Autumn Tramp Over Chevin

Pleased to finally have got round to this! This is a mini project, I'd wanted to do for a while. It's a series of still photos taken and put together in sequence as a film. The photos document a walk through a woodland area of the Chevin, Otley. The key aim of the work is to celebrate the colours, as well as my spellbound, clumsy movements through the space... Here are some of my favourite stills...

Golden Hour at Golden Acre

Railway Garden at Golden Acre Park I love Golden Acre Park. It has literally everything a photographer could want! It is crammed with subject matter, with inspiration to be found around every corner. With the Golden Acre Park Photo Walk coming up this Saturday, I recently headed over to check on the route. The problem was, I didn't make it past the cafe! Continue reading Golden Hour at Golden Acre

The Dark & The Light of Kirkstall Abbey

Light picking out the lines on the Abbey's pillars Everyone has their own ways of releasing life's unwanted pressures. For some it's going for a run, while others may watch a film, meet friends or get absorbed in a new computer game. For me it's having a number of different locations I can escape to and get lost in.  When we lived in Leeds, Kirkstall Abbey was a particular favourite spot to do just this. So I was surprised that it took three years and a move to Burley in Wharfedale before I took my parents there.   Continue reading The Dark & The Light of Kirkstall Abbey

Harewood House and its pesky Heron

Portrait of heron Easter Weekend  sees Harewood House open its gates for the first time this year. News of the reopening prompted me to revisit some photos from our initial visit to Leeds' most celebrated heritage site. The photographs have been collecting cyber-dust in a neglected corner of my laptop for a good few years now, so it was a good excuse to give them a good polish and share them here... Continue reading Harewood House and its pesky Heron

Walking Photographer Leeds Project, Residency & Exhibition

Untitled (22 Walks Through Leeds at f22) exhibition flyer for Arts @ Trinity Yesterday we finished installing my exhibition of works from the project 'Untitled (22 Walks Through Leeds at f22)' at Trinity Church for part of my Arts @ Trinity residency. Continue reading Walking Photographer Leeds Project, Residency & Exhibition

A Sheepish Walk to Harewood

Luscious green leaves on silver grey trees It was a sunny bank holiday Sunday and our only obligation for the day was a BBQ in the early evening. Having wanted to check out Harewood House for quite some time, this the perfect opportunity. Encouraged by a discount for people arriving on foot we decided to walk. Parking in Bramhope we started our Harewood House walk. The walk begins on Breary Lane East, which possesses an eclectic mix of houses, all of which seem to have no linking characteristics other than that they all look like they cost a rather large amount of money! After walking through several large fields with enough sheep to send the hardiest insomniac to the land of nod, we reached a point where we could either continue onto Harewood or make a detour via Eccup Reservoir. I'd heard rumours on twitter that Eccup was a bit of a wildlife hotspot and the fact that we were sandwiched between two large walking groups (clearly taking the direct route to Harewood) made the decision that much easier! When we made it to the reservoir we realised walking round it and making it to Harewood House may be a little too ambitious, so we settled with sitting on the reservoir wall eating our Branston pickle and roast chicken sandwiches before getting back on track to Harewood. For those unfamiliar with the area of Harewood (near Leeds), the Harewood Estate is (to me at least) mahoosive! The grounds (and house) have been in the Lascelles family since it's completion in 1771. The landscape within its expansive borders is both vast and diverse, with many views looking like they've been copied and pasted straight from a Constable painting! Lancelot ""Capability" Brown is the man to take much of the credit (not to mention the contemporary grounds staff, who I'm sure should take a good slice of credit too!) for the stunning scenery. Brown designed these grounds that have undoubtedly influenced many artists including Thomas Girtin. It's a funny realisation that something we now consider to be so natural is, in fact, very manufactured! We appeared to arrive tantalisingly close to the house, yet couldn't find an entrance! It seems (as far as we could tell) you can only enter through the main entrance, which is accessed via the main road. By the time we had walked the boundaries and made it into the village of Harewood we had missed the last entrance to the house. Inevitably, armed with this knowledge, we simply went into the first pub we came across! After a refreshing pint and packet of roasted peanuts in the Harewood Arms Hotel we headed back to Bramhope; via the direct route! By the time we made it back to the car the BBQ was in full swing, and by the time we made it home we were very tired, hungry and feeling particularly unsociable. We opted for some hot food and some bottles of Ilkley Pale on the sofa while watching Swedish crime drama on the internet! While you could be tempted to label this walk a failure, not achieving any of our aims and then missing our only social commitment of the day, it was still a very memorable and enjoyable walk. A pub was frequented, beer and bar snacks were consumed which for many (myself included) constitutes a successful outing! Some people may also be interested to know that on this walk we passed by the set of Emmerdale which lies within the Harewood Estate. The route offers great views of Red Kites who were (introduced to Harewood as part of a very successful conservation initiative). Other wildlife highlights included a Yellow Hammer and spotting two hares bathing in the sun near Weardley. (I know, awesome name for a small village!)

BBQ Season…

Chevin forest Park, Otley, yorkhire, landscape photograph This week has started to show promise that the snow may have finally retreated and some warmer weather might just be around the corner! Such times, (much like the sprouting of bluebells and the arrival of swallows,) are typically marked by overzealous Fathers reaching for a pair of shorts and optimistic shops filling their shelves with BBQ kits. The excitement got to us too though and we headed up to Chevin Forest Park, Otley for a beautiful evening walk. The light was gorgeous and the woodland bursting with bird song. We caught sight of two courting nuthatches which was a particular highlight; but the sunset really stole the show!

