to get back onto more level ground again and to sit on the edge of the lake and soak my feet for a while :)!

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Llyn Llydaw, a Snowdon reservoir

The final stretch of the walk was along the very well surfaced (and level) Miners’ Track which was, as the name suggests, used by workers when Snowdon was being mined for copper.  The mine itself is beside Glaslyn, immediately below the summit, but there are old mine buildings beside Llyn Teyrn, the lake in the picture below.

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Llyn Teyrn with the Snowdon range in the distance

As I walked round Llyn Teyrn on the final stretch of a stretching walk, I turned and looked across the lake with its old mine buildings to the Snowdon range as the sun began to fade to blue and I was a deeply satisfied man :)!  What a great day!

Thanks for stopping by and reading the ramblings of The Dorset Rambler!

Your friend

The Dorset Rambler

All images in this blog are the copyright of The Dorset Rambler and must not be used without permission.

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