Goodbye Cheshire

I'm no longer a student!  I finished my studies in June and I've now started getting out with the camera far more frequently.  One of the first places to go was Yorkshire.  Yorkshire, specifically the Yorkshire moors and coast, is a favourite place of mine.  I think my love originates from trips to see my family and, later, walking trips around the area including camping at a beautiful place at Robin Hoods Bay.  Waking up in my sleeping bag and looking at how my blue tent was now orange was a weird moment from that particular trip.  My blue tent was being illuminated by one of the most beautiful sunrise skies in all of history (OK, maybe a tad of exaggeration).  And did I say I didn't have my camera?!  There was nothing else to do other than pull back the flysheet and eat flapjack for breakfast.  That was a good morning.

I had the opportunity to go back recently with good company, hot chocolate, whisky and jaffa cakes.

Robin Hoods Bay isn't the biggest place in the world but I like it.  In my mind's eye, I was after a shot of the slipway disappearing into the sea.  This image is actually a panoramic - I need a wider lens!  I shot a series of portrait images that later were stitched together in Photoshop.  However, from this Photoshop work, you can see where there is some distortion with the horizon curving downwards.  I like this though.  It's like you're looking off to the edge of the world... I believe the phrase you're looking for here is, "yes Matt".

Anyway, the next morning, whilst waiting for ice cream shops to open (apparently they don't open at 9am... who knew!) we went for a little wander up onto the cliff tops.  On the way up the steps, I stopped dead when I saw a little creature a'top the hand rail.  A Common Lizard.  Lethargic in the cool morning air, he/she sat there and let me take a lot of photos before I found the one I liked.  We left him in peace and continued on up.  Isn't he sweet?

Back from Yorkshire, I went exploring the Cheshire hills, woodlands and moorlands.  I rapidly learnt that the moors are a big place!  If you time it right, however, you can use this to your advantage and often go for a walk and see very few people!  Sometimes none.  But that requires a fair bit of luck.  Couple that with, in the right place, no phone signal, it can be serenely peaceful.

One such peaceful occasion found me hiking up Shining Tor.  I was looking for Short Eared Owl and I can safely say that that was a failure.  However, the Meadow Pipits were friendly and often posed on top of the fence posts to watch me walk by.  Two different images appeared in my head.  The first one, I deliberately kept the image "high key" and added an Orton effect (to make it feel dreamy...).  The second image I made "low key" by underexposing to play more with silhouettes and shadows.  I wonder which one you prefer?

The walk was superb.  Starting on the moors, I descended into a gorge thing, or "clough", with bracken as tall as me.  Bracken saturated with water, however.  That resulted in some very wet legs and very wet feet in very wet boots.  So all in all, very very very wet.  Great fun though and I think I was chuckling to myself all the way along that path.  Maybe that's why I didn't see many people that morning... Steer clear of the soaking wet bloke wrapped up in green who is chuckling to himself!  Out of the clough, I climbed through a small wood and back onto the moors.  Up and up to the summit of Shining Tor by about 8am.  Great start to a Saturday morning with me feeling like a king of the hill.  

You've probably guessed, I do love an early morning wander.  However, I am also partial to a bit of evening wandering.  On a particularly long walk one afternoon, we came across a run underneath a fence line coupled with Badger tracks further along the path.  It warranted an evening wander and stake out.  I was so pleased I decided to do so...

Sitting on a little hillock with my sandwiches in the rain (quite heavy rain at times, I might add) I watched the world go by, fingers crossed the horses in the field wouldn't get too curious about what I was doing.  After a few hours, and past the horses bed time, I'd started to lose  concentration and my mind was itself on an evening wander.  But then I realised there was a little head peering out from the sett.  A cub.  Followed by two adults.  They had a quick sniff of the air before bumbling down into the woods below.  Magic!  Time for home to dry out and to eat a celebratory bowl of cornflakes.

Recently, I have also been seeing the Red Deer gearing up for their autumn trials.  With the stags sporting their regal head dresses, the hinds seem more concerned with resting, eating and tending to their young bambi's.  I have been seeing them more frequently on my evening wanders which resulted in an... errr... interesting encounter recently.

The first image shows a hind with her bambi in the evening light from a few nights ago.  That doesn't seem like a dodgy encounter does it?  You'd be right.  At this point, I was enjoying myself.  Then I realised I was walking along a path I didn't know without a map, hoping (nay, praying!) it would take me back to the car.  It was getting dark and I didn't have a torch.  But it's OK, if I get really stuck, I have my ph... Ah, that thought died as my phone battery gave its last breath.  That's when things became a little entertaining.

Up ahead, there was a figure on the path.  Moving in the gloom.  I stopped when I realised it was a stag.  Please be friendly!  Please be friendly!

Then there were more!

"The lads

It was getting properly dark at this point.  I took comfort from the fact that the stags hadn't disbursed yet so I was unlikely to get charged by a testosterone pumped stag protecting his harem.  I'm very pleased that was the case - check out the antlers on the first stag from the right.  After taking a few images, I decided to use the rest of the remaining light to work out whether I was on the right path back to the car and leave the deer in peace.  Phew, there's the car.  Such a wonderful night though.  And I am glad I did it without a map.  Without a torch in the near dark.  Without a working phone.  It was humbling to be in the presence of such majestic beasts.

I feel I should end this ramble sooner rather than later...  So I'll leave with a few images...


So as my life as a student has come to an end and I leave Cheshire, I am looking forward to seeing what is coming round the next corner.  I hope that you'll keep stopping by to see what I am up to and, as always, thank you for reading my ramblings and looking at these images.  See you all soon!

Now I need to start packing...



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