Slater's bridge and Cathedral Cave, Little Langdale, the Lake District, August 2023

Our holiday base was at Lowfield House in Little Langdale. Arguably, this spot is the heart of the Lake District and is the starting point for several walks. Slater’s bridge and Cathedral Cave are both accessible in a short 45 minute walk from Lowfield House. Setting off from the house we walked past the Three Shires Pub, down a country lane and then over the fields. We quickly reached Slater’s bridge which crosses over the river Brathay. Here the river is more peaceful than Colwith Force further downstream. This bridge is made entirely of slate and dates back to the 17th Century. With the back drop of the valley and the fells on either side, this packhorse bridge was built by miners to transport materials from the nearby mines. Several pictures were taken around the bridge before we headed off to the mines.

Slater's bridge and Cathedral Cave, Little Langdale, the Lake District, August 2023
Slater’s bridge showing the walker’s path up to Little Langdale.
Slater's bridge and Cathedral Cave, Little Langdale, the Lake District, August 2023
Another view of this wonderful packhorse bridge.
Slater's bridge and Cathedral Cave, Little Langdale, the Lake District, August 2023
A picture apportunity on the bridge.

We approached the slate queries where Cathedral Cave is located and missed the accessible entrance. Instead we moved up to the higher ground finding the entrance to the top gallery that looks down on the large chamber. My daughters were not impressed with my photographer’s instinct to get the best view possible. I was not allowed near the edge which was a sheer drop down into the cave. However, I still managed some good pictures of the cave from the rock gallery.

Slater's bridge and Cathedral Cave, Little Langdale, the Lake District, August 2023
Entering into the upper part of the cave.
Slater's bridge and Cathedral Cave, Little Langdale, the Lake District, August 2023
Jim shines a light in the top gallery with the larger cave behind.
Slater's bridge and Cathedral Cave, Little Langdale, the Lake District, August 2023
Rob and Natasha with the beautiful view behind them.

We explored outside looking for the entrance to the chamber. There appeared to be a precarious entrance along the rim of the quarry but after watching some walkers finding the descent difficult in the damp conditions we decided not to follow. I was a little despondent as I would have loved to have found the cave. As Sian and I walked back in front of the others, we found the entrance to the Cave. I should correct myself and say that Sian found the entrance. The group was excited as we entered into the chamber.

Slater's bridge and Cathedral Cave, Little Langdale, the Lake District, August 2023
People passing through the cave provide an estimation of scale.
Slater's bridge and Cathedral Cave, Little Langdale, the Lake District, August 2023
The central cylinder of slate with other rock deposits reflected in the water within the cave.

I was so pleased to visit the Cathedral Cave. The impressive chamber is very atmospheric with the open window in the wall allowing light into the cave. There is a large slate cylinder that appears to be supporting the ceiling. The pool of water to the back of the cave provides many reflections allowing one to appreciate the grand space of the cavern. Needless to say, I, like many photographers who visit this place, just wanted to take lots of pictures. I hope you enjoy the journey through the series of photographs that I have taken.

Slater's bridge and Cathedral Cave, Little Langdale, the Lake District, August 2023
Jim stands at the entrance to the cave.

On the way back we passed by a ford which would be fun to drive through if you had the right type of vehicle. We followed the path home but took a quick stop at the Three Shires Inn where I enjoyed a pint of my favourite beer named after the Old Man of Coniston. The pub is not of the same character as the Sun in Coniston and the only saving feature is the beer.

Slater's bridge and Cathedral Cave, Little Langdale, the Lake District, August 2023
The deep ford over the river Blathey

Postscript – We enjoyed the walk so much that we took the grandchildren along the same path. They so enjoyed the bridge and the visit to the cave. They will remember this visit for a long time in the future.

Slater's bridge and Cathedral Cave, Little Langdale, the Lake District, August 2023
Walking towards Slater’s Bridge
Slater's bridge and Cathedral Cave, Little Langdale, the Lake District, August 2023
Group photograph on the bridge.
Slater's bridge and Cathedral Cave, Little Langdale, the Lake District, August 2023
Performing in Cathedral Cave.

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Links to the complete series of my blogs around our visit to Little Langdale in the Lake District in August 2023.

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Brighton Beach fun

Brighton Beach fun

I was fortunate to visit Brighton as part of a conference. My hotel was on the seafront and in between…

Climbing the Old Man of Coniston, Lake District, August 2023

We always plan for countryside walks or mountain climbs for our family holidays. Whilst in Scotland, we climbed Ben Lomond and when in Hereford we travelled to the Welsh border to climb the Cats Back. In the Lakes there are many fells to choose. Initially we thought of Scarfell Pike, but then chose the Old Man of Coniston due to its close proximity to our holiday home (Lowfield House, Little Langdale). This lakeland fell is an old favourite of mine and there are well marked climbing paths to the top. I have done the easier route twice that passes by Goat’s water. We decided to take the direct route that leaves Walna Scar car park taking walkers through Coppermines valley and past Low Water to the north of the mountain.

