Sunday, 28 March 2010

Doesn't time fly

It's been a year since I first started blogging my way along Hadrian's Wall, that's a lot of words and photographs shared.
Looking back I see that last year was a much better year, weather wise for photographs.
I can't remember the last sunrise I was up for although the last thing I do each night before I switch off the computer is check the Metcheck site to see what the weather will be for the next day.
TT has dibs on the car on Tuesday and Thursday mornings but that leaves another 5 days each week when I could go out if conditions were right.
Hopefully we're getting all of the horrible weather over and done with early in the year so a lovely summer awaits us all.
Cawfields Crag from the road

Saturday morning was brighter than expected so I went off to Cawfields simply for the excercise.
Spoke to a man wandering around the lake there with a clipboard. He was waiting for some divers who were coming to do a survey of the quarry lake, apparently there's some weed that grows in the deeper part of the lake that's not good.
NNPA and the Police (didn't quite understand why they were involved) wanted it surveyed so they could dredge the lake and remove the weed later in the year.

Stormy weather over  Cawfields

I wandered off along to Hadrian's Wall, the blue sky was rapidly disappearing and I wanted to get some photographs before the light went. I like this bit of Hadrian's Wall, it twists and turns it's way up the Crag a nice substantial chunk of masonary and covered in lichens which gives me something to look at while I'm waiting for the light to hit the spot I've mentally marked with an 'X'

Lichens on the stomes of Hadrian's Wall, like a shot from Google earth

I set up the tripod  but I was hand holding the camera to take some shots of the Wall stones.  I kept looking to see how the sun was doing, a brisk wind was moving the clouds at a fair pace and  I could see patches of light dancing across the landscape so I was fairly confident that if I was patient it would get to me eventually.

Thorney Doors

Wouldn't you know it just as it was getting to my 'X' someone stopped to talk to me, hardly anyone around as it was early yet Murphy's Law in action again. The guy was a photographer so I explained I'd been waiting for the light to hit ghe stones and would he excuse me a minute while I took the photo, blow me if he didn't walk right into my shot.
Boy was I cross and thank goodness for the clone tool.

Caw Gap

I spent a nice couple of hours wandering along towards Caw Gap, of course at the highest, most exposed part of Cawfields Crag the heaven's opened and I got absolutely soaked.  I was luckier than Christine and Dave from Burnhead B&B who were out for a run and heading home running directly into the wind and icy rain.
Made me feel positively sluggish and I'm determined to be more energetic.

Caw Gap and Bogle Hole

We have a snow forecast for next week, I hope this time they'll grit the roads so I can get out of Gilsland.
Catch you later.

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

March on Hadrian's Wall in photographs

I'm not up to scratch at the minute, my brain is all over the place so I thought I'd load some photographs taken in the last week or so and just do you a description of each.

Sunset over Crag Lough, the sun has started to move again and the camera was pointing directly at the sun, I had to wait for it to set before I could take a photograph without masses of flare.

Up on Highshields Crag, just above Sycamore Gap, it's nice to be out on the Wall for sunset again, next week the clocks change and my photo outings start in earnest, anyone for a 3.30am start with me?

Probably my favourite shot from that evening outing, the sun's not too bright and is just catching the mosses on the rocks of Highshield Crags. Hadrian's Wall Path runs along the top by the fence.

A bright sunny day, not my favourite conditions for photographs but a joy to be out in the fresh air.
 Lot's of people Walking the Wall, like this couple coming down from Winshields Crag, it's certainly becoming a year round activity.

The sun was playing hide and seek with the clouds, I'm not too unhappy to have to stand around and wait for the light when I'm looking at a view like this from Winshields Crag.

The wide bit of Hadrian's Wall tapers down to a single wall over the original wide foundation before heading down towards Steel Rigg and the crags beyond.

Heading down Winshields Crag you get a view of the Great Ditch to the north of Hadrian's Wall. The stones here are covered in green lichen making a lovely patchwork effect.

I know I'm always going on about NOT walking on the Wall, well there's one bit you can walk on, it goes through the woods to the north of Housesteads Fort and is a small stretch of the turfed Wall, this is the view you get as you come out of the woods heading west.

