At the end of February a large high pressure system parked itself over the UK for a few days giving some stable, sunny weather. Hopefully it was the first of many yet to come but since then its been wet and very, very windy – but it is winter. Hopefully, the weather will break soon as I found one of my bins flying down the road the other day and tonight, I note, its gone completely – not a sign of it anywhere… Perhaps a kind neighbour has rescued it, it’s been abducted by aliens or its just gone to that place where all the missing bins go. 🙂
Click on the photograph for a larger version!
With the arrival of stable, sunny weather I popped down to Dartmoor for a few days, staying at the Plume of Feathers in Princetown. Whilst Princetown is notorious for its jail – which, by the way, no longer holds the UK’s most dangerous since the local council refused upgrades – it is also well placed on the Western side of the Dartmoor National Park with good access to most places and surrounded by stunningly beautiful tor’s to its South and West. Once upon a time Princetown had a railway station that linked it to Yelverton on the Plymouth to Tavistock line. That would have been a great sight and it’s such a shame it closed in 1956. Although the railway tracks are now gone its path remains and it now makes a popular walking/cycling route. Perhaps one day it can be reopened.
The area just South of Princetown is one of my favourite area’s on the moor and there was one particular Tor I’d been meaning to visit for some time as it looked promising based on mapping and Google Images. Now, it’s always better to be familiar with a location and its potential before arriving at a shoot, so it was with some trepidation that I drove down the B3212 in near absolute darkness with just stars in the sky. Would I find the tor in the dark? Would I get there before the sun rose? Would the light be good and would the tor be photogenic? The usual questions that haunt a landscape photographer! I knew from reviewing the map the previous evening – over a pint of Jail Ale – that a straight line walk-in would likely put me in a boggy stream bed – something I definitely wanted to avoid. It would be necessary to walk South-East for 500m then South-West for 500 metres. The plan proved good, although my estimation of the first 500m was off somewhat! But, in my defence, it was completely dark :-). Still, I used to be better at that sort of thing. After a while and no sign of a tor I decide I couldn’t afford to waste time and checked the GPS. Sure enough I had walked too far on the first leg so was to the North and East of the tor. With the new bearing established off I trotted across the moor trying not to trip on the tussock grass.
Even with the navigation mishap I got to Hart Tor well before sunrise. After all, I had deliberately left plenty of time having not been before…. As dawn approached I relaxed as I’d found the tor, I’d got there in time and it was definitely photogenic 🙂 The only problem was going to be the lack of cloud and thus no colour towards the sun. However, as it got lighter low cloud hugging the land like a fog became visible. Much better! I just had to wait for the sun and hope. Fingers crossed 🙂
With slightly higher ground on the Eastern horizon the sun rose a little later. This higher angle and the clear sky resulted in little colour towards the sun but some lovely low angle light on the grasses and, thanks to that low cloud, the most gorgeous soft colours towards Leather Tor and Sharpitor. The result was the photograph at the top of this post; it is one of my favourites from Dartmoor.