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[About me] About the author

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 protests rural rural decay scotland somerset structures the north uk urban urban decay wales westcountry all tags

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Sun, 11 May 2014

Uncanny Valley


On a small wooded peninsula where there estuaries of the Dwyryd and Glaslyn meet at Penrhyndeudraeth south of Porthmadog in the foothills of Snowdonia in the kingdom of Gwynedd, you can find the Uncanny Valley.







Portmeirion: the construction that looks just close enough to being a village as to be eerie, but just far enough from being a real village to inspire a slight feeling of revulsion.


Built by Sir Clough Williams-Ellis in something like the style of the fishing villages of the Italian Riviera, a cluster of hotel rooms disguised as slightly miniaturised houses scattered on the sides of a small valley above the estuary bay. "An artful and playful little modern village, designed as a whole and all of a piece ... a fantastic collection of architectural relics and impish modern fantasies."







The perfect location for filming surreal dramas like The Prisoner then.


[Tag] Tags: architecture, coastal, north wales, portmeirion, rural, tourist attractions, uk, villages, wales

Sun, 30 Sep 2012

At Abereiddy


Walking south along the coast path of St David's Head in the Pembrokeshire National Park, amongst the bays and headlands of rugged and ragged cliffs and worn-down volcanic hills, one lesser, lower, headland stands out for its clearly man-made feature.


The squat little tower of Abereiddy, standing on a headland that is barely still there, more hole than headland, where the Blue Lagoon has been carved out as part of the long lost local slate mining industry.


Standing sentinel over the little bay and beach, and the little street of houses behind.

More photos in the Pembrokeshire gallery

View Larger Map Ordnance Survey Map

[Tag] Tags: coastal, industrial, pembrokeshire, quarries, rural, uk, wales

Fri, 1 Jun 2012

Kilve and Lilstock Beach


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



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


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



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


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

Tue, 1 Mar 2011

Brean Down


A great limestone scarp runs the breadth of Somerset, the Mendip Hills, famous for their karst landscape the gorge at Cheddar and the caves at Wookey Hole.

Brean Down from Weston-super-Mare Brean Down from Hinkley

Where it meets the sea in the Bristol Channel, it takes the form of a 2km long peninsula beside the village of Brean, Brean Down, and 4km beyond that headland an island, Steep Holm.

View south

Brean Down stands 98m above the surrounding flat farmland and wetlands of the Somerset Levels, with views south to Brent Knoll, north over Weston-super-Mare bay, out over the Bristol channel to Wales and inland along the Mendip scarp.

Brean Down Brean Down

The Down was home to an iron-age hill fort and a Victorian coastal fort, later taken over for rocket and weapons research in the Second World War -- a large concrete arrow directed bombers to one of the test sites.

View Larger Map

These days its main claim to fame is as the site of the often-proposed-but-never-got-very-far Severn Barrage, which could in theory generate 5% of the UK's electricity.

Windswept Rowan

But at the moment it's home only to a few people walking around the rocks and windswept rowans.

Brean Beach Brean Beach

And a herd of National Trust goats.


Most of these were taken one day in february 2007. There are more photos under the Brean Down tag.

[Tag] Tags: brean down, brean, bristol channel, coastal, hills, rural, somerset, uk, westcountry

Sat, 26 Feb 2011

Helmsdale Harbour


In the winter, while I neglected to post on the blog, I spent some time out of the way to concentrate on work. Helmsdale in Sutherland was about as out of the way as I could find.

Washing Line Sea Wall

It's on the east coast in the far north of the Scottish Highlands, on the railway half way between Inverness and Thurso.


At the mouth of the Helmsdale River, otherwise known as River Ullie, which flows down the Strath of Kildonan (Strath Ullie) from Loch Badanloch.

Lobster Pots Street

It has a little harbour with big old breakwaters where the snow gathers and stays pristine until the stormy seas crash and overtop the walls.

Harbour Wall

Built in 1818 during the Highland clearances, when subsistence farmers were evicted by landlords who wanted to develop more profitable industries and agricultural practices on their estates.

Warning No Networking

The harbour was built to accommodate herring fleets, worked by the displaced farmers, and it was extended in 1823 and 1892, and refurbished in the last couple of years.


At one time the tiny port was home to 200 fishing boats, one of the largest herring fleets in Europe.

Footprints Harbour Wall

Now it's as much a tourist town as a fishing port, but a few boats remain, out every day, even in the darkest mid-winter.


More pictures in the Highlands gallery.

[Tag] Tags: coastal, harbours, helmsdale, highlands, history, rural, scotland, sea, snow, sutherland, uk, winter

Mon, 5 Apr 2010

From here to a promontory

The rocks that rebuilt London


were pulled from a distant limestone island

Pulpit Rock

where the wastes from once great quarries

Pulpit Rock

now give way to stormy seas


where the racing tides of the Shambles bank are kept safe and shipwreck free

Portland Bill

by Portland Bill.

A True Story.

More pictures in the Portland gallery...

[Tag] Tags: coastal, dorset, history, industry, jurassic coast, lighthouses, portland, rural, south coast, uk, westcountry

Page: 1

My other blog is a...
  • Science blog! A blog about cancer cell and molecular biology, coming soon...
  • Skepticism blog! I contribute to the group blog Lay Science on the nature of science, skepticism, and bad arguments.
  • Science publishing blog! It's called Journalology and it's a group blog about publishers, journals, papers and data.
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  • Cycling and transport policy blog! I run the group blog At War With The Motorist, where we look at evidence-based urban planning and transport policy, and ride bikes.

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Creative Commons License All text and photography on this site is Joe Dunckley 2001-10, except where stated otherwise. Text and photos are released under the terms of the Creative Commons BY-NC-SA license, meaning that you may reuse, remix, and republish the work for non-commercial purposes, on the condition that a credit is given to "Joe Dunckley/" and you make it clear that the work is released under this license. See this page for more detailed conditions. Contact me to enquire about commercial and editorial use.