Sunday, 29 November 2009

An amazing day

Saturday didn't start too well but by 10am it was brightening, I happened to the twitter site and found a posting saying there was mist on the Wall.
Within 15 minutes I was up at Crag Lough, then onto Hotbank Crag with a final stop at Sycamore Gap.
It was very, very muddy after all the rain but along, with several dozen other people out enjoying Hadrian's Wall, I didn't care, it was just great to be out there.
Not going to write much tonight just post up extra photo's so you can see for yourself.
Catch you later.

Crag Lough

Hotbank and Crag Lough

Hotbank panorama looking east

Hotbank to Sewingshields

Hadrians Wall Path passing Hotbank Farm

Mist in the valley looking south from Hotbank

Highshields Crag

Mist  coming through Sycamore Gap

Sycamore Gap in the mist

Walking through the mist

Friday, 27 November 2009

It's actaully stopped raining!

Today I started the Christmas shopping, heading off to Carlisle (a lovely, unhurried place to shop) just after ten o'clock this morning.

Somewhere around lunchtime, I realised that the skies above were bright and blue, something we haven't seen in Cumbria for ages, it had actually stopped raining.

Home again by 2.30pm and feeling optomistic,  I headed upstairs to check out my old faithful website, Metcheck, to see what time the sunset was, 3.50pm - goodness it's early isn't it?

I had a quick look at the sun position site to see where the sun would be at sunset and decided that, the best place for my outing today would be Walltown Crags.

The sky was clearing as I climbed up to Hadrian's Wall, sheep scattering before me. I paused to catch a photograph looking east featuring the ewe's, some nice light but it was already very low.

At this time of the year it doesn't get very high at all, giving lovely long shadows.
The cloud that was left in the sky covered the sun, wouldn't you know it, but I set up shop with the gnarly hawthorn tree in the foreground and Walltown Quarry as it's backdrop. Hadrian's Wall runs through the picture but not in a dramatic way, still it is there.

The temperature was dropping and I was facing into the wind, made me think about sorting out my winter woolies.

I'd tried on one of those Russian trapper hats, in Carlisle but when the lady behind me almost fell over laughing I put it back.

Time was passing and the sun managed to break through the clouds just long enough for me to get a photograph, then it disappeared for another day.

Saw several walkers out making the most of a nice evening, we must all be going stir crazy, it's so nice to be able to get out again and not get soaked!

Hoping for a frosty morning tomorrow,
Catch you later,

Sunday, 22 November 2009


We had some sunshine today between the deluges so I decided to go down to the River Irthung at Willowford and see how the water was flowing.

As I turned into to track to Willowford Farm I could hear the waterfall roaring, I've not yet managed to find a safe way down to this fall and today definately wasn't the one to try it.

Lots of repair works to Hadrian's Wall going on and much of the Wall is covered with tarpaulin while the traditional lime mortar fixes.
Essential work but no good for photographs.

The sun was shining as I headed down the steps towards Willowford Bridge, at this time of the year the sun is low and today at midday it was shining directly down towards the bridge.

I headed south and tried some different shots, trying to get some long exposure shots without any real success.
Typical of the day the rain started and in the darkening sky in front of me a rainbow appeared.
I hadn't brought an umbrella and the filters were getting covered in raindrops. I was frantically trying to dry them off to catch a photograph of the rainbow over the bridge. Managed one with just a few rainspots that I was able to clone out.

The cloud covered the sun so I moved to the north side of the bridge, the water there was showing whitecaps.

I just got set up when down came the rain again. This time I was facing diretly into the rain and had to cover the camera, shame because the light was lovely. Eventually I managed to take a photograph, then two walkers crossed the bridge but alas by then my filters were covered in rain again.

Spent a little bit of time seeing how many fossils had been washed down by the torrent of water, some very large stones had sea shell fossils but they're too big to move.
Amazing to pick up something that was a sea bed millions of years ago.

Apparently I missed the canoeists coming down the River Irthing, at least someone is glad of all this water.

Eventually I wandered back home, stopping at the House of Meg in Gilsland for a warming cup of coffee. Andrew has just won an award in the Cafe section of the Ethical Good Food Awards 2009, congratulations to him and his team. Wonder if the resident ghost Meg Teasdale (Walter Scott's Meg Merrilees) helped influence the judges :)
Take care and stay safe

Saturday, 21 November 2009

Walltown and weather

The weather has been awful, so much rain that the oceans must be 2 metres lower than normal, and all of it seems to have fallen on Cumbria and our part of Northumberland.

Parts of Cumbria have had terrible floods with people having to be rescued from their homes and a bridge being washed away.

