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Snowdonia National Park

Snowdonia National Park is a wildly beautiful area of North Wales. Its vast number of peaks, lakes and quarries connected by trickling streams and rocky rivers create a photographer’s haven so it’s no wonder I love it! I first visited Snowdonia in 2013, and with my partner climbed the infamous Mount Snowdon. This spectacular mountain was our first stop in completing the three peaks (over the course of a year or so).

We took the Llanberis track, walking parallel to the mountain railway all the way to the summit. The scenery was stunning and thanks to the glorious sunshine, we were able to see for miles (I did, however, get sunburnt, even though it was extremely windy).

The track is reasonably steady, weaving around the mountain slowly but surely. It’s definitely suitable for beginners and offers spectacular views. The whole walk took us around 4 and a half hours to complete at a reasonably leisurely pace – with plenty of photography stops of course!

While in Llanberis, we stayed at The Royal Victoria Hotel, a little gem nestled within 30 acres of woodland and gardens. The room was perfect for a good night’s sleep after a long walk and there was plenty to see and do around the town. If you’re planning to climb Mount Snowdon, Llanberis is a great starting point and highly recommended.

As a keen landscape photographer, I will always remember my first trip to Snowdonia and because of its beauty, we have planned our next trip for the May Day bank holiday. This time we will spend a couple of nights in a farmhouse just outside of Bala. You’ll be able to read more about this trip once I’m back

 

blanket of heather on Edale, view from Losehill

Two Great Places to Visit in the Peak District.

The Peak District has some of the most stunning scenery in the Midlands. Wedged gently between Manchester, Sheffield and Derby it really is a true wonder to come across. It’s steep valley and rising hills make it a haven for anyone who enjoys spending a summer’s day walking through the English countryside. Edale, a small village in Hope Valley, marks the start of the 267-mile long Pennine way, stretching all the way up to Kirk Yetholm in the Scottish Borders. I’m not going to promise that I will cover this route anytime soon but I can imagine it provides some lovely scenery.

My first visit to the Peak District was in 2016. It’s a much shorter car journey than the one to the Lake District or Snowdonia and the walks are just as fantastic. I’ve put together a very short guide on two great places to visit while in the Peak District. I’ve only been a handful of times so this is by no means coverage of the two best places as there is still so much to explore but they are definitely a good place to start!

Castleton & Mam Tor

Castleton is a bubbly little village in the heart of the Hope Valley sitting in the shadow of the ruins of Peveril Castle. It’s full of great places to eat, quaint gift shops and spectacular walks. One of the most famous in the Peak District is the circular Mam Tor Ridge walk.

Starting in Castleton you walk west towards Winnat’s Pass a deep Limestone valley created after an old cave system collapsed. There is still evidence of these caves around the Pass including Speedwell Cavern that offers tours of the underworld.

You can climb the north side of Winnats pass and walk across the grasslands towards Mam Tor, also known as the shivering mountain, and the tallest hill in the High Peaks standing at 517m. Once at the top you are treated with spectacular views of Edale and the Hope Valley. The ridge takes you along the north side of Hope Valley towards Lose Hill and then you can drop back down into Castleton. It’s definitely one for the summer as the high ridge can get extremely windy! We visited at the end of August, just in time to see the blankets of heather that annually cover the fields.

Blue car travelling east through Winnats Pass

Flock of sheep on Mam Tor ridge

View of Hope Valley

Fence and path leading along Mam Tor Ridge

Path up to Losehill

blanket of heather on Edale, view from Losehill

Edale valley from lose hill

Padley’s Gorge & Stanage Edge

This circular walk starts at the Longshaw Estate, a National Trust property about 3 miles south-east of Hathersage. There’s easy parking and great walks around the estate if you don’t have a lot of time, it even boasts a lovely cafe if you need a pick-me-up. You can find out more about the Lodge here if you wish.

From the car park you can walk through the grounds of the Lodge and follow the path across the road to the Burbage Brook, this marks the start of Padley’s Gorge. Heading south through the trees you can follow the bank along the gorge down to Upper Padley. Turning left at the bottom of the trail will take you past the famous Totley Tunnel to the Gindleford Station Cafe if you need some refreshments.

Heading right will take you north along a trail past various cottages, churches and farmland. You may even see the beautiful cat we came across! We followed a route that took us north-east along the bottom of the Stanage Edge cliff. Taking the path to the top, we were faced with amazing views out towards Hathersage. There’s no coincidence that this place is also known as Surprise View.

