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My 7 best photos of 2016

North Photo's 7 best photos of 2016

To mark the end of 2016 I've collated what I believe are my best photos from the year. 2016 has been an interesting year for me - plenty of work, lots of fun and some very enjoyable photography trips.

I've been wild camping in the Scottish Highlands, had a few treks through forests, visited plenty of waterfalls and seen some huge skies full of stars.

Gordale Scar, Yorkshire Dales

Gordale Scar was somewhere I'd been planning to visit for some time. A trip down to Manchester in September gave me a great opportunity to come home via Malham and the mighty Gordale Scar. It's a genuinely impressive sight, and with its towering ruggedness it really suits the term 'Scar'.

I love this photo as it captures the scale of the gorge and the nature of the terrain, the the moody skies give it a sense of foreboding. And most people tend to focus on either the waterfall (behind me in this photo) or the views leading into the Scar, so it's quite nice to have something a touch different.

Have a read through this post to find out more about Gordale Scar and to see the other photos from my visit.

Glen Etive, Highlands

 

In April I set off up to the Highlands to spend a week wild camping, walking and taking photos. A dream come true in many senses, it was an incredible week with perfect weather, clear night skies and some of the most awe-inspiring scenery I have ever seen.

The first stage of the trip was around Glencoe and Glen Etive - I have selected this photo of Glen Etive as one of my favourites. Glencoe was more dramatic, and arguably more photogenic, but it's been done to death by so many. Glen Etive, on the other hand, is effectively a 12-mile dead-end down a single track road, meaning it's a destination rather than a via point. It's still popular though, and it's easy to see why: it is truly gorgeous.

For me, this photo symbolises more than just a nice loch and some mountains - it is a memory of a stunning place and the start of a great week. And I quite like the look of it in black and white...

Hindhope Linn Trail, Kielder Forest

 

A more recent trip took me over to the eastern fringes of Kielder Forest, with the intention of visiting the rather pretty Hindhope Linn waterfall. The fog was settling and it brought out the ambience of the surrounding forest - casting a heavy silence, but for the occasional birdsong and the sounds of nearby cascades.

Whilst I enjoyed exploring the waterfall, the real attraction for me was the forest itself. Because of the weather, and with plenty of autumn colours still present, it made a great subject.

The best picture of the trip in my opinion was this one - I love the curved tree and feel it adds something to the trail and misty trees.

Loch Beinn a’Mheadhoin, Highlands

 

 

The second phase of my spring Highlands adventure was further north, up and around the Glen Affric area. Nestled within the glen are two linked lochs: Loch Affric and Loch Beinn a’Mheadhoin, the later of which was the focus for much of my time there.

I camped up on a little nearly-island (it was still connected to the mainland by a narrow sand bank), and on the eastern edge of the island sat a lone Silver Birch protruding out of the rocky shore. It caught my eye immediately, so with clear skies that night I set up the camera for about two hours' worth of consecutive photos.

Stitching around 200 of these photos together (using a piece of free software called StarStax) produced the image you'll see below: star trails over Loch Beinn a’Mheadhoin.

Loch Affric, Highlands

 

 

Staying with the highlands adventure, I've also picked out this vista of Loch Affric and the distant Kintail Mountains as one of my favourite photographs of the year.

I climbed up to the vantage point on a whim really, I hadn't set out to go there but saw the opportunity and thought it would be too good to miss. And it was certainly worth the short climb; the near 360 degree views were stunning. The sun was starting to drop whilst I was up there, and it cast a wonderful light over the loch and the Kintail Mountains in the background. It was a bit windy though!

It's actually a quite easy spot to get to if you're in Glen Affric - drive west to the furthest car park which sits between Loch Beinn a’Mheadhoin and Loch Affric, and opposite the car park follow the signposted path up the hillside to the view point.

 

Sycamore Gap, Northumberland

 

Sycamore Gap is widely regarded as one of the most photographed places in Northumberland. But that doesn't stop me going - apart from its fame through Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves and winning England's Tree of the Year 2016, it truly is a magnificent spot. The sole tree sits perfectly nestled in a dramatic dip in Hadrian's Wall.

I've taken many a photo up there over the years, but the one scene that has proved elusive to me is the grand old Sycamore sitting under the starry night sky. Each time I've tried, I've been met with clouds or fog. Until late December 2016, when the lack of work, clear skies forecast and no moon meant ideal conditions to give it another go. And it was a success!

