Kielder Forest Archives | North Photo
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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Hindhope Linn in Kielder Forest

Hinhope Linn and Kielder Forest

Hindope Linn, situated on the eastern fringes of Kielder Forest, is a firm favourite of mine. A nice waterfall in its own right, it's the surrounding forest and the nearby Blakehope Burn that really make it what it is. So on a day off work, with a bit of fog forecast, it seemed the perfect destination for a walk and a few photos.

The Fog

Hindhope Linn sits a short walk away from Forest Drive just off the A68. On the way up there, the fog was rather dense so I stopped up near Kirkharle for a look around. Sitting in the middle of a nearby field was an excellent, and quite eerie looking, lone tree shrouded by the fog.

Definitely worth further investigation, I hopped over the barbed wire fence (don't tell the farmer) and set up for a few shots. This was the result:

Fog-shrouded lone tree
Fog-shrouded lone tree

Glad I stopped - but unfortunately I slipped when climbing back over the barbed wire fence... two puncture wounds and three cuts to my hand and thigh later... it was worth it though!

Hindhope Linn Trail

If you've never been to Hindhope Linn before it's quite easy to find. Head north up the A68 towards the border - in between Rochester and Byrness you'll see the left turn onto Forest Drive into Kielder Forest. Take this road and as soon as you cross the small bridge there's parking on the left next to a public toilet block. Park here then head up the track past the farm and keep an eye open for the well-signposted path to Hindhope Linn on the right. Simply follow the track (and the orange arrows) and you're there. There are a couple of maps further down this post if you need them.

This is one of the nicest stretches of the trail:

Hindhope Linn Trail
The Hindhope Linn Trail

A little further on the path forks. Take the right-hand fork and you'll descend to a small bridge from which you can see Hindhope Linn, upstream from a smaller cascade by the bridge.

Hindhope Burn
Hinhope Burn with Hindhope Linn in the distance

Walking upstream leads you directly to Hindhope Linn, a pretty waterfall nestled in amongst the forest undergrowth. It's easy to cross the burn if you wish to have a nosy around, otherwise it's a dead end as there's no easy way up the sides.

Hindhope Linn
Hindhope Linn

Blakehope Burn

Heading back down to the small footbridge, the main river is the Blakehope Burn which is well worth exploring in its own right. Meandering and cascading off to the east, there are swirling pools and beaches full of shiny pebbles set in gorgeous forest surroundings.

Blakehope Burn
Blakehope Burn

You can continue to follow the path along the burn before it diverts up a curling set of steps into the forest, eventually joining the Hindhope Burn upstream from the waterfall. I'd highly recommend taking the time out to explore further while you're there.

Hindhope Linn Trail
The path alongside Blakehope Burn


As mentioned above, it's easy to find Hindhope Linn. But in case you're not familiar with the area, here are a couple of maps to show the location:

Hindhope Linn Map

I'd be interested to hear your thoughts on Hindhope Linn (by the way, I'm never sure if the 'Hind' in Hindhope should be pronounced to rhyme with 'binned' or 'bind' - any ideas?) and Kielder Forest - please leave your comments below.

Thanks for reading, and feel free to check out my other posts and photos. You may enjoy my posts about 7 stunning North East waterfalls and 7 of the best photo spots in Northumberland.

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7 stunning North East waterfalls

7 Stunning North East Waterfalls If you asked most people where the best waterfalls are in the UK, the North East probably wouldn’t be their first answer. Fair enough, as there are some fine examples in Wales, Scotland, the Lake District and Yorkshire Dales. That said, there are some stunning waterfalls in and around Northumberland, […]

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