We all need an escape from the treadmill of our daily routine,that personal haven that offers a little peace from the damands of a hurried and frantic world.
My escape is Dartmoor, three hundred and sixty five square miles of vast open landscape of which I have barely scratched the surface of.
Home to ancient oak woodlands, towering granite monoliths and custodian of countless tales of folklore and fable.
Quarrymen, farmers and miners have toiled in this unforgiving landscape, their legacy the scattered remains of farmsteads and buidings for the inquisitve to explore.
I love Dartmoor in all it’s moods, serene summer days where skylarks swoop and soar, the landscape painted with the purple and yellows of heather and gorse, even those frequent wet winter days of mist and greywashed skies have a beauty of their own.
To me, Dartmoor is a source of constant inspiration for my photography and word craft alike, as well as an enormous sense of well being and gratitude that I live so close.
If I have learned just one lesson from my photographic journey over the years, I would probably suggest that patience would be in my list of possibilities.
The nature of my line of work within the catering industry has demanded a sense of urgency, that trait often found its way within my extra curricular activities, where perhaps a little more thought before jumping in with both feet would have been the wiser option.
Certainly, my single focal length projects have taught me to be more patient in finding alternative angles where a zoom lens would allow me to find the obvious but perhaps a better example of this point is from my recent Welsh excursion.
With the holiday rental just a 10 minute walk away from the beautiful Bala Lake, it was natural that my love of early mornings would find me making early forays here. Saturday and Sunday morning were quite windy, with some low cloud in the mountains beyond and while I captured some pleasing images, I was secretly hoping for something a little calmer, a reminder of a scene I captured a few years before perhaps on my first and fleeting visit to a now favourite place.
Tuesday morning and I had not set an early alarm but I was awake just before 4am, I was about to head to the kitchen to make my first brew of the day, instead, I looked out from my bedroom window and saw firstly that the wind had dropped, and in the distance a plume of low cloud over the lake.
That first brew would come later, as I was dressed and out within a few minutes, heading towards photographic utopia.
This first image is from my favoured spot, the nearest to the holiday let but a mile or walk around to the opposite side of the lake to this the site of the local yacht club, was to be one of my best decisions of the holiday as I took shot after shot of the breathtaking beauty before me, my patience had been rewarded and then some.
To actually witness any landscape in such a beautiful light is a pleasure, to capture the scene photographically, is a privilege but to do so, you just have to keep on keeping on.
Day 35 and I have travelled a little further afield from my usual haunts for a few days, staying in the breathtaking scenery of Wales.
With a ‘base’ at Bala lake, there will be a few early morning forays here for sure but today’s post centres on a brief foray to Porthmadog.
This is my second visit to this harbour town, with views of both the sea and the mountains, Moel-y-Gest the prominent hill standing majestically in the distance.
Even among this wonderful scenery, I was still keen to grab a few shots at the nearby steam Railway station, first opened in 1877, the station building is now a grade II listed building.
It is barely 10am and the platform is already bustling with activity, soon to be passengers looking admiringly at their transport for the next few hours, staff preparing said transport and people like me, there just to capture the scene in either still images or video.
I love the hustle and bustle of these charming stations, kept alive by an army of volunteers and employees alike, always immaculately kept, always friendly.
The vibrant colours of the trains and station are emphasized by the warm sun and blue skies, I spend a few minutes chatting to a fellow photographer comparing pictures and naturally talking about ‘gear’.
Perhaps next year I may stop here long enough to take one of these train journeys myself, what better excuse to return again some time soon.
Saturday morning and I have a date with Dartmoor once again, doing my best to make up for my enforced lockdown absences.
Today’s destination is one of my favourites, Whiteworks, a disused tin mining area not far from Princetown.
Tin mining in the area dates as far back as 1790, mining here was at its most prolific here as the demand for tin for the industrial revolution increased, the ore was sent from here to the Calenick smelting house in Truro, as at this time, Devon had no smelting houses.
By 1880, the mining was ceased, only to be revived briefly again in the early 20th century as the value of ore increased but by 1914 mining was discontinued, the land then used for livestock farming and pony breeding.
It is the remnants of this history that brings me back here time and again, the fallen remains of the stone cottages, the fenced off areas showing where the mining shafts once were.
This place has character in spades, where buildings once were, trees now stand, what is left of the cottages brickwork is covered in a verdant cloak of lichen, adding more texture for the photographer’s eye.
Some of my favourite trees of Dartmoor are located here, one in particular torn asunder at its root, it’s branches a tangle of twigs, defiantly reaching for the skies, yet so near to the ground, today this beauty is emphasized by the moody skies blown along by an early autumn breeze.
I am here for pleasure but it is not hard to imagine the brutal nature of the work that once existed in this chapter of Dartmoor’s history.
This rugged beauty of Dartmoor will continue to draw me in like a magnet, it is always a pleasure to spend time here, exploring whatever it wishes to give.