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


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Tue, 5 Jun 2012

Denny Church Walk

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

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

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

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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

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

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

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

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

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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


Sun, 20 May 2012

On Snowdon

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Some shots from Britain's busiest mountain, and the highest in Wales, mostly from an ascent in June 2009.

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It's not just that Snowdon is busy with tourists hiking on the several ascent paths. Far more visibly than many of Britain's highlands, it's a very developed and exploited landscape — and not just in terms of the mountain having a railway all the way to the top, where you can take in the view from inside a coffee shop.

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The mountainsides around here are strewn with the ruins and remains of industrial workings: quarries and mines, and the railways that took the region's rocks away.

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If indeed the mountainsides even still exist: across the Llanberis Pass, the view of Snowdon's neighbour Elidir Fawr is dominated by the 700 acre Dinorwic quarry, closed since 1969 but still an open wound.

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Not necessarily a bad thing. From this distance in time, much of the industry and development adds interest to the landscape. And I don't suppose Welsh would have wanted to preserve their Highlands if the only method on offer was that by which the Scottish Highlands escaped development.

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View LargerOrdanance Survey Map


[Tag] Tags: industrial, mountains, railways, rural, snowdon, snowdonia, uk, wales


Sun, 13 May 2012

Skiddaw from the shores of Derwent Water

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This is another one of those views I seem to keep returning to.

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With attempts from the summers of 2007 and '08, the spring of '09 and winter '10.

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The distinctive blunted heaps of England's fourth highest mountain, Skiddaw...

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...reflected in Derwent Water.

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The same view that appealed to and was exaggerated by the Romantic landscape artists.

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One day I might even get around to climbing to the top and taking one looking the other way...

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[Tag] Tags: cumbria, lake district, lakes, mountains, national parks, rural, the north, time series, uk


Sun, 29 Apr 2012

Courthill House

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Heading up the coast of the Northwest Highlands, on the road from Kyle of Lochalsh to Applecross and Torridon, a brief glimpse of the mountains of Skye down the length of Loch Kishorn is soon hidden behind the trees and a high wall of big stone blocks.

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Chimneys poke their stacks out above the wall but it's not obvious what hides in the tangle of trees.

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It's only if you turn off onto the little track past Courthill Chapel and push through the junk and young trees that have accumulated and established themselves on this long uncared-for plot that you might find Courthill House.

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The Tudor-style mansion was built as part of the Lochcarron Estate in the early 1800s, and was purchased with the estate in 1882 by the Tory MP for Hastings (and later Coventry) Charles James Murray.

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Murray's son built a new mansion, Couldoran House, on the estate, and after Murray Sr's death in 1929 Courthill House fell into disuse. When the estate changed hands in 1946 the roof of Courthill House was removed to avoid tax, leaving a spooky hidden ruin.

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View Larger View Bird's Eye Google Maps Version


[Tag] Tags: abandoned places and things, architecture, highlands, history, northwest highlands, rosshire, ruins, rural decay, rural, scotland, uk, wester ross


Mon, 5 Mar 2012

Brunel Locks

There are some places I keep taking pictures of again and again, building up a time series through the changing of seasons and urban renewal. Not necessarily deliberately, but just because I happen to pass that way regularly.

Spring 2004

Spring 2004

One of the earliest of those time series was at the Clifton Suspension Bridge, looking south at the Brunel Locks.

Winter 2004

Winter 2004

Brunel Locks is where Bristol's Floating Harbour flows out into the tidal River Avon. Bridged by the ridiculous 1960s flyovers of the Brunel Way junction, and with the wonderful backdrop of Ashton Vale's three landmark tobacco bonds.

Winter 2006

Winter 2006

It must be time I went back for the 2012 view.

Spring 2007

Spring 2007

More pictures in the Floating Harbour gallery.


View Larger Map

[Tag] Tags: bristol, floating harbour, river avon, time series, uk, urban, westcountry


Thu, 16 Feb 2012

Edinburgh Castle

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I don't go inside tourist attractions of the historic house and castle variety all that often. The occasional objects of interest on display aren't usually worth the effort of wading through the endless antique chair arrangements and the endless lists of lords who have sat in the antique chairs.

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Edinburgh Castle has a little of that. The Honours of Scotland (crown jewels), for example, are laid out in display cases on velvet cushions, if you're excited by that sort of thing. But it has something else, too: a fantastic situation.

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The Castle Rock is a volcanic plug, left standing after the ice age, when glaciers cleared the weaker rock from around it. The hill has been inhabited for almost two millennia, with the Castle first developing a thousand years ago and Edinburgh Old Town following on the "tail" of the hill.

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And that now contributes to Edinburgh having one of the nicest skylines and cityscapes of any British city.


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More photos in the Edinburgh gallery.


[Tag] Tags: architecture, castles, cityscapes, edinburgh castle, edinburgh, history, scotland, uk, urban


Sat, 11 Feb 2012

Cwmorthin

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Cwmorthin is one of the many huge disused slate quarries and mines around Blaenau Ffestiniog in Snowdonia, a mile walk up into the Moelwyn Mountains from the town and station.

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Most of the workings are underground, in the many miles of mine tunnels that climb and descend inside the mountain, some of them still open to cavers, others now damaged by the attempts to use explosives to aid the extraction of slate in the quarry's final working years in the 1990s.

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But there's still lots to see above ground, around the portals beside the lake, Llyn Cwmorthin.

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In addition to the huge spoil heaps, which send tentacles reaching out into the lake, the quarrymaster's house is intact, but boarded up and getting scruffy. But the quarrymen's barracks, whose residents had a life expectancy of 44 years, have been in ruins for several decades.

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These photos were all taken early one May morning. There's a lot more industrial archaeology in the Cwmorthin valley that I didn't get to see that time I must go back.

View Larger Map Ordnance Survey Map


[Tag] Tags: abandoned places and things, blaenau ffestiniog, cwmorthin, history, industrial archaeology, industrial, moelwyn mountains, mountains, north wales, quarries, ruins, rural decay, rural, snowdonia, uk, wales


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