We also visited Stanage Edge at the end of the summer when the heather was blooming across the moor creating a blanket of purple hugging the birch trees along the route.

autumn landscape shot of padley's gorge, peak district

fluffy cat and pair of legs

the view from stanage edge in winter.

birch trees behind a blanket of heather

Birch tree in heather

2017 was the year of the snow!

December saw England receive a lot of snow.

On Sunday 10th December, my partner was due back in the country after a 3-week trip away. On Sunday 10th December it snowed like never before (well at least more snow than I’ve seen in a good few years.) Since getting a car (almost 6 years ago) and moving out to the countryside nearly 2 years ago I’ve been longing for some decent snow to photograph. Mostly, we get a sprinkling overnight which has gone by the time I’ve finished work or had the chance to pick up my camera.

So after all this time it eventually snowed, on the day I was supposed to be driving to the airport.

After deliberating whether it was a good idea, I eventually set off with my mum’s partner who offered to drive me across the county to Birmingham. After over an hour of avoiding road closures, broken down vehicles and steep hills, we ended up back where we started – home.

It turns out my other half wasn’t in Birmingham after all, he was in Manchester.

Luckily, I managed to get a couple of phone shots while playing passenger in an extremely slow moving car!


So while the county was experiencing its first proper snow in the last 5 years, I spent the day trying to figure out how on earth Ross would get home. Eventually, at 4pm, we made it!

Luckily, the snow stuck around and on Monday 11th December I headed out into the fields to photograph the trees that had been waiting for me.

And a hare.



Happy with my shots I didn’t check the weather again as I’d captured the photographs I’d always wanted.

Come December 27th, we got another covering and I thought it was too good an opportunity to miss. Armed with my camera and a bright blue sky I managed to sneak in these shots before the warm weather melted it away.


I think we’ve had enough snow this winter, but if we get some more, I won’t complain!

 

I left my heart in Lanzarote.

After a long time waiting I was finally able to settle my travel excitement by hopping on a plane to Lanzarote. It was only a short 4 hour flight however, it felt like an eternity. All I wanted was to see some hot Canary Sun and take in another corner of the world.

This beautiful little island just 78 miles off the coast of Africa makes up part of the wonderful paradise of the canary islands. although windier than some of the other Spanish islands the all-year-round hot weather can draw a lot of attention.

With an abundance of wildlife coming into the shallow waters of Playa Blanca at Puerto del Carmen, there was plenty to do and see. Rocky landscapes, blue waters and sandy beaches were perfect for a bit of holiday photography. From sunrise to sunset and everything in between there was definitely plenty to get my teeth into.

The first few days on the wonderful island were filled with “100 things to do when it’s really windy on holiday”. Number one on the list: lie on the beach while sand blasts against your skin, giving you a free exfoliation. We were on our way to very smooth skin!

Once the wind had died down we booked ourselves onto a catamaran tour of Playa Blanca. I’ve never been on a catamaran before and it turns out when the waves start getting choppy you end up very very wet. They way down to Playa Blanca was fabulous. We had the fresh sea air billowing its way into our lungs, the great canary sun warming our skin and a large plate of Spanish paella to curb our appetite. It was heaven.

Once we anchored down, it took a while to decide whether our snorkels were going to have their fun. The sea was definitely cold.

We finally plucked up the courage to jump in and what a surprise. There were so many fish. It was truly amazing. Sadly, we hadn’t yet invested in an underwater camera so maybe next time I’ll capture some marine life. For now, the photographs are all above sea level.

The last few days were spent wandering around the town, buying tourist-focused gifts and eating ice-cream. We even had a go at the mini golf outside our hotel. Lanzarote provides such a laid-back way of life and Puerto del Carmen was the best place to have our first holiday. I’m so ready to travel again!

atlantic ocean crashing against lanzarote rocks

Playa Grande in Lanzarote looking back at Puerto del Carmen.

Rocky landscape in Lanarote.

Small coastal pathway leading between island villages.

landscape photograph of the Lanzarote coastline

Sunset in Lanzarote looking over the Atlantic.

Sunrise in Lanzarote looking over the Atlantic.

Sunrise in Lanzarote looking over the Atlantic.

Aeroplane wing in the sunset.

 

The Eynali Mountain Range, Tabriz

While staying in Tabriz, I was lucky enough to be situated in the Eram area, North of the city. From my balcony I could see the distinctive red sloped of the Eynali range, and couldn’t wait to climb the beautiful mountainside so I could look out over this wonderful city.

