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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 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

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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.

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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.

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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."

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

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


Sun, 9 Mar 2014

Under the hills of Torridon

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There aren't many more stunning parts of the country than Torridon in Wester Ross on the coast of the Northwest Highlands.

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The steeply enclosed Glen Torridon, with its mountain river tumbling down from the Coulin Estate, and its mirror lochans like Lochan an Iasgair.

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Opening out to the sea loch, Loch Torridon, dotted with tiny fishing villages like Shieldaig and Diabaig and Torridon itself.

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Under the modestly named Torridon Hills; the long and slender Liathach and the silver-backed rocky Beinn Eighe.

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All standing above the rocky west coast.

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I should probably go back and climb some of the hills some day.

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[Tag] Tags: highlands, mountains, northwest highlands, rural, scotland, torridon hills, torridon, uk, wester ross


Sat, 1 Mar 2014

Lots Road Power Station

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Over the years, living and commuting in a variety of places, there have been objects and views that I've had the chance to shoot again and again, in all different lights and seasons. The current object, between my flat in Battersea and office in South Kensington, is Lots Road Power Station, allegedly known as the "Chelsea monster", across the Thames at the western end of Chelsea.

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Built in 1904 to power the new Brompton and Picadilly Circus Railway the Picadilly Line tube the coal-fired power station was converted to gas in the 1970s, losing two of its four chimneys. With air pollution regulations pushing power generation out of the city, the station finally closed in 2002, and is currently under renovation and redevelopment as shops and flats.

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[Tag] Tags: architecture, chelsea, industrial, london, lots road power station, the same photo again, uk, urban, west london


Sat, 7 Sep 2013

Autumn at Stourhead

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I'm not sure why it has taken so long to do a post for Stourhead, the impressive landscape gardens at the source of the River Stour in south west Wiltshire.

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I guess I was taken there so many times as a child that I've managed to avoid going back too many times since to take pictures.

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But with autumn fast approaching, when the arboretum of international specimens will be looking its best...

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...and the classical follies reflected in the lake will be framed in reds and golds...

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...I thought it might be time for it to feature on the blog.

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[Tag] Tags: gardens, lakes, national trust, rural, stourhead, uk, westcountry, wiltshire


Sun, 9 Jun 2013

Crossing the Moorfoot Hills

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From where it flows into the Tweed at Innerleithin, a solitary road runs up alongside the Leithen Water Abhainn Leitheinn, the grey river and is soon enclosed in perfect round and green hills.

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It twists and turns and climbs northwards through these, the Moorfoot Hills, treading a path between Whitehope Law and Windlestraw Law.

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Part of the Southern Uplands: a fine set of landscapes, but generally neglected by most outside of southern and central Scotland overshadowed by the more extreme geology of the Highlands, or by similar hill ranges in places more accessible from Britain's other centres of population.

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The road summits one valley and drops into the next.

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Passing the now neglected circular drystone sheep stells that for several centuries provided the livestock in the hills with winter shelter from wind and drifting snow.

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Then repeats the process, climbing again from this central valley of the Blackhope Water, a tributary of the Heriot, which cuts east through the hills.

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Past the windfarm on Peat Hill.

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Climbing high into the windswept moorland landscape.

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Before abruptly hitting the Esk Valley and the lowlands of Midlothian in a long straight steep scarp.

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View Larger Map


[Tag] Tags: hills, moorfoot hills, roads, rural, scotland, scottish borders, southern uplands, uk


Fri, 1 Feb 2013

Lesser of The Lakes

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Windermere is famous as the largest of The Lakes in the English Lake District, and in England generally. Its also famously a beautiful place, flanked by the high fells of Langdale and pretty villages like Ambleside, celebrated in verse and on canvas by the romantics, and loved by the millions of tourists who have poured in since the Kendal and Windermere railway first brought the lake within reach of the masses.

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After several visits to the more northern lakes and fells without ever having been along to Windermere, I thought I better go take a look and see what the fuss was about. So after a trip to Keswick I took the bus down to Ambleside, intending to walk along the shore to Bowness and up the hill to the station.

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But it turned out that a walk along the shore wasn't possible, because Windermere is crap and walking near it is forbidden.

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Perhaps I was just grumpy that day, but what could be seen of Windermere from beside the main road in the gaps between the trees and the dense forest of "keep out" signs didn't impress the way that Ullswater and Derwent Water do.

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View Larger Map


[Tag] Tags: crap places, cumbria, lake district, lakes, rural, uk, windermere


Sun, 13 Jan 2013

On the canals at Castlefield

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Until May 2011, when I had to go to a meeting in the city, I'd never been to Manchester. I've still spent barely any time there.

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With little time to devote to photography while there, I instinctively rode over to the part of the city centre that looked most interesting on the Ordnance Survey map: Castlefield.

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With the world's first industrial canal and the world's first passenger railway, the neighbourhood is a tangle of basins and viaducts and narrow cobbled pathways. The Bridgewater Canal arrived here from the Worsley coal field in 1761, and a second branch of the canal reached the Mersey estuary at Runcorn three years later. The opening of the Rochdale Canal through to West Yorkshire in 1804 put Castlefield on a through-route, and the basin was also connected to the nearby River Irwell later to be turned into the Manchester Ship Canal.

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In 1830 the canals were joined by the railways, with the world's first passenger line, the Liverpool and Manchester Railway, terminating at Liverpool Road Station (now the Museum of Science and Industry) adjacent to but not crossing the basins. The first two railway viaducts over the water came in 1849 with the Manchester South Junction & Altrincham Railway lines which fork here as they head west from Piccadilly. These lines were in turn crossed by even higher viaducts with 1877's Cheshire Lines into Manchester Central victims of the Beeching Axe, but reused in the early 1990s for the trams and the now disused turreted tubular steel Great Northern Railway viaduct of 1894.

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Now it's in the half-done regeneration stage, with mixed decayed and preserved industry, warehouse conversions, empty plots and infill apartment blocks.

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I think the instincts probably did a reasonable job.

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[Tag] Tags: canals, history, industrial, manchester, railways, the north, uk, urban decay, urban


Sun, 6 Jan 2013

Edge of the Vale

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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


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