Parkgate. Bats In The Pillbox.

04-05-19 PARKGATE. WW2 Pillbox Bat Roost.

PARKGATE. Is a small coastal village on the Wirral, facing acoss the wide Dee estuary towards North Wales. In a corner of a former railway station yard there stands an old pillbox, it dates from the early 1940’s and was built to help defend the nearby shoreline from the threat of invasion. However it’s brooding presence now has a more gentle purpose as it has been brought into use as a bat roost, the thick walls providing the insulation to keep the year round temperatures even as well as providing a hefty amount of sound insulation. The railway line the station stood on is now part of the Wirral Way Country Park, which runs along the former railway line between West Kirby and Hooton, a distance of about 12 miles. Both ends of the route are still rail served so a circular walk is possible, with plenty refreshment opportunities available in Parkgate and West Kirby.

 

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Scotland. Nine Memories.

My late father was Scots so naturally I have an attachment great affection for the country and have been visiting since forever.

It would be impossible/stupid to try and describe all the place has to offer in one post so I’ll just use a selection of nine images chosen from a hard drive that’s bursting at the seams with Scottish imagery. There’s no theme to the choice, apart from all being taken in Scotland (obvs), they just brought back memories or there was something about the shot that either appealed at the time or struck me later, you know that thing that you didn’t notice because you were so engrossed in getting the shot it only catches your eye later when you sit back and look at them again in a more relaxed frame of mind.

The headline image is of a rainbow spanning the waters of Loch Rannoch, it was taken on the first day of that year’s holiday, a nice good omen for the fortnight’s break ahead.

Enough words, to the photos.

19/08/14 EDINBURGH.  Publicity Can Be Dangerous.

EDINBURGH. Walking around Edinburgh when the Festival and the Fringe are in progress you can somethimes come across the most unusual and startling sights. The Fringe production ‘Riptide’ earns some dead good publicity amongst the tourists on the Royal Mile.

CROMARTY. The Harbour.

CROMARTY. Sitting at the head of the Black Isle is the small port of Cromarty, facing across the Cromarty Firth. The Firth is a maintenance base for the North Sea oile rigs and it’s not unusual to sea one of these engineering monsters towering over the gentle folds of the surrounding landscape.

28/08/14 SCOTLAND. The Black Isle. Munlochy Clooty Well.

THE BLACK ISLE. A tree at the Munlochy Clootie Well. The tradition is to dip a cloth, a cloot, in the nearby well and then tie it to a nearby tree while making a wish. Some people get carried away by the odd atmosphere around the well.

190810 DUNKELD View from the bridge 3

DUNKELD. A favourite place which I’ve used as a base for touring around Scotland, it sits on the A9, the main north south road and well as A roads that give easy acess to the east and west. The nearby railway station means you can be into Edinburgh, Glasgow or Inverness with ease. In the semi ruined cathedral, part of the nave still serves as the parish church, is the grave of the Count Roehenstart, grandson of Bonnie Prince Charlie who died in a carriage accident while touring through the area in the 1850’s.

200811 CORGARFF CASTLE

CORGARFF CASTLE. This fascinating castle, dating from the 16th century sits on the lonely Lecht Road which leads from Strathdon to the town of Tomintoul. After a checkered history, it was burnt down in a dispute in the 1570’s, it was rebuilt as a military instillation after the Jacobite uprisings, it was at this time that the castle gainedn it’s impressive star shaped defensive wall. open to the public and worth a visit.

200811 LOGIERAIT Farmers Market Ceilegh Band

LOGIERAIT. A little to south of Pitlochry on the A9 is the village of Logierait where they hold a monthly Farmers Market. A ceilidh band busks for local charities among the stalls of local produce and local gossip.

270510 GLASGOW The Botanic Gardens The Kibble Palace, the glass corridor2

GLASGOW. The Botanic Gardens. This is the interior of the Kibble Palace, a magical sequence of glasshouses origonally built by the Victorian entrepreneur John Kibble at his house on Loch Long. In the 1870’s it was sold to the Glasgow Botanic Gardens. It was comprehensively restored in the early 2000’s and hold a collection of tropical and subtropical plants.

SONY DSC

DUNKELD. A personal favourite is The Hermitage; once the pleasure grounds of the Dukes of Atholl. This is Ossians Hall a folly built to overlook the falls of Linn on the River Braan. A sequence of walks leads through the Hermitage to give breathtaking views of the surrounding countryside.

