It’s not particularly cold at the moment in this corner of the UK, but it is grey, damp and dismal. Now we have reached the darkest depths of the year my mind inevitably turns to sunnier seasons and the very many beautiful places I would prefer to be right now. Listed here are just a few of these locations – they are great to visit in their own right, but are also rich in opportunities for photographers.
So, as I stare out at a heavy, sombre January sky, I dream of summer and wish I could be at:
Newborough Beach, Anglesey
I last visited here in June 2012. It was a warm, sunny day (hard to believe really as that must have been the coldest and wettest mid-summer month I can remember). There were just a few visitors strolling along the beach, which has been awarded a Blue Flag in recognition of its cleanliness. It is lapped by clear waters and backed by sand dunes, which are said to be among the finest in Europe. In the distance are the hills of the Llyn Peninsula. When you visit, capture images of the dunes and the winding, sandy paths through these, which lead to the beach. Photograph the distance hills, through the abundant marram grass that grows in the dunes – focus on the grass and throw the hills out of focus. Also take a walk along the beach to nearby Llanddwyn Island, with its picturesque ruins, stone crosses and old lighthouse. More images of Newborough Beach can be found in the Wales gallery on my main website.
Brantwood, Coniston Water, Cumbria
Last August, I took a boat trip across Coniston Water to Brantwood, the home of the Victorian art critic, educational philanthropist and radical, John Ruskin. The house is a fascinating place to visit, filled with Ruskin’s paintings, personal possessions and furniture. But it was the view across the gardens, down to the placid waters of the lake that I find to be particularly memorable. The path was lined with plants at their summer finest, including buddleias and geraniums. Beyond were recently mown fields, yachts and other pleasure boats on the lake, and the distant hills, clear and vivid in the warm sunshine. There are great photographic opportunities here – and I certainly plan a return visit this year. You can see more photos of Brantwood in the Gardens A to H and Houses and Stately Homes galleries on my main website.
Mirehouse, Keswick, Cumbria
Located close to the waters of Bassenthwaite Lake, Mirehouse is an historic house with extensive gardens, it’s a place I often visit in the summer (beware – the car park can be very full at the height of the season, but it’s definitely worth some persistence in finding a space there). Writers such as Thomas Carlyle, Edward Fitzgerald, Lord Alfred Tennyson and William Wordsworth all have connections with the property. When I am there I always head down towards St. Bega’s Church – it is located in the grounds of the house, close to the lake. The building dates back to the 10th century and exudes an atmosphere of peace and tranquillity. The lakeside setting is also beautiful – as are the great trees studding the waterside field. (Sadly, some of these wonderful specimens are ash and face an uncertain future, see this post for more information). Take your camera and frame the ancient structure with the great, outstretched branches of the trees. Capture images of the building, together with the nearby lake and distant wooded hills. Or direct your camera away from the lake, towards the church and its great encircling stone wall, including the green and purple hillside rising steeply behind it. You can find more images of St. Bega’s Church in the Religious heritage gallery on my main website.