Sticks and Stones, Oh… and Some Sheep!

sheep overlooking ilkley, ilkley moor Sounding like something out of a good Indiana Jones movie (when Harrison Ford was the young one)... A hunt for the 'Swastika Stone' on Ilkley moor seemed like the perfect Sunday adventure for a couple of  lazy morning ramblers. The Swastika stone is thought to be either Bronze age (like many other stones found in the area) or Iron Age and there's some ambiguity over the stone's meaning too, although in a number of ancient civilizations similar designs are thought to relate to the sun. The stone is located a relatively short walk west of White Wells Spa Cottage, which has had accessible baths since 1703, was instrumental in giving Ilkley its Spa town status and has reported visits from the likes of Charles Darwin. The stones are such a short walk from here (a couple of miles I'd guess),  we decided to extend our walk. I say 'stones' because there are in fact two Swastika stones. One is a Victorian replica which actually helps pick out the pattern of the considerably fainter original sat just behind. Our walk continued past the stones, past Panorama Reservoir and onto Hardwick House farm, where I got momentarily obsessed with some very photogenic sheep! From the farm we walked down until we reached the River Wharfe where we followed the Dales Way back into Ilkley town centre. Nature on the walk included numerous encounters with curlews and red grouse, which seem to occur on many of our Yorkshire walks, and we also caught sight of a tree creeper. We finished the day at the Cow and Calf Hotel with an enjoyable pint of Leeds Pale Ale but  before making our ascent to the watering hole we stopped off to refuel. The Vintage Tea Room on Wells Road is an original, friendly and very well done tea room with irresistible homemade cakes and a list of speciality teas longer than my photography equipment wish list (which is larger than a News International legal bill!). A cream tea for two was just what was needed to make the final steps on our Ilkley walk!  

Perils of Coffee

Country road, walk, burley in wharfedale, west yorkshire If you're anything like me, you'll know just how dangerous 'popping out' for a coffee is. My most recent coffee excursion led to a browse around Waterstone's (or Waterstones as I believe they are re-branding themselves). Anyway this 'browse' led to the purchase of £30 worth of OS maps and a rather cool book on Yorkshire Dales walks. No wonder I got an espresso maker for my birthday! The following morning I woke up like it was Christmas, all excited about doing a new walk in the Dales from our new book, using my new OS map. Caroline was more like the parent at Christmas, who would like just five more minutes in bed and wishes the kids would go and quietly entertain themselves with their new pressies. Anyway a quick wash, a round of toast that barely touches the sides and we were off! Or so we thought. It seemed the car didn't share our enthusiasm for the Yorkshire Dales, so 10 minutes into our journey we had to turn back and book the car in for a check up. Luckily due to my premature, or arguably immature, overexcitement it was still relatively early. Remembering that we had been given an AA Walks Around Leeds and West Yorkshire book for Christmas we started hunting through the walk cards looking for a walk that was relatively accessible on public transport. We found one that started and finished at Burley in Wharfedale train station. The walk begins on Hag Farm Lane leading up to and through the farm, over some fields that offer the residing sheep lush panoramas and on through a variety of gates that remind you that you still haven’t burnt off as many of those festive calories as you would have liked. The highlight of the walk is Burley Moor. This relatively busy heath provides some great views, even on a hazy winter’s day (is that a Simon and Garfunkel song?) with low thin cloud you could still take in the sights. We took a moment as we crossed the moor to take in the scenery. There were plenty of different paths that offered interesting diversions and investigations. Pretty soon the moor quietened down as people went off exploring their own routes. We came across a beautiful icy stream cutting its way through the hillside, which was particularly fascinating. The walk then took us back onto a B road and a country lane, and then over some pretty lowland fields that we’d previously been looking down on.  We eventually ended back amongst some pretty impressive houses that surround Burley in Wharfedale station. This was a very enjoyable walk, not too short and not too long with some lovely scenery and a good mix of terrain. Typically my keenness to photograph EVERYTHING meant we missed the hourly train by 5 or 10… But with every cloud… Rather with every missed train there is usually a good pub and Burley in Wharfedale is no exception, we headed into the village where we went to the friendly Red Lion Hotel for a pint of Midnight Bell from Leeds Brewery while resisting the mouth-watering specials on the board! A wonderful end to a day that began rather ominously.    

Tax Relief at Kirkstall

Kirkstal Abbey, leeds, yorkshire, abbey, ruin And so it happens every year, that familiar feeling of anxiety, so far removed from just a few weeks ago. With a sharp intake of breath I hit submit on the HMRC self assessment form and utter a quick prayer. A rush of doubt and worry floods in momentarily, followed by annoyance. I decide to go out for a quick walk before Caroline got home. Kirkstall is a 15 minute drive away, and I had only ever passed through, so I jumped in the car and set off. Parking in Kirkstall Abbey Walk, I went for a quick stroll around the ruins. The Abbey was founded around 1152 and occupied by self-sufficient monks and nuns (Cistercians), later to be disestablished by Henry VIII. It was also a popular subject for many painters including JMW Turner. The eclectic range of structures that play home to a large number of birds are pretty impressive. Although skeletal, the ruins retain enough form to make it easy to imagine the Abbey in all its glory some 800 years ago. Having wandered through the Abbey ruins I went for a very short stroll along the river Aire that runs alongside. I was struck by the stillness of this section of the river as it approaches a weir. The river bank stroll felt very similar to my amble round the abbey; while there were elements of unquestionable intrigue and beauty, they were slightly marred by the actions of visitors who possibly feel little attachment to the area, leaving obvious signs of disrespect. Not that this would put me off a revisit, it just made me wonder what could make people feel so disconnected from this environment. Not long after and it was time to go home, get dinner on and pour myself a glass of Hob Goblin (Wychwood brewery) and I realised that all thoughts of the evil self assessment had drifted away.