Climbing the Old Man of Coniston, Lake District, August 2023
The early stages of the climb with Natasha and Rob. Lake Coniston is in the background.
Climbing the Old Man of Coniston, Lake District, August 2023
The weather was poor at the start but the sun is breaking through.
Climbing the Old Man of Coniston, Lake District, August 2023
Dramatic views start to appear as you ascend the mountain.

We set off in driving rain and were getting seriously wet when luckily the weather broke as we reached the Copper Mines. The industrial remnants of the slate quarries and copper mines are now a conversation area. The place is fascinating and lends itself to several photographic opportunities. There are large copper cables to climb over or duck under. The slate miners must have been very hardy workers. I found an article on what life must have been like living and working around Coniston. Whilst on a good day the views are impressive, I would not want to be here during inclement weather. The mines provided a great backdrop for photographs with the mountains in the background.

Climbing the Old Man of Coniston, Lake District, August 2023
Tram tracks at the mine provide leading lines to the view.
Climbing the Old Man of Coniston, Lake District, August 2023
Remains of old industrial equipment.
Climbing the Old Man of Coniston, Lake District, August 2023
More industrial remnants.
Climbing the Old Man of Coniston, Lake District, August 2023
Pulleys used to put the trams
Climbing the Old Man of Coniston, Lake District, August 2023
A welcome rest for Jim, Sian and Rob.
Climbing the Old Man of Coniston, Lake District, August 2023
Slates with a view

Our next stop was the picturesque tarn of Low Water where we saw the cloud line that we would be entering as we continued the climb. The final push to the top was gruelling with the rocks wet and slippery. The path became indistinct in places.

Climbing the Old Man of Coniston, Lake District, August 2023
Jim poses at Low water tarn.

Despite the misty conditions, we reached the top and had a selfie picture by the slate tarn. I brought all my big camera equipment except for the remote release button. The wind was strong and kept knocking the camera and travel tripod over. Luckily a fellow walker was at hand to steady the camera and push the button. Visibility was poor and we decided the best course of action was to go down the way we came up. We quickly came out of the cloud and the views over Lake Coniston appeared before us.

Climbing the Old Man of Coniston, Lake District, August 2023
We reached the summit. Congratulations.
Climbing the Old Man of Coniston, Lake District, August 2023
Return to the mines on the way down.
Climbing the Old Man of Coniston, Lake District, August 2023
One of the climbers we met on the route down.
Climbing the Old Man of Coniston, Lake District, August 2023
Mines and slates.

We did the Old Man in 3 hours 15 minutes which we considered a good time for our climb. We drove down into Coniston. The place to rest and catch up with food and drink is the well known Sun pub. The Sun “above” Coniston, as it is also known, is both warm and welcoming with excellent food and beer. The inside bar area has lots of character including a fireplace were we were able to dry out in front of the fire. Then we settled down to talk about the climb, look at the pictures and enjoy a hearty meal. A visit to the Lakes is not complete without climbing one of the fells and reminiscing on your adventures in the pub.

Climbing the Old Man of Coniston, Lake District, August 2023
The Sun above Coniston.
Climbing the Old Man of Coniston, Lake District, August 2023
The cosy interior of the Sun.
Climbing the Old Man of Coniston, Lake District, August 2023
A ploughman’s lunch washed down with the local beer.

Many thanks for the company of my fellow family climbers Natasha, Sian, Rob and Jim.

________

Links to the complete series of my blogs around our visit to Little Langdale in the Lake District in August 2023.

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Brighton Beach fun

Brighton Beach fun

I was fortunate to visit Brighton as part of a conference. My hotel was on the seafront and in between…

Walking in Digbeth, Floodgate St, January, 2023

“Walking after you” is a line from an old CCS song called Walking that was released in 1971. The band CCS was led by Alexis Korner and was my introduction into blues music. The song mirrors my photography as I walk along the streets of Digbeth. Arriving early on a January morning before 8am, the street lights were still on in Floodgate street and there were not many distracting cars around. I quickly got out and started taking pictures. In my excitement, I did not get the right focus on my Fujifilm x100v but my iPhone came to the rescue. The opening picture caught the reflections in a large puddle formed from the overnight rain. This is a classic view of Floodgate Street and one that fortuitously worked very well. It did not need much processing and the cropping was critical to remove lettering and stray reflections.

Walking in Digbeth, Gibb St, January, 2023
Gibb St provides many photographic opportunities plus reflectionshots.