The forecast was for more of the same so I was suprised when I got up this morning to find a clear sky.
The light looked nice and, while it was later than I would normaly set off, I got myself sorted and headed up to Walltown Crags.

Up on the top it was cold, a chill wind whistling around my extremities, but don't they always talk about the 'wind chill factor', it was certainly chilling me this morning.

I'd left my hat in the car in my rush to get up to the Wall and boy were my ears cold. I was wearing a polo necked sweater so I pulled that up over my ears and waited for sunrise.

Some gentle colour in the sky kept me interested for a wee while.

As usual I was the only person about and I listened to the fieldfares chattering away, they've just about eaten all the hawthorn berries so I expect they'll soon be moving on. A buzzard started to mew as the sun was rising, it's a sound I love.  I couldn't see where it was sitting, probably one of the trees in Walltown wood.

From the top you get wonderful views, west over Longbyre and south over the north Pennines, I was expecting to see flooded fields but could just see a smallish puddle here and there.

The grass on Walltown Crags is looking as lovely as ever, for some reason it's always cropped short and wouldn't look out of place on a bowling green.
Although there are sheep all along our bit of Hadrian's Wall this is the only place where the grass is like this.
Puts my lawn at home to shame!

Eventually the sun managed to get above the low bank of cloud on the horizon, and for a second or so the light hit Hadrian's Wall, then a cloud hid the sun.

I was feeling pretty cold by then but I decided to wait it out, I was rewarded when the cloud was suddenly burnt off and gave me that back and forwards carting the tripod to the next spot, hopefully remembering to level up the camera at each new spot.

At Walltown it's always a challenge to get a picture where William's barn doesn't stand out like a sore thumb.
I'll admit to a temptation to clone it out of my pictures but if you go there you'll see it, so it stays in the picture.
Don't know when I'll next manage to get out, the forecast is dire.
Take care and stay safe.

If you click on the picture you'll see it a bit larger.

Sunday, 15 November 2009

Moments of light

Now I know you may have been out with me on these early mornings before but, while the places may be the same, Mother Nature makes sure conditions on each occasion are quite different.
It was touch and go this morning, quite a bit of cloud about but as they say 'you have to be in it to win it', definately no photographs staying in bed, and maybe this morning would be a WOW morning. You just never can tell.
November and December have very low light, the sun doesn't rise in a very high arc through the sky as I'm sure you know if you're trying to drive with blinding sun low in your eyes.

With no mist we decided to go to Cawfields Crag, there's a lovely stretch of Wall there and with a bit of luck the rising sun will catch the stones for me.
Still no birds on the waters at Cawfields Quarry, maybe they'll come in when the weather gets colder, it has been unseasonably warm for November, hasn't it?
While the walk from the car park to the start of the Wall is muddy, the Hadrian's wall Path on Cawfield Crags is suprisingly dry and so if you're thinking of a bit of Hadrian's Wall  to go for a winter walk it's worth condsidering.

We got to the bit of Cawfields Crag, just west of Thorney Doors, where you can see Hadrian's Wall progressing up and down the crags all the way to Winshields Crag.
The sky began to colour up to the south of us, gorgeous light but nothing to put in front of it to make a pleasing composition, one thing we're short of on Hadrian's Wall is nice photogenic trees.
Eventually as the sun began to rise the colour spread across the sky.
We got ourselves ready for action and it started to rain a bit of a bummer when you're using filters (ND soft grads) .
Just as the rain stopped and the filters had been hastily dried off the sunlight caught the stones of the Wall. 
It always feels a bit like those old movies where the troops were told "don't to shoot until you see the white of their eyes". The shutter clattered away and I managed four shots before the light disappeared, so fleeting but it makes such a difference.

Realising that was more or less it we wandered back to the car park stopping to catch a few obligatory shots of Cawfield Quarry, before heading home for breakfast.
Catch you later,

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Luxury of a lie in

Oh! what luxury it is to be getting up for a sunrise at 6.30am, it seems like cheating somehow.
I even had time for a cup of coffee, then was delayed when the outdoor cat made a dash up the stairs as soon as I opened the front door. He's not house trained so I had to ferret him out from under the dressing table.

My plan was to go to Cawfields for some of my favourite mist pictures but when  I got there the mist was so dense my viewpoints were obscured.

Onto plan B, take the high ground and a climb up to the highest point on the Wall at Winshields Crag, (NY742675) was just the thing.
The mist was pooling at the foot of Peel Crags (NY756676) when I arrived at Steel Rigg so of course I had a moments hesitation but as the sun light is to the south at the moment I decided to go with plan B and make the climb.

Walked out of the car park at Steel Rigg (NY750676) and climbed over the wall steps, taking a minute to admire the new kissing gate the NNPA have put in leading onto Steel Rigg.