Coming down Cuddys Crag before the climb up to Housesteads, lots of lovely Wall curves.

Hadrian's Wall is covered with lichens and mosses while the turf topping has a mass of tiny plants growing in it. I'm setting myself a little task to photograph and identify the various plants growing on the Wall.

Another lichen on the Wall stones, they're an amazing plant and I'm determined to learn more about them. I guess I should photograph a ruler next to them to give an idea of scale, can't work out how to get it to stay put on a vertical wall though.

Off to the Doc's tomorrow so hopefully normal service will soon be resumed.
Catch you later.

Sunday, 14 March 2010

Morning after

Regular reader's of this blog will know how much I love Hadrian's Wall, hoping my scribblings will tempt people to come to this area and see for themselves how wonderful it is.

So it's with a heavy heart that I write about the Illuminating Hadrian's Wall event last night.

I'm sure many people will declare it a resounding success, business along the Wall have reported record numbers of visitors. The Greenhead Hotel served 200 meals yesterday and hope for something similar today and B&B's are full at a time of year when there would normally be very few people about.

People start to gether on Cawfield Crags

The Wall farmers however have not fared so well, most of them get no income from tourists and have had to put up with thousands of people trampling over their land, with no regard for the countryside or livestock.
One farmer had several dogs running freely amongst his sheep, he would have been well within his rights to shoot them but when he asked owners to put the dogs on a lead he got a torrent of abuse.
People were clambering all over the Wall with no regard at all for this ancient monument. Roads were clogged and people were parking where ever they could, or simply driving along the Military Road looking at the lights along the way.

Mucklebank Crag panorama at sunset, only three burners were lit along this whole stretch

I went to Cawfields, people spent all day there so they'd be sure of getting a parking space. I chose to be on the public footpath that goes up towards Great Chesters Farm thinking I'd get a nice line of lights coming all the way down from Winshields Crag up through Great Chesters Fort and onto Mucklebank Crag.

Hundreds of people wait for the illuminations to begin

Of course that assumed that people would be able to light the burners and would have enough gas for them to burn for a while.
There were obviously technical problems, so there were big gaps where lights should have been.

Where are all the lights?

What did make me cross was when I saw Roger Clegg's lovely shot looking down from Winshields Crag towards Steel Rigg.
The VIP's were all gathered at Steel Rigg and obviously wanting to make sure they were impressed, twice as many lights were used along the crag there.
I can count 17 burners and no doubt there are more in the 'dunks' how fair is it that people who paid good money to come and view this event get faulty burners and black space while VIP's on a freebie get extra lights.
Even the burner on the highest point of Hadrian's Wall at Winshields Crag seemed to run out of gas after being alight for just 5 minutes.
There was a line of light along the route of Hadrian's Wall but it was car lights in nose to tail traffic.
Some great photographs of the Roman Soldier's at Bowness on Solway firing flaming arrows into the sea, I wish I'd been there!

Hope to be posting on a more positive note later in the week.

Thursday, 11 March 2010

Hadrian's Wall in lights

Just two days to go until the Illuminating of Hadrian's Wall.

I hope that by now you've all worked out where your going to be for this unique event.

There are car parks at Once Brewed Visitor Centre, Cawfields and Walltown to cover the cragys bit of Hadrian's Wall. 
Alison's 'Walltown Cafe' will be open this weekend for snacks and drinks.

Steel Rigg, Housesteads, Birdoswald and Brocolitia Car Parks are accessible to ticket holders only.

From Kennel Crag looking towards Housesteads

I'm still exploring possibilities and went out to Housesteads earlier in the week.
I went up the track east towards Sewingshields Crag. This is a nice 'bumpy' bit of landscape with the line of the Wall snaking across the curves.

The Curvy bits of Hadrian's Wall looking east to Sewingshields

While it's not a big wide chunky Wall it is nevertheless Hadrian's Wall.

The view west from Kings Hill

Sewingshields Crag

As I've said in previous blogs, I was put off photographing the event actually on Hadrian's Wall because of the way those bright green HiViz jackets seemed to dominate my pictures.

Shining green jackets - very distracting I think.

Today I wanted to see what the view was like from the footpath that goes through the gate at Kings Wicket and then turns back west parallel to the Hadrian's Wall Path.
Nice views but very, very muddy underfoot.