Having parked my car in Selfridges multi story, I wandered back to Digbeth as I had time before my morning appointment in town. I used my x100v exclusively for the majority of the pictures. The streets were shiny as the rain had been heavy the previous morning. Puddles were grouped along Gibb Street and Floodgate Street providing more photographic opportunities. My visit included a wander to the edge of Deritend to see the sunrise and then back down Upper Trinity Street which completed my trip around of the area.

Walking in Digbeth, just off Floodgate St, January, 2023
Mind where you park

Constant change is synominous with the area. Shops have changed hands, new restaurants and night clubs have sprung up. There is new Street Art and old graffiti has to survive the constant mindless tagging that takes place. Around there are new building projects and Digbeth High Street is still scarred with tram works although one lane is open for traffic.

Walking in Digbeth, Gibb St, January, 2023
Street Art, arches, lamposts and people, all add to the photographic mix.

For street photographers, there is a constant stream of scenes forming in front of your eyes and most of the inhabitants seem resigned to being photographed as it goes hand in hand with living in such a creative district. Walking after you is my theme and we have several people set against the backdrop of the Digbeth buildings. There are also pictures of the latest street art on the different buildings. The street mural highlighting Parkinson’s disease was previously advertising Peaky Blinders. This wall next to the High Street has become a sought after location.

Parkinson's Disease Mural, Deritend, Birmingham, January 2023.
Parkinson’s Disease Mural.

There are more pictures below taken during my visit to Digbeth. At the end, I have put links to several of my past Digbeth blogs for further reading.

Walking in Digbeth, Floodgate St, January, 2023
Another view of Floodgate Street with the Floodgate on the left.

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Welcome to Digbeth, Birmingham, January 2023
Welcome to Digbeth

Looking back through my blog, I found that I have an extensive collection of pictures that feature Digbeth. This includes a few more pictures of Floodgate St and Gibb St as well. Please feel free to browse through my pages and comment on what you see and read.

Stay Safe from a canal boat window

This is the first post of the first day of Lockdown £3. For Lockdown #1, it was new and we all stayed at home. We came out of that Lockdown and summer drove the virus underground but it was still around. Lockdown #3 was called when the devastating extent of the virus re-emergence became known. During Lockdown #2, I was working so I stopped off in the city to do some daily exercise before moving onto Pebble Mill. This time I am not at work for the main part of the week and only do one day. Almost all of my work can be done from home. So in a similar way to Lockdown #1, it is a stay at home except for the one exercise a day.

Black Boy Marina
Black Boy Marina
A picturesque but empty Kings Arms Pub
A picturesque but empty Kings Arms Pub

With this Lockdown #3, I am looking for more imaginative walks from home. This time I walked along the canal down past Knowle locks with several of the boats displaying “stay safe” signs onto two of the canal side pubs, the Kings Arms and the Black Boy. (The latter pub name comes from the appearance of King Charles II who had a dark complexion). Both the pubs were closed and had a very empty look about them. Even in January the car parks would be full and people would be visiting. Nothing was happening.

Empty Black Boy pub
Empty Black Boy pub
Empty seats
Empty seats

There is a canal Marina between both pubs which was also very quiet. I did have a heron as company which is another story in itself. A strange day with a heavy presence around the canal. A solemn quietness hung in the air as the place seemed to know that this was the start of another Lockdown.

A colourful scene at Knowle Locks
A dramatic scene at Knowle Locks

The tow path was very muddy and difficult to negotiate but the canal boats had their log fires burning. The smell of the wood burning was pleasant to breath in as I returned the way I came and made my way home. When I got to the top lock at Knowle, there was a bright end to the day which lifted the spirits. There are going to be a lot more walks to do before this current Lockdown is over.

Changeable weather
Changeable weather with clouds, sunshine and reflections
The smell of wood burners as you pass the long boats
The smell of wood burners as you pass the long boats

Photo tip – Story telling always helps with your photography. This is about the lockdown and it has pictures of the rainbow and stay safe symbol in the window of one of the boats. We move onto the pubs which should have full carparks and people moving around but there is little happening. Therefore the story concentrates on the weather and the muddy journey with lovely skies.

This was the first day of Lockdown #3, here are my other first days of the previous lockdowns.
Lockdown #1 – Lockdown begins
Lockdown #2 – Birmingham Lockdown #2 – a photographic journey of the first morning

Follow my encounter with a Heron during this Lockdown #3 walk


Compton Verney

The last day of 2020 was a day of sunshine and I visited Compton Verney with my good friend John Bray. The grounds were open for visiting and the weather was perfect for photography. It was also perfect for having a good chat in the process of taking the pictures. The parkland has a circular route that takes in the North Park and through a small wood up to the Old Town Meadow. We also explored further beyond the Meadow up to Lighthorne Rd at the northern boundary of the park. It was muddy and heavy going in places but the rewards was some spectacular views of the House and the beautiful parkland designed by Capability Brown.

