Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Peak District Day 2 (Part 1)

My mellow mood from the evening before didn’t last long unfortunately, as I was kept awake yet again by another group of rowdy lowlifes.

So, rising early, after a disturbed night, I was pleased to see a silky brume of mist, skulking around on the valley floors. So I decided to head back to Higger Tor to see if I could get a good view of it from up there.

As it happens, the mist around there was pretty minimal, but the sunrise was spectacular. Plus, despite it being a Saturday, the place was still relatively empty, just a handful of people and only one other photographer.

I spent the next crisp few hours roaming around the rocks, getting shots of the valleys below, as the morning rays lazily cascaded down their verdant slopes, gradually filling them with ambrosial dawn light.

A selection of images taken as the run crested a small band of cloud that was laying across the horizon.

Looking across Higger Tor under some light cloud.
Impressive rocks bathed in the morning sun.
Looking along the edge towards Hope Valley below.
A view across to Carl Wark, with the 'KitKat' rocks in the foreground.

After around three hours, I found a comfortable, smooth granite seat, out of the wind and bathed in sun, set below one of the edges. I kicked off my shoes to take a breather, and watched as small, plump birds rose on the gusty air. Climbing to just above my eye line, before darting upwards, with a bustle of tiny movements, and away into the wide expanse of the valley beyond.

The warm sun and still air were a welcome relief from the incessant wind that had been badgering my damp clothes for most of the early morning. And with the chirruping of insects and cawing of distant crows as my soundtrack, I could have quite easily fallen into a peaceful sleep.

But thoughts of breakfast kept me from dozing off, and I was soon wandering back down towards the car, ready to embrace my bowl of fruit and fibre like a brother. Which, again, is practically unheard of.

I then headed west towards Winnats Pass, a magnificent road that travels up and between towering limestone pinnacles, and I was eager to give it a go. But, to no one’s surprise I managed to take the wrong road out of Castleton, and soon found myself at a dead end.

It was quite a scenic dead end, so I got out to have a look around. I soon found Odin Mine, an abandoned lead mine, that can trace its history back to the Roman times, and is now managed by the National Trust, as it pretty much everything in this area. I scampered up to the entrance and wandered in, but it soon started to get muddy, wet and lacking in head height very quickly, so I made my excuses and left.

I wasn’t in the mood to be crawling through slimy mud, on my hands and knees, in the dark. The good times would have to wait.

After a bit more exploration, I discovered, thanks to a signpost, I had taken the road to Mam Tor, or Mother Hill. Which also explained why there was a humongous hill rising up a few hundred yards away from me. Thank goodness for signposts.

I wasn’t about to climb its 517 metres, because it was by now, quite warm, and more importantly, I couldn’t be arsed. So I settled for trying to get a picture of a nice selection of trees attractively arranged on a pretty incline.

I messed about for ages trying to get a decent composition, and at the same time, waiting for the light to stop buggering about, but I just couldn’t get one I was happy with, so, with some regret, I moved on.

A couple of lonely trees stand proud from the surrounding landscape as it's dappled with sunlight.
A long exposure captures the clouds as they travel over the valley.
The flanks of Mam Tor house this single tree on its verdant slopes.

I took a few shots of the landscape, as it rolled away under a canopy of drifting cloud, before I happened to look behind me, and lo and behold, I saw a far better view of the scene I was trying to capture before, plus the light was perfect.

With something of a dismaying certainty, by the time I’d set up for a shot, the sun had been abducted by the rampaging clouds again, so I waited, and I waited, and I waited.

I probably spent far too long dallying around for this particular shot, but it was a point of principle, I wasn’t going to give up damn it! And I didn’t. The light did get its act together in the end, and thanks to my ponderous tarrying, I was there, ready to pounce, like a fluffy bunny onto a crisp leaf of lettuce. And the shot was bagged.

I think it was worth the wait. It's not what anyone would call amazing,
but I like the bucolic, comfortable feel it has.

Nothing holds me back when there is an image to be taken, like nature, I am red in tooth and claw. And to celebrate, I returned to the car and broke out my travel flask of coffee and an apple. I filled my cup to the brim, and was feeling particularly wild, as I sipped from my tiny beaker.

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