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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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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, 6 Jan 2013

Edge of the Vale


In the summer I spent a few evenings and early mornings shooting the hills surrounding the valley of the River Stour the Blackmore Vale in North Dorset and South Somerset.

Blackmore Vale

Melbury Abbas

For much of the year, the clay and low limestone ridges of Thomas Hardy's vale of little dairies provide little to keep a landscape photographer occupied for long.

from Okeford Hill

But in the golden hour light, the steep scarp slopes of the chalk downs to the south and east can. The Dorset Downs in the Dorset Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and Cranborne Chase in the Cranborne Chase and West Wiltshire Downs AONB all part of the extensive chalk formation that forms much of the upland and sea cliffs of southern England provide promontories, like Bulbarrow and Fontmell, and islands in the vale, like Hambledon and Duncliffe.

on Bulbarrow

Park Walk

And the more gently rising limestone that divides the Stour flowing south east to the English Channel from the Yeo, flowing north west to the Bristol Channel, dropping in its own scarp into the Somerset Levels, with its own peninsulas and islands at Corton Beacon and Cadbury Castle.

On Corton Hill

Sunrise at Corton Beacon

Melbury Hill

Train at Buckhorn Weston

Sydling Valley

Blackmore Vale

on Bulbarrow

Dorset Downs


Dorset Downs


Fontmell Down

Blackmore Vale

These photos all taken in August and September 2012, but more can be found in the Dorset gallery.

[Tag] Tags: blackmore vale, dorset, downland, rural, somerset, uk, westcountry

Sun, 26 Aug 2012

The dismal town of Yeovil

Glovers Walk

It's difficult to find a nice thing to say about Yeovil, the nearest proper town to where I grew up.



But I could go on at length about the awfulness of it. The miserable generic shopping precincts with a skin of decaying and derelict buildings...


...trapped inside a fortress of traffic crashing through the town centre...




...on dual carriageways with municipal flower arrangements draped over central reservation guardrails.


I don't think I've ever found anything there with any great character, any beauty, any real kind of life, only boxes speeding through from roundabout to roundabout, cutting the town into perfectly isolated chunks of bland housing and bland light industry, no interest or activity amongst it.



Sorting Office



Yeovil Cattle Market

I was given some driving lessons there once and, though I quickly stopped them, I think they left me permanently with a Pavlovian response to getting in a car: there is always a fear that I will end up in Yeovil.

Yeovil Livestock Market

I know, it's just a dismal small town, they're not uncommon. But the west country is fortunate to mostly escape them, and there are none so dismal as Yeovil in this part of Britain.


Yeovil Hospital




cattle market










[Tag] Tags: crap towns, flowers on dual carriageways, somerset, uk, urban decay, urban, westcountry, yeovil

Fri, 1 Jun 2012

Kilve and Lilstock Beach

Kilve 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.

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

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

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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.
  • Fiction blog! Where I make stuff up, coming soon...
  • 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.

Follow them all here.

Find me here...

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.