 

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On The Move. Six Random Shots

I imagine every photographer will be familiar with this scenario. You are working through your photo files and an image catches your eye. You may have seen it countless times before, you will remember taking it but this time around it hits you with that other ‘something’ that makes you sit back in your chair while you try and analyse what it is that caught your attention.

Here’s a small selection culled from a recent house keeping session on the photo files.

The featured shot was a grab shot with my mobile ‘phone. I was hurrying to catch a train at Earlestown, one of my local stations, the route had been electrified a couple of years ago and the parapet of the footbridge had been raised with heavy duty glass panels as a safety measure. The pattern of raindrops caught my eye as I crossed, damn I’d seen it and I couldn’t walk past it as I knew I’d regret it for the rest of the day. The camera was out of harms way in my rucksack so out came the mobile. Shot taken I went and caught my train (just), I tried a couple of filters on the image but I kept coming back to black and white, so here it is.

That’s the back story for one of these shots, you can put your own to the rest.

13-09-18 MANCHESTER. Castlefileds Canal Basin.

MANCHESTER. Castlefields Canal Basin, a pre railway age transport hub where the canals that kick started the city’s industrial pre-eminence came in to connect with the manufacturies and warehouses in the area. Tellingly here the canals are overshadowed by the viaducts of the railways that lead to the canal’s demise.

19-08-18.  LYTHAM. On Parade.

LYTHAM. On parade for the jiving in the Square during Lytham’s 1940’s weekend.

19/10/18 LIVERPOOL. Exchange Square.

LIVERPOOL. Shadows moving across Exchange Flags in Liverpool, the heart of the city’s business district.

06/10/18  LLANDUDNO. In Memoriam Of Ginger.

LLANDUDNO. Across from the Great Orme Tramway station a life passed is remembered.

22/09/18  MORECAMBE. Heysham Head. The Rock Cut Graves.

MORECAMBE. The rock cut graves on Heysham Head overlooking Morecambe Bay.

 

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Chorley. Snowdrops In Astley Park.

The Seasons are turning warm, the days are getting slowly longer and the sun is becoming less shy about being seen out and about. Today started a bit on the grim side with a slow fog lazing about but by the mid morning it had largely burnt away so I decided to make a break for it before the weather closed in again.

I decided to head for the market town of Chorley, about an hour’s drive away, sometimes less if the traffic is behaving itself. When I drive to Chorley I generally leave the car in Astley Park, it’s just off the town centre and it makes for a pleasant walk. The main path is straight and clear from the front of the house, see the headline shot, but there are also paths that wander through the woodlands, over bridges and past burbling streams. These would have been used as an elegant diversion for the occupants of the house through the years.

As is the way with these things, ownership of the house passed through different families, either by marriage or a family line dying out. The Charnocks, Brookes and Townley-Parkers all owned the house at one time, eventually it passed into the care of the council in the 1920’s It’s open now at weekends and contains a fantastically impressive plasterwork ceiling as well as a gallery and exhibition space.

The impressive frontage with it’s lion capped doorway dates from the 1660’s, being built onto the original timber frames house. Alas it was a bit of a rushed job and became slightly detached, the floor of the long gallery now has an impressive set of bumps and hollows as you promenade along it. I’ve also heard that it may be haunted….

On a lighter note the old stable block has a really good cafe.

14/02/19  CHORLEY. Astley Hall Snowdrops.

CHORLEY. Snowdrops in Astley Park.

One treat of today is that the snowdrops, Galanthus Nivalis, as my late father’s gardening books tell me are now out in profusion and they added that striking burst of white whenever the sun broke through the clouds that were cartwheeling across the sky. A pleasant bonus on a crisp day, I might try and catch them again before they fade.

14/02/19  CHORLEY. Astley Hall Snowdrops.

CHORLEY. Snowdrops in Astley Park.

14/02/19  CHORLEY. Astley Hall Snowdrops.

CHORLEY. Snowdrops in Astley Park.

14/02/19  CHORLEY. Astley Hall Snowdrops.

CHORLEY. Snowdrops in Astley Park.

14/02/19  CHORLEY. Astley Park. The Hall. Walled Garden.

CHORLEY. Astley Hall in Astley Park. The Walled garden and recentley restored greenhouse.

 

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Welshpool. An Unexpected Journey.

It was towards the end of October and the weather had picked itself up from the grey doldrums. Not wanting to waste this bonus of sunshine I took myself off by train. I had decided to go down to the Welsh borderlands and travelled on to Chester and then Shrewsbury. It’s a pleasant, easy journey that I’ve taken quite a few times.

