Caroline Shipsey

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Photography Trip to Wales - Steve Lewis Workshop Day 2

Making the most of every possible opportunity, and being prepared for the unexpected is what makes photography so enjoyable. If I set off on a trip with just one objective in mind the chances are I'll be foiled - the most likely reason being the weather! However, it's not just about making photos, it's the whole experience that really matters.

Clee Hill Summit (Titterstone Clee) in Shropshire has drawn me every time I travel to Snowdonia, dominating the distant skyline for miles. This trip, despite the light being poor for any kind of landscape photography, I decided to take a look.

This is Wikipedia's description of the place:- Titterstone Clee is the third-highest hill in Shropshire, beaten only by the nearby Brown Clee Hill (540 m) and Stiperstones (536 m). Much of the higher part of the hill is common land, used for the grazing of sheep, air traffic control services and working or disused quarries. The summit of Titterstone Clee is bleak, treeless and shaped by decades of quarrying. Many of the structures still remain, and lend to the ghostly atmosphere of the hill top, especially during the prolonged winter fogs that descend over the hills.

The weather on Titterstone Clee Hill can be particularly hazardous, with locally infamous fog and drizzle being commonplace. Snow can also cause problems in winter, as well as gales.

Most of the summit of the hill is effectively man-made, the result of years of quarrying dhustone (dolerite) to be used in road-building. Also, many derelict quarry buildings are scattered over the hill, now used only by sheep sheltering from the worst of weather. Combined, these give the summit of the hill an eerie, other worldly feel.

I hadn't read this before my visit but it is absolutely spot on! Sudden bouts of driving rain and a howling gale made it difficult to stand at times and almost impossible to use a camera. It is a very spooky place - bleak and mostly unattractive - the potential for the view though is what will draw me back there I'm sure.

Well worth making the effort to investigate but need to re-visit!

Cwm Pennant - ultimately reached by a long lane through several farm gates that require both opening and cash! The attraction to this place was the possibility of
bluebells clothing the side of the valley!

From Ephotozine:-Cwm Pennant has often been called "The most beautiful Valley in Wales". (Cwm means valley in Welsh) It is a narrow valley bordered on three sides by the mountains of the Nantlle Ridge, Y Garn, Mynydd Tal Y Mignedd, Moel Lefn and is situated south west of the main Snowdon range of mountains.

The valley was home to slate workings in the late 19th century employing up to 200 workers. The slate was quarried, brought to be dressed and then shipped off in trams down the valley to its destination.

The valley is mainly used for farming nowadays with farming stock indiginous to the area - Welsh Black cattle and Welsh Mountain, Welsh Mule and Lleyn sheep.
Welsh poppies grow wild here and there is a magnificent abundance of bluebells adorning the valley sides in the spring, giving breathtaking views and a wonderful aroma.

Unfortunately neither the bluebells nor the weather obliged. It was a dull day with the occasional hint of decent light, but almost too fleeting. And the bluebells? Perhaps I've been spoilt by our lush woodlands but these were stumpy little things, perhaps grazed off by the sheep, and maybe I was a week or so too early with my visit!

Obviously a beautiful location but again need to revisit, although the window of opportunity for seeing bluebells in their prime, and having good light for photography is pretty narrow.

I spent the night on the edge of Llyn Gwynant on the campsite, it's a stunning location and on this occasion was very quiet - thoroughly recommended, though it can get very busy.

The weather on the day of the workshop with Steve Lewis started well enough but by the time we had walked up the Watkin Pass to the waterfall at Cwm Llan the rain came.
It poured for almost an hour and though spirits were good in the group it was disappointing not to be able to even consider getting the camera out!

There was a short break of about an hour when we all got busy before returning to Caffi Gwynant (Gwynant Café) located near the base of the Watkin Path up Snowdon and a welcome cup of tea.

Our final location for the day was Llyn Dywarchen, a small lake with an island and some ruined cottages, and two small hills which offer unfamiliar views towards Snowdon. This was a pleasant enough location, and I've seem many stunning photos but again the light was not in our favour. I did climb one of the hills overlooking the lake which definitely gave a much better perspective and was well worth the climb but didn't manage to get the 'Aaaah' photo I'd hoped for here!

Having lived for a large portion of my life adjacent to and overlooking Blagdon Lake, seeing it at every time of the day, in all moods and seasons it takes a lot to impress me where lakes are concerned!

This kind of trip isn't just about getting good photos though, the friendship and camaraderie is what makes the day too.

Photos to follow...