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[Me]

Touring Britain bit by bit with a pair of boots, a few bicycles, a lot of trains and a bag of lenses. I take pictures and then I write about them.

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architecture bristol coastal cumbria dorset events highlands history industrial lake district lakes london mountains not the uk photo essays photography politics protests rural rural decay science scotland somerset structures the north uk urban urban decay wales westcountry all tags


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Sun, 15 Jul 2012

The Crinan Canal

Loch Fyne

Not your usual inland navigation: the 14km canal from sea to sea Ardrishaig on Loch Gilp in the east and Crinan on the Sound of Jura in the west, cutting across the top of the long and narrow Kintyre-Knapdale peninsula built in 1794 for commercial sea going sailing vessels.

Crinan Canal

Crinan Canal

Later replaced by steamboats, the Clyde Puffers, cargo carriers between Glasgow and the Hebridean islands and isolated West Highland coastal communities.

boats!

And now in turn largely replaced by private yachts, taking advantage of the 100km shortcut and bypass of the exposed waters around the Kintyre peninsula that are provided by the canal.

Crinan Canal

Crinan Canal

Crinan Canal

Crinan Canal

Crinan Canal

Crinan

And by towpath tourists taking in the views to the islands and out over the Moine Mhòr to the mountains.

coos

View Larger Map


[Tag] Tags: canals, highlands, history, industrial, rural, scotland, uk


Sun, 8 Jul 2012

In Credit Crunch Caernarfon

Caernarfon Castle

Caernarfon has been a town of political and economic importance. Positioned on the fertile and mineral rich territory at a small natural harbour at the mouth of the Afon Seiont north of Snowdonia, standing guard over the Menai Strait opposite the Isle of Anglesey, the Celts settled here, later to be ruled over by the Romans from their Caernarfon fort. When the Romans left, the Kingdom of Gwynedd emerged in North Wales, until, after centuries of Norman and Plantagenet coveting and encroachment, Edward I took Wales and filled it with his castles to impose his control. Caernarfon was chosen for one of the most substantial fortifications, with an extremely expensive new walled town and garrison built to administer the new English-style shire county of Caernarfonshire. The Royal Town's historical status is reflected in its hosting the investiture ceremonies for Princes of Wales.

no parking

Caernarfon

But Princes of Wales aren't made all that often. The harbour is tiny and shallow by today's standards. The Menai Strait needs no guard. The garrison has been empty for centuries. The railway came and went already, and the modern road is more curse than asset. And so with the latest recession it has been looking a bit sad.

creepy house

Not the terminal feel that I get from its neighbour up the coast, Llandudno, I don't think. The castle and walls stand as strong as ever; the market square and sea front, when not given up to long rows of static automobiles, can still be nice places; and the Welsh Highland tourist railway has reached the town. There was evidence of care when I last walked around, a year ago. Down but not out, perhaps.

Caernarfon

Caernarfon

Caernarfon

Caernarfon

Caernarfon

Caernarfon

View Larger Map


[Tag] Tags: caernarfon, castles, gwynedd, history, recession, uk, urban decay, wales


Sun, 1 Jul 2012

The Derwent Dams

Derwent

At the northern end of Derbyshire the rain that falls on the Dark Peak of the Peak District gathers into the River Derwent, a tributary of the Trent, which cuts a deep valley through the millstone grit plateau.

dam

Derwent Reservoir

The valley here is dammed by the Howden and Derwent Dams, and then, after conflux of the Derwent with the Ashop, by Ladybower Dam, to form one of Britain's major water supply systems and quench the thirst of the industrial towns of South Yorkshire and the East Midlands.

Derwent Valley

The solid stone neo-Gothic Howden and Derwent dams were constructed first, starting in 1901, with a narrow gauge railway constructed to carry rock up the valley from their quarry to Birchinlee, the temporary "Tin Town" of the builders. The upper of the two, Howden, was completed a hundred years ago, in July 1912, and Derwent followed at the end of the following year.

Derwent Reservoir

Derwent Reservoir

It immediately became clear that the dams weren't catching enough to support the growing populations and industries of the areas, and so a weir-culvert-tunnel system was constructed to divert the Ashop from the neighbouring valley into Derwent Reservoir. But even after with this source added in 1920, the problem was not really solved. In 1935 work began on Ladybower Reservoir, capturing further tributaries and extending the catchment area from 21 to 26 square kilometres, and adding 6.3 billion gallons of storage capacity to the 2.1 billion of Derwent and 1.9 billion of Howden.

Ladybower Reservoir

These photos were all taken in May last year. I'll have to go back for more one day, though: after prolonged rain, the dam faces become huge spillways.

Ladybower Reservoir

Derwent Reservoir

Ladybower

Derwent Reservoir

Upper Derwent Valley

Upper Derwent Valley

Upper Derwent Valley

Upper Derwent Valley

Upper Derwent Valley

Upper Derwent Valley


View Larger MapOrdnance Survey Map


[Tag] Tags: derbyshire, history, lakes, peak district, reservoirs, rural, the midlands, uk


Sun, 24 Jun 2012

Boston, six years ago

Back Bay

I was at a conference in Boston, Massachusetts, when the East Coast of the United States flooded in June 2006.