Onwards and up the hill, very muddy and from the way the mud is churned up I'd guess there are still a lot of people enjoying the Hadrian's Wall Path.

The way up to the trig point is littered with the  wax cap fungi, such bright colours - I'm sure I saw somewhere that they are becoming rare and you're supposed to record sightings but I'm blowed if I can remember where I saw it.

Texel ewes are out in the fields, soon the tups will be in with them, I told the ladies not to take any notice of his sweet talking ways.

The view from Winshields is breathtaking at most times but today it was doubly so - the mist was rising like waves crashing up over Highshields Crag and I probably spent more time watching it that I did taking photographs.

Sun is rising over the Long Stone momument and, as it happens, the Twice Brewed Pub.

Of course, as Winshields is the highest point, you get views all around and to the west you could see pools of mist with the Nine Nicks of Thirlwall standing proud above the sea of white.

I was out for ages this morning but eventually rumblings reminded me that I hadn't had breakfast so I headed back downhill to the car.
As is my habit I called into Cawfields Quarry (NY713665) to see if there were any birds on the lake there.
I found a big yellow gully cleaning truck chugging away so any wildfowl were long gone.

Click on the pictures if you'd like to see them at a larger size.
Catch you later.

Monday, 9 November 2009

Frost at last

Been waiting for a while now for the frosty mornings to begin and this morning I was rewarded with a white frosty world.

 I had forgotten that this also means I have to defrost the car before I can go anywhere and, of course, the de-icer was nearly empty.

I was headed up to Birdoswald, less than two miles from home, so I made up the time I'd lost.

Birdoswald has a lovely stretch of Hadrian's Wall and unusually you don't have to climb anywhere to see it, you're out of the car park and there it is.

I love the view along the line of the Wall to Walltown Crags on the horizon. It's a bit of an optical illusion, Walltown looks to be so close but it's a good 5 miles away.

At this time of the year the sun rises to the south of this bit of Wall and as it sits in a bit of a dunk the light only catches the top couple of courses of stone.

I had the company of another photographer this morning, nice to compare notes - Liam is from Willowford Farm and had walked up to Birdoswald to meet up with me.

Nice light and a lovely morning to be out, I heard a buzzard calling and large flocks of fieldfares  flew over our heads.

We pottered around taking shots, getting Michael's texel sheep to pose for us, then at 8am we headed our seperate ways.

Liam to let the hens out and me, off to Chapel House Farm to photograph Jamie's tups while they were all together and looking at their best. Soon they'll be in with the ewe's working hard to produce next season's lambs.
They're the Black Face breed, often confused with Swaledales - especially by me.
I was trying to catch them standing 'four square' and for a while they humoured me (I did have a bucket of feed) but after a while they got bored and wandered off.  Got some 'nice' shots but I don't know if they'll meet Jamie's high standard :)
I liked this one, he looks as though he's laughing at my efforts.

Catch you later.

Friday, 6 November 2009

November is here

How quickly the year has passed, I can't believe it's November already and today I have a positive plethora of images for you.

I've been waiting for a nice frosty morning and when I got up it certainly seemed as though this one would be it!

Off to Steel Rigg with colour in the sky, nothing like a bit of red frost to set the pulses racing.

I'm still hoping for a good coloured sky behind the 'Sycamore Tree' so once again I walked east towards my destination.
I could feel the air getting warmer, it had been 0 degrees when I pulled into the car park, now it was showing 5 degrees on my thermometer so no frost then.
I set up and waited, taking the picture of Crag Lough with just a wisp of mist, then came a rush of wing beats and overhead flew 8 beautiful swans.

Because the light was so low the shutter speed wasn't fast enough to freeze the birds flight but I include a shot of their ghostly images flying over  Sycamore Gap.

Things weren't shaping up the way I wanted so I climbed up to Castle Gap and then on up to the viewpoint on Peel Crag. The sky was amazing, so much colour and at this time of the year the light is quite low so it catches the Wall.

I do so love this place, can you tell?

Even behind me looking towards Winshields Crag the sky had colour, and as usual, I had the place to myself, one of the advantages of not having to go to work.

As suddenly as the display started it finished and the sun disapeared into cloud so if you weren't up and about by 8am then you would have missed it.

The Hadrian's Wall Path is so muddy at the moment, yet from all the footprints I saw in the mud there are still lots of people out walking the trail, please remember to wear good stout shoes or boots because it is slippery when wet.

Lots of Wax cap fungi about, at first I thought people had been throwing orange peel around and was getting quite cross about it. Lovely yellow, orange, red and white toadstools litter the crags - magic.

Catch you later,