View from  footpath, access via Kings Wicket but very muddy

It's also a long way from the car parking area.
Nevertheless with the correct gear, waterproof boots and a strong torch (bring spare batteries) it's a viewpoint that has possibilities.

I'm still in favour of the viewpoint from Barcombe Fell and if you're undecided I'd urge you to consider it.

At Bowness on Solway a contigent of Roman Soldiers will be firing flaming arrows over the Solway - now that'll make a great photograph.

Wherever you go have a great time, park safely, please don't climb on the ancient monument and I look forward to seeing some of your photographs on the  Official  'Illuminating Hadrian's Wall' Flickr site.

Please be aware that big chunks of this area don't have mobile phone coverage - don't take unnecessary risks

Guidlines from Hadrian's Wall Heritage.
As the Line of Light will span 84 miles there will be many other

opportunities for people to view this spectacle across the country.
There are many parts of the countryside from which the Wall can be seen.
Please be aware that anyone travelling to view the Illumination of
Hadrian's Wall does so completely at their own risk. As such we would
urge people to behave responsibly and to take utmost care for the health
and safety of themselves and other members of the public. Please do not
park on roadside verges or trespass onto private land. Please take care
when crossing roads, especially in the dark. For health and safety
reasons our advice is that visitors are strongly advised not to try and
access the Wall at any point other than the designated viewing areas, or
to wander onto the Hadrian's Wall Path National Trail or adjacent land.

Sorry about the copyright notice across the photo's, people have been pinching them to use on their own websites - very naughty.

catch you later.

Monday, 1 March 2010

Views where Buzzards soar

Such a beautiful morning to welcome March, TT was going for a cycle ride so I headed out with my camera.
I had no real destination in mind but I'm still thinking about where I want to be for the Illumination of Hadrian's Wall.
I pottered around Cawfields, I do like the way the Wall climbs up from Cawfields to Winshields Crag and there are lots of spots where you can capture this view without being on the Hadrian's Wall Path.

Near the Hadrians Wall Path at Cawfields

You will have already seen the  pictures I posted of the rehearsal (if not scroll down) I was very much put off by the green HiViz jackets that seemed to show up brighter than the lights.
I had planned to go to Hotbank Crag and scout out the path that goes parallel to Peel Crags but driving along the road I noticed the turn to Barcombe Fell.
I posted a picture from the Long Stone on Twitter a few days ago and decided on the spur of the moment to go up to the stone again.

Heading up Barcombe Fell

I'm so glad I did the views of Hadrian's Wall are amazing.
If you're looking for a spot to see a long line of lights then look no further.

Panorama of Hadrian's Wall from Barcombe Fell -see all the way  from Sewingshields to Walltown
Double click this photo to see an enlarged version

You don't have to go very far up the public footpath to get good views, it's a well worn track so you will be safe as long as you take reasonable care.
The road leading to the FP is part of Stanegate, the old Roman Road, and it's wide enough to park on without causing too much disruption to the farmer.
Perfect in fact.

FP up Barcombe Fell here's a link to the OS map showing you where it is.

Trig point on the site of a Roman Signal Station and the Long Stone on the horizon

I climbed up to the Long Stone, it's a monument to miners killed in a pit accident.

Mining disaster memorial stone with views over Vindolanda
The views over Vindolanda are super and as I walked over the bracken I remembered a book I've read recently that said the Romans used to collect bracken from Barcombe Hill to use as matting for their dwellings.
Certainly walking in the footsteps of history.

Bracken on Barcombe Fell used by the Romans of Vindolanda to carpet their dwellings

I sat on the stone base and ate a ceral bar, watching buzzards in a mating dance high above me, larks were singing,  a Kestral hovered and I could smell the scent of dianthus ( I know really weird) and I don't think I could have been any happier.
It seems I wasn't the only one feeling the joys of spring, as I walked along towards the bridle way to take me up to the Military Road, making a circular walk, I noticed a circular contrail in the sky. Can you imagine the pilot looping the loop and shouting wheeeeeeee?

Full of the joys of spring?

I have some more information on the Illumination but will post that tomorrow for you.
Catch you later.