Boston skyline

Beacon Hill

Boston wasn't badly hit with flooding, but it did spend a few days covered in fog and puddles.

Back Bay

I'd only just bought my first SLR a couple of weeks before the D50 with 18-55 lens so wandered around town trying it out.

Boston

Longfellow Bridge

Pointing it at anything and everything, and not usually doing a very good job at all.

East Boston

There are more pictures in the Boston gallery.


[Tag] Tags: east coast, floods, fog, massachusetts, new england, not the uk, rain, urban, usa, weather


Sun, 17 Jun 2012

A82

River Etive

The A82 between Tyndrum and North Ballachulish in the West Highlands is a remarkable road.

Rannoch Moor

A82

Astonishing not just for the breathtaking moorland and mountain landscape that it floats across and weaves through.

River Etive

And the extraordinarily difficult remote and hostile conditions in which it was constructed, across deep peat bogs, around peaks and lochans and over fast flowing and frequently frozen mountain rivers.

Leaving Rannoch Moor

A82

Rannoch Moor

But because it was built in 1931 to a very distinctive engineering style which is rarely seen in our mediaeval lanes or our modern roads made up of computer generated continuous gentle curves.

A82

It is more like a Roman Road or the military roads built to suppress the Jacobite risings, in following perfect straight lines for many miles at a time across the flatter parts of the moor, joined in short curves.

Rannoch Moor

Rannoch Moor

But maintaining a relatively flat and practical course, across the rocky mountain streams on reinforced concrete bridges and viaducts, built in situ to graceful but experimental designs that haven't been seen since the discovery of the boring but cheap square beams on straight stilts method of road bridge construction.

Buachaille Etive Mòr

Its one of those few places that actually bears some resemblance to the great open road of car adverts and Top Gear features the thing, the freedom, the lifestyle that people are told that they are buying when they get conned into a daily grind of traffic jams on cluttered streets and webs of dull computer-designed roundabout-linked suburban distributor roads, and all the ill-health and unhappiness that comes with it.

digging a road

Rannoch Moor

Except that this is still a real road, with real traffic and real drivers. So the moor is littered with broken plastic and glass; bumpers and hub caps and metal slowly sinking into the peat. Better the quick death by car here than the slow one on the ring road, perhaps?

Buachaille

More pictures in the Highlands gallery.

View Larger Map


[Tag] Tags: bridges, highlands, history, mountains, photo essays, rannoch moor, roads, rural, scotland, uk


Sun, 10 Jun 2012

Purdown Transmitter

transmitter

Another one of those shots that I've taken again and again and again, capturing it in all seasons, lights and conditions, in this case because it was on my commute for several years.

Pur Down

Pur Down

The BT tower on Pur Down, in the north of Bristol, a thin and increasingly isolated sliver of green space, once farmland, consumed and constricted and now cut off from the surrounding country by the growing city: one of those locations where you can pretend that the city isn't there if you get the camera angle and conditions right.

Pur Down, Bristol

When I returned that way a few weeks ago for the first time in five years, the microwave transmitters which were the original point of the tower had gone, like those on the BT Tower in London.

Pur Down, Bristol

Pur Down

Pur Down

Pur Down

Pur Down

Pur Down

Pur Down

Pur Down

Pur Down

View Larger Map


[Tag] Tags: bristol, structures, time series, uk, urban, westcountry


Tue, 5 Jun 2012

Denny Church Walk

Denny

I stumbled upon this riding down to Falkirk from Stirling in January.

Denny

Denny

The great concrete 1960s Church Walk blocks in Denny, Falkirk, officially Scotland's Most Dismal Town 2010.

Denny Church Walk

The townsfolk requested the honour, hoping that it would help to prod the council into action over their incongruous "carbuncle".

Denny

Denny

Denny

The first blocks had already been demolished by the time I discovered it; the rest have been smashed and chipped and shipped away over the past few months.

View Larger Map


[Tag] Tags: architecture, council housing, denny, falkirk, scotland, structures, uk, urban decay, urban


Fri, 1 Jun 2012

Kilve and Lilstock Beach

Kilve beach

Where the Quantock Hills AONB meets the Bristol Channel on the West Somerset coast.

Kilve

Kilve

And the waves from the Atlantic wash away the silt of the river estuaries and undercut the shale cliffs.

Lilstock Beach

Leaving great intertidal platforms, sections through the Lilstock Formation of Jurassic and Triassic rocks, and revealing the fossils of ammonites and dinosaurs.

Kilve Church

engine house?

While ships pass up the channel to Bristol and South Wales, guided by the landmark church tower.

Kilve Church

Pictures from April 2008. More in the Somerset gallery.

View Larger MapOrdnance Survey Map


[Tag] Tags: bristol channel, churches, coastal, kilve, rural, somerset, uk, west somerset, westcountry


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