My aim was to capture star trails, much like those in the Loch Beinn a’Mheadhoin photo above. They came out very well, as you can see in this post - but I ended up preferring the single shot showing the vast array of stars, including part of the Milky Way, Polaris (the North Star) and - if you look closely - the Plough.

Blawearie, Northumberland

 

Another interesting wander took me across the moors in north Northumberland to two key places: Cateran Hole and Blaewearie.

Blaewearie is a ruined farmstead near Old Berwick, reportedly derelict since the 1940s. The name Blaewearie is believed to mean "tired of the wind" and is certainly in a very remote rural setting. It's a great place to explore, with the ruins of the farm buildings, the remains of a landscaped garden and even what looks like an outside netty.

From the right angles, there is a stunning backdrop of the Cheviot Hills, which was my choice of images as you can see below.

Needless to say I'm looking forward to more adventures during 2017, including another wild camping trip back to the Highlands in the spring.

If you'd like to know more about my suggestions for places to photograph in the North East, have a look at my posts on 7 of the best photo spots in Northumberland and 7 stunning North East waterfalls.

Thanks for reading, and keep an eye on my blog and Facebook page for more photos, trips and top photography tips.

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Druid’s Temple, Nidd Falls and Harmby Falls

Druids Temple, Nidd Falls and Harmby Falls

A little while ago I came across this excellent photo of Druid's Temple in North Yorkshire. I'd never heard of it before and it instantly sparked my curiosity. After a little research it was firmly marked on my list of places to visit. I got my chance on a day's holiday from work to pop down and explore, and also managed to get a couple of waterfalls in: Nidd Falls near Lofthouse and Harmby falls in Harmby, near Leyburn.

Druid's Temple

Druid's Temple was first up for the day. After an arduous journey down from Northumberland (a closed road lead to a fair amount of traffic...), we arrived at the car park which is just a few minutes' walk from the Temple. It's a really impressive sight, as you can see...

Druid's Temple
Druid's Temple, North Yorkshire

A bit about the Temple: it's important to note that this is a folly, built somewhere in the late 1700s and early 1800s (no one seems quite sure precisely who built it or when). It's understood that it was built as a copy of a Druid's temple (hence the name...) and was constructed to give locals paid work. Apparently someone was offered a salary to live there as a hermit for seven years!

 

As well as dozens of standing stones and an altar, there is a cave and stone table to the rear, which you don't see until you're nearly at the rear of the temple, as the altar blocks it from sight.

Druid's Temple Cave
The stone table and cave at Druid's Temple

The surrounding woods, known as Druid's Plantation, offered up a few photo opportunities too. There was a thin layer of mist hanging for the duration of my visit, which added to the atmosphere and the photos. There are excellent views of Leighton Reservior from the edge of the forest, although the conditions didn't allow for a decent photo.

Druid's Plantation
Druid's Plantation
Druid's Plantation
Druid's Plantation, with in-camera movement

Nidd Falls

Next up on the list was a waterfall near Lofthouse, not marked on the Ordnance Survey map but known locally as Nidd Falls. Thanks to the excellent blog My Yorkshire Dales for the inspiration and directions. If you haven't come across this before, it's a great read if you're looking for locations in the Yorkshire area.

Following the given directions, we parked up by the Fire Station and walked up the road. Sure enough, it was remarkably easy to spot the waterfall from the road, so we headed down and  explored the area.

Nidd Falls
Nidd Falls, near Lofthouse
Nidd Falls

Harmby Falls

Our final destination for the day was Harmby falls, this time inspired by Yorkshire Waterfalls, another useful blog detailing dozens of waterfalls in the Yorkshire counties. We parked up at the roadside and followed the rather helpful 'Waterfall' sign down some steps almost straight to the waterfall. There's a small footbridge across the stream so it's easy to explore what is an impressive waterfall from both sides.

Harmby Falls
Harmby Falls, with the footbridge in view
Harmby Waterfall

Thanks for reading, and if you liked this you may find my post about the top waterfalls in the North East of interest...

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Wild Camping: Glen Affric and Loch Beinn a’Mheadhoin

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Hillhead Tunnel

Hillhead Tunnel   I took a day off work (planned, not a sickie) the other day to get out and about taking some photos with my friend Charlie. We decided it was about time we went back to Hillhead Tunnel in Northumberland – we’ve been there before but some time ago. It was also a […]

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Warkworth Beach

Warkworth Beach   A little while ago I had a couple of days off work, so thought I’d pop out for a bit to see what I could find. I only had a couple of hours and didn’t want to go too far, so I thought I’d go for a walk (and a kickabout with my friend) on […]

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