From Shrewsbury I decided to head out to the market town of Welshpool, it sits on the Montgomery Canal and it’s an area I know little if anything about. If nothing else it would be an interesting journey, I would have a meal and pick up ideas for next years when the longer, warmer days return.

The journey out wasn’t a long one and the station at Welshpool is not too far from the town centre. The old station building is no longer in use by the railway but instead is now a shopping centre in the renovated building.

I knew that Welshpool was served by one of the many preserved narrow gauge lines that are a feature of Wales, the Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway, so I made my way over to the station at Raven Square to see what information was available for future planning. The railway has it’s beginnings in attempts to increase access to the farms and villages in the valleys higher up in the hills and at one time it ran right through then town to the station on the main line. Unfortunately between it’s closure and reopening at the hands of volunteers the stretch through the town was lost.

When I got to the station, it’s not a long walk and it was a really pleasant day, I found that I was only fifteen minutes away from a departure so I took advantage of this stroke of luck and had an extremely enjoyable journey along the valley of the River Banwy to the terminus at Llanfair Caereinion and a lunch in the pleasant station cafe.

It’s definitely on my list for a revisit in 2019.

20/10/18  WELSHPOOL. The Powysland Museum.

WELSHPOOL. The Powysland Museum on the Montgomery Canal. The museum has its roots in the Powysland Club which was formed in the 1860’s by a group of like minded souls who had in interest in the history of the area, since 1990 the museum has been based in the warehouse alongside the Mongomery Canal. the canal is undergoing a proces of restoration after many years of decline where stretches of it became un-navigable through a build up of rubbish or by draining.

20/10/18  WELSHPOOL. Broad Street.

WELSHPOOL. Looking up Broad Street, one of the main shopping streets in the town. In the distance is the tower of the town hall, the town’s market which is open Monday to Saturday, is housed in the ground floor of the town hall. Up until the early 1830’s Welshpool, four miles from the border with England, was known simply as Pool, the Welsh was added to avoid confusion with Poole in Dorset.

20/10/18  WELSHPOOL & LLANFAIR Light Rly. Welshpool Raven Square

WELSHPOOL & LLANFAIR Light Rly. Welshpool Raven Square Station which lie just on the edge of the town centre. Originally when built the railway carried on through then centre of Welshpool to link up with the main line at the Cambrian Railways station on the opposite side of the town. The station buildings were obtained from Eardisley in Herefordshire and rebuilt to form the Raven Square station.

20/10/18  WELSHPOOL & LLANFAIR Light Rly. Welshpool Raven Square

WELSHPOOL. The Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway’s Raven Square station, the two o’clock departure to Llanfair Caereinion gets ready to leave. Because the railway’s guage of 2’6″ is an unusual one in the UK the railway has sourced carriaged from abroad giving the trains an individual and continental look.

20/10/18  WELSHPOOL & LLANFAIR Light Rly. Welshpool Raven Square

WELSHPOOL. The Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway’s Raven Square station, the two o’clock departure to Llanfair Caereinion gets ready to leave. Loco 823 Countess swaps ends for the jopurney back up to Llanfair. The loco is one of the two original locomotives built for the line’s opening in1903, the other being the Earl. Their names are in honour of the Earl and Countess of Powis who were heavily involved in the beginnings of the line.

20/10/18  WELSHPOOL. Refilling The Boiler.

WELSHPOOL & LLANFAIR Light Rly. Welshpool Raven Square Station refilling the boiler of loco 823 Countess ready for the next journey out to Llanfair. There’s a lot of heavy work involved in running a light railway.

20/10/18  WELSHPOOL& Llanfair Light Rly. Through The Trees.

WELSHPOOL. Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway, running through the trees near Llanfair. The railway takes and eight mile route from Welshpool to Llanfair Caereinion along the valley of the River Banwy.

20/10/18  WELSHPOOL& Llanfair Light Rly. Lineside.

WELSHPOOL. Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway, lineside views near Sylfaen.

20/10/18  LLANFAIR CAEREINION. Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railwa

LLANFAIR CAEREINION. Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway. 823 Countess at the country terminus and headquarters of the railway.

20/10/18  LLANFAIR CAEREINION. Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railwa

LLANFAIR CAEREINION. Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway. loco No 85 a former Sierra Leone Ralways locomotive built by Hunslett of Leeds. The loco is currently awaiting restoration.