When we were finally blessed with a warm, sunny day (it had been cold and wet for a week or so!) we decided to start our voyage. From Eram, we climbed the steep slopes up to the main highway and then caught a taxi to the main tourist entrance of the range.

From here we could have caught the telecabin up to the summit, however, decided a short hike would be the best way to see the sights. It wasn’t long before we reach the top and it was definitely worth it.

The blue skies and red landscape were something more akin to another planet. I probably would have believed it if I was told I was on Mars. For the return journey to ground level, we took the famous telecabin ride, definitely not for the faint-hearted! We drifted along canyons and caverns taking in the most wonderful landscape.

If you ever get the chance to visit this beautiful city, go and experience Eynali for yourself, it’s not one to miss!

 

Dand, highest peak in the Eynali Range
Dand standing at 2,378m.

The Eynali cable car line looking over Tabriz
The Eynali cable car line looking over Tabriz.

Yellow perimeter fence contrasts against red rock and blue sky
Perimeter fence for the nature conservation area.

An old watch tower sits against a dark blue sky
An old watchtower.

Cable car suspended against a blue sky
Telecabin ride.

Looking out over the tabriz landscape from the Eynali mountain range
The view of Tabriz from the telecabin station.

winding road leading out into the Eynali mountains
A long, winding road through Eynali.

deep valley of red rock in the Eynali range
A deep valley of red rock in the Eynali range.

Rock formations on the way up Eynali
Rock formations on the way up Eynali.

The start of a travel sensation?

Travel is always something I have loved. The thought of exploring foreign lands, immersing myself in ancient cultures and experiencing incredible natural wonders, follows me every day and every night.

I recently had the opportunity to visit somewhere not many people would consider for their first adventure. Iran. The ancient Persian country has a lot of bad press but what people don’t understand is the media probably wants us to hate every country that isn’t England or America. To be fair they probably don’t want us to like ourselves either.

Anyhow, I decided a trip to Iran would be the best way to immerse myself in a culture unknown in the western world. They are a first world country with third world values. Family comes first, no matter what. Technology is great, but it doesn’t rule their lives as it does here. Boys and girls still play outside, teenagers enjoy studying for a better future and adults do everything they can to make sure their family, brothers, sisters, children and parents, have everything they need to be successful in life.

Responsibility of their children doesn’t disappear when they hit 18 and leave for university. Parents will provide for their children for as long as they can, regardless of their age, marriage status or job.

Similarly, children spend more time with their parents. Family doesn’t just mean your siblings. It means cousins, aunts, uncles, your parents cousins, their cousins and even their cousins. If you are introduced to someone, there is a line of relation connecting your friend and the person in front of you, even if you are in a different town, city or village.

Ok, so lets relate this back to my trip to Iran. I stayed with my partners family. While I was there I must have greeted over 100 family members, all of which my partner knew by name and easily gave me a brief outline of his connection to them. (This is my cousins, uncles, grandmothers, daughter). It was incredible to be amongst such a large and loving family.

Ross and Ali cooking BBQ in the Garden

The scenery in Iran, especially in Tabriz, is absolutely, incredibly out-of-this-world, amazingly, beautiful. I was in Iran for a little over three weeks and I cannot wait to go back! Keep checking back for my next few posts which will highlight even more beautiful areas in Iran such as Sahand, Dik Darak and The Colourful Mountains.

Have you ever seen such a thing?

“Until its discovery by Europeans in the early 1636, it was thought that all swans were white in colour.” (Ponnamperuma)

Well it goes without saying that yes, there really is such a thing as a black swan. Not just  movie title but an actual bird, cruising the lakes and waterways of Britain. Fortunately for me, I came across a pair of these stunning creatures this week. Whilst out trying to capture images of ‘reflections’, the theme posted by a local photographic page for the month, I ventured out towards a little village named Blatherwycke, just a few miles from my home. Sadly the morning sunshine had disappeared behind light cloud and the wonderful water reflections I was hoping for turned out to be less than average. However stumbling across these to beauties made the morning even more special.

 

black swans on lake in england

 

Ponnamperumahttp://panique.com.au/trishansoz/animals/black-swan.html

Winter Mornings

As much as I hate getting out of bed on cold, dark, winter mornings the award for doing so is always worth it. Once the covers are peeled back, the boots are on and my fingers are slowly freezing an opportunity arises and it is usually not one to miss. 

Last week, such a thing happened. I was out near my local church admiring the frosty white grass and golden sunshine when I met a lovely man. After a couple of minutes chatting we said our goodbyes, but not before asking if he would be the subject for a few photographs. Thank you for agreeing!