Sphinx Compton Verney
Sphinx on the ornamental bridge approaching the main house
The Parkland around Compton Verney
The Parkland around Compton Verney
Beautiful light and splendid colours in the landscape
Beautiful light and splendid colours in the landscape

The Old Town Meadow had artwork by Krijin de Koning. Green Dwelling is an intriguing collection of various boxes which is used to highlight the history of the land. The collections of multicoloured boxes (mainly green) offer many different interpretations but most of all they are fun to photograph.

Sculpture in the Old Town Meadow with Wreath
Sculpture in the Old Town Meadow with Wreath
Window to the Meadow
Window to the Meadow

The land around the house also houses artwork and the present sculpture on view is by Ariel Schlesinger and is named “Ways to say Goodbye”. It is a tree where the branches are carrying shards of broken glass. The tree is cast in aluminium and the shattered glass is in the branches reaching for the sky. It offers different interpretations to the viewer and the photographer.

Aluminium Tree with Shards of glass in the branches
Aluminium Tree with Shards of glass in the branches

This part of the grounds I love as I could go on and on taking photographs with the trees providing the framing of both the house and the lake. There was also a carpet of yellow flowers around the base of the trees that added a welcome splash of alternative colour to the area. The house had paintings in the windows which were following a Christmas theme. More importantly there was a shed offering coffee and a pastry which was much needed after all the walking.

Yellow path to the House
Yellow path to the House
Picture in the window
Picture in the window
Christmas themed picture in the window
Christmas themed picture in the window

Finally we explored the Ice House Coppice area. We bypassed the Ice House and went to the edge of the lake where there was a splendid Christmas tree. I did notice a whicker replica of a heron catching a fish and this had to be taken, It was my last day as a registered dentist and during lockdown I became involved with a Twitter group with the hashtag #dentistswithheron. If you read the article and follow the hashtag, then you may understand what I am talking about.

Christmas tree with house in the background
Christmas tree with house in the background
Heron catching a fish!

John and I ventured onto the main road so we could take a picture from the bridge looking onto the lake and the house. We captured some excellent views of the property and the lakes beyond Compton Verney.

View from the bridge on the main Road
View from the bridge and ferry on the main Road
View of the house over the Compton pool
View of the house over the Compton pool
Lovely reflections over the pool
Lovely reflections over the pool

To end a successful visit one of the pictures that I took was featured by Shefali Oza on BBC Midlands Today weather picture.

My picture featured on the BBC midlands weather bulletin
My picture featured on the BBC Midlands Today weather bulletin

The visit to the house and gardens made for ad fantastic end to a stressful and difficult 2020, here is hoping that 2021 will be a great year.

Tie a red ribbon around a tree (as you normally do!)
Tie a red ribbon around a tree (as you normally do!)

If you want to learn more about Compton Verney then please visit their web site that gives you all the information about visiting this beautiful property in the Warwickshire country side
Compton Verney Art Gallery and Park

I love Stratford-upon-Avon and have visited it many times over the years. There is so much to see including the beautiful walks around the River Avon, the Shakespeare properties and the pleasant shopping area of the town. I thought that I knew all about Stratford until this weekend, when my daughter and her family invited me for a walk around the Welcombe Hills.

Up to the Obelisk
Paths up the hill

I drove into Stratford from the A46 roundabout and then before the retail park turned left and made my way through a housing estate. I passed through some old gate markers and then up a road to a small car park. You do need local knowledge to find the place. You are then at a gateway to the start of a walk passing through spectacular scenery. Initially we walked along a field leading to a group of houses. One was of a mock castle design. We then passed into another field on our way to the obelisk. We passed the Welcombe hotel and climbed up to the obelisk. There were many runners out and about as well. From the top of the hill, there are commanding views of the Warwickshire countryside. The structure was erected in 1876 by Robert Needham Philips to honour his brother Mark Philips and further information and links to Shakespeare are documented on the web.

Map of the hills
Beautiful scenery and views

Following on from the obelisk, there is a walk over fields and there are many farm friends in them. We then passed through a wood where there were several tree houses probably made by scouts. We then made our way down over more fields admiring the views of Stratford upon Avon and picking out different structures. Eventually we came upon a fallen tree that my grandchildren love to call the broken tree and we stopped for a picnic. The tree had lots of different shapes and the bark provided a range of textures that proved a good vehicle to photograph.

We are watching you
Granddaughters hands on the tree bark
Broken trees

After that it was back to the car and a short journey to my daughter’s mother in law’s house for some well deserved bacon sandwiches and cake. If you are interested in following my footsteps then details of the Welcombe Hills is part of the Warwickshire Wildlife Trust.

Time for Sunday Brunch