20/10/18  LLANFAIR CAEREINION. Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railwa

LLANFAIR CAEREINION. Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway. The station at Llanfair, headquarters and engineering base for the railway. The attractive little village is situated by the River Banwy which can be enjoyed by a series of walks from the station.

 

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RIVINGTON. Sunlight And Old Stones.

High on the sometimes bleak West Pennine Moors in between the Lancashire towns of Horwich and Chorley there’s a hilltop rich in trees, with here and there the remains of buildings showing through. These are the Terraced Gardens, the creation of local businessman William Lever, later 1st Viscount Leverhulme. I’ve been visiting the gardens since my childhood and have seen the ebb and flow of their condition over time. The gardens were an extravagant mix of pathways and follies, the designer was Thomas Mawson. From the top of the gardens there are views right across the plain of Lancashire to the coast.

Leverhulme created the gardens at the turn of the 1900’s, he was familiar with the area from his courting days and the gardens were heavily influenced by his travels. He made his fortune by building on his family’s grocery business, creating the very successful Sunlight Soap brand along the way. His main home was on the Wirral at Thornton Hough, the Wirral is also the location of the garden village of Port Sunlight which he built to house the workers from the adjacent factory. The fascinating Lady Lever Galley which houses some of the art collection built up by him and his wife and opened in her memory can also be found in Port Sunlight.

After Lord Leverhulme’s death in 1925 the estate was sold on to the owner of a local brewery and on his death the estate was bought by Liverpool Corporation who already owned much of the land in the area and had created a series of reservoirs to supply the city. The main house and the estates’ gatehouses were demolished in 1947 and the long period of decline began. Now in the hands of the water company United Utilities a program consolidation and restoration work is underway.

11/11/18 RIVINGTON TERRACED GARDENS.  Seven Arch Bridge.

RIVINGTON TERRACED GARDENS. The Seven Arch Bridge across the old road from Chorley into Horwich.

11/11/18 RIVINGTON TERRACED GARDENS.  Seven Arch Bridge Steps.

RIVINGTON TERRACED GARDENS. The steps leading down from the summer house to the Seven Arch Bridge over the old Chorley – Horwich road. Due to the steep slopes visible in this shot the gardens were laid out in a series of terraces.

11/11/18 RIVINGTON TERRACED GARDENS. The Pigeon Tower.

RIVINGTON TERRACED GARDENS. One of the most striking and visible features of the gardens is The Pigeon Tower seen from the boating pool. The tower was built to take advatage of the views from the highest point of the gardens. The top floor was used as a sitting & sewing room by Lady Leverhulme. as can be seen from the photo consolidation and restoration is work taking place throughout the gardens.

11/11/18 RIVINGTON TERRACED GARDENS. The Swimming Pool Restorati

RIVINGTON TERRACED GARDENS. The the boating pool beneath the Pigeon Tower undergoing restoration. Viscount Leverhulme being a great believer in the benefits of fresh air and exercise would occaisionally swim in the pool. Again the restoration work in progress can been seen with the new lining to the pool and the clearing away of overgrown vegetation.

11/11/18 RIVINGTON TERRACED GARDENS.  Bungalow Ruins.

RIVINGTON TERRACED GARDENS. Lord Leverhulme’s house at Rivington was a bungalow by the name of Roynton Cottage. This tiled flooring is all that now remains of the building. Roynton Cottage replaced an earlier, wooden cottage which was burnt down in 1913 by Edith Rigby as a Sufferagette protest. The curve of the tiles runs along the edge of what had been the cicular ballroom, the ceiling of which was dark blue and decorated with gold stars representing the constellations on the night of Lord Leverhulme’s birth, 19th September, 1851.

11/11/18 RIVINGTON TERRACED GARDENS.  Ruined Shelter.

RIVINGTON TERRACED GARDENS. The ruins of a garden shelter on the level below the site of the bungalow.

11/11/18 RIVINGTON TERRACED GARDENS.  Double Staircase.

RIVINGTON TERRACED GARDENS. the double staircase which leads up from the boating pool to the site of the bungalow Roynton Cottage.

11/11/18 RIVINGTON TERRACED GARDENS. Gardeners Cottages.

RIVINGTON TERRACED GARDENS. Gardeners Cottages above the Japanese Pool.

11/11/18 RIVINGTON TERRACED GARDENS.  The Dell & Blue Pool Bridg

RIVINGTON TERRACED GARDENS. Looking down the course of the waterfalls in the dell towards the footbridge.

11/11/18 RIVINGTON TERRACED GARDENS.  Caves Above The Dell.

RIVINGTON TERRACED GARDENS. The man made caves alos known as The Bear Caves, on the path above the Dell.

11/11/18 RIVINGTON TERRACED GARDENS. The Japanese Pool.

RIVINGTON TERRACED GARDENS. The Japanese Pool. Inspired by the Willow Pattern design in its heyday the pool as surrounded with tea houses lit by lanterns and was fed by waterfalls and cascades from the upper levels of the gardens.

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Todmorden. A Market & A Folk Festival.

The weather had at last taken a turn for the better, the sun was high in the sky and the breeze was warm. There had been a run of grey, wet days and I needed to get out of the house and into the world outside. I’m lucky in where I live in North West England that there are really good transport links, railways in particular. It was a Saturday so that markets would be open, I really like the atmosphere that come with a market in a northern town. I picked the town of Todmorden as my destination, it sits up on the Pennines on the Lancashire – Yorkshire border and is a decent train ride away.

I made my way to my local station, Newton le Willows on Stephenson’s historic Liverpool to Manchester route bought my ticket and caught the train into Manchester where I would pick up the onward service to Todmorden. The train change at Manchester was a relaxed one, time enough for a coffee and some people watching on the station concourse, then it was onwards and out through the suburbs of Manchester and into the Pennines. For all the urban sprawl around Manchester, its soon left behind as the hills make their presence felt.

The steady climb up through the rolling moors is suddenly interrupted by the sudden blackness as the train plunges into Summit Tunnel, at over a mile in length it is an example of the challenges that face the Victorian railway builders. With modern trains the tunnel is a brief-ish blip on a journey but for the early passengers travelling behind a smoke and spark belching steam locomotive it must have been a very much more thrilling experience.

Coming out of the tunnel the journey was only a few more minutes before the train pulled into Todmorden station, which sits a little above the town centre. The town was busy, a combination of good weather. Market day and it being the weekend of the town’s Folk Festival.

First order of business after any journey is a coffee and I knew just the place in the market hall, the Exchange Coffee stall.

05/05/18  TODMORDEN. The Folk Festival 2018. Market Hall, Exchan

TODMORDEN. On the Saturday market hall, Exchange Coffee stall.

You will never go hungry or thirsty in Todmorden, there are so many places to choose from but this is a favourite of mine, as is the market hall itself. So it was a mug of really good coffee and some cake ( some things just go together ) while I gathered my thoughts and took in the surroundings. There’s the market hall, with is collection of businesses, butchers, bakers and a ‘proper’ hardware stall.

05/05/18  TODMORDEN. The Folk Festival 2018. Market Hall. Hardwa

TODMORDEN. On the Saturday market hall, the hardware stall.

 

While outside there are more stalls, the whole place having that atmosphere of busy coming and going, conversations being had, shopping being dome and friend and acquaintances being greeted.

A local church had set up a fund gathering cake stall, the cakes were good too. It would have been rude to walk past and not make a donation, well that was my excuse.

05/05/18  TODMORDEN. The Folk Festival 2018. The Open Market. St

TODMORDEN. On the Saturday open market, St. Peter’s Church Wallsden, Charity cake stall.

 

The fishmonger was in town as well, busy in the hot sunshine.

05/05/18  TODMORDEN. The Folk Festival 2018. The Open Market. Pa

TODMORDEN. On the Saturday open market, Paul’s Fresh Fish.

 

Your sweet tooth would be well catered for on Mrs B’s stall, where jams, honey and marmalades were the order of the day.

05/05/18  TODMORDEN. The Folk Festival 2018. The Saturday Open M

TODMORDEN. On the Saturday open market, Mrs. B’s jams and cakes.

 

Dragging myself away from the market I went in search of the Folk festival. There was a busy program of events and the various troupes of dancers and musicians were performing at various points around the town. The image at the head of this post is off the 400 Roses Belly Dancers, who bewitched the crowds with their graceful, rhythmic movements.

For contrast the Oakenhoof Clog Dancers also entertained with the steady click clack of the clogs backed by the breathy notes of the accordion and the twangs of the guitars.

05/05/18  TODMORDEN. The Folk Festival 2018. Oakenhoof Clog Danc

TODMORDEN. The Folk Festival 2018. The Oakenhoof Clog Dancers accordion player.

 

05/05/18  TODMORDEN. The Folk Festival 2018. Oakenhoof Clog Danc

TODMORDEN. The Folk Festival 2018. The Oakenhoof Clog Dancers. Man in a hat full of blossom.

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