WIRRAL WAY INFORMATION
Rain, rain go away and come again another day. Up here in this part of North West England we have had an unwelcome visitor in the shape of storm Gareth. While its effects around where I live have not been too bad I know that it has caused quite a large amount of flooding, damage to buildings and travel disruption for others. Set against that a few weeks of deathly grey skies and incessant rain is getting off lightly. Now I’ve nothing against Gareths, I know that there are some very pleasant and interesting ones out there. Storm Gareth however is another matter.
Because of this I had been putting off trips in the hope that at some point the weather would improve and the skies would turn blue once more. This Sunday past held out that promise so I grabbed a camera and headed out to the coast. A favourite location for me is Lytham, on the Lancashire coast a little to the south of Blackpool and St. Annes. It has an old world charm with tree lined streets and a selection of small, family owned businesses, including some very fine eating establishments. I took in one of my favourites this time around, The Lytham Kitchen, my lunch is the featured image. I opted for the soup and sandwich combo, the home made mushroom & tarragon soup was magnificent, just the thing for a day that had turned cool and very breezy. I coupled them with excellent egg mayo & bacon sandwiches, Ahh, I’ll start the diet tomorrow…….
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.
The weather’s been frightful and far from delightful.
Here in my stretch of North West England there’s been a run of far too many grim, grey, rain spattered days. The sort where you spend far too much time looking out of the window in the hope of finding that elusive sliver of blue in the clouds, a faint sign that better weather is on the way.
After a week or so of playing hide and seek with freezing rain showers, getting the camera gear together only having to sit and wait for another rain squall to take the hint and disappear, I decided to get out of the house no matter what. I decided to play it safe – ish with a train trip to Chester. If the weather was good there would be walks to be had down by the river or around the city’s impressive walls. Or if bad then it would be the city’s Rows to walk through, the market, the Cathedral etc. You get my drift.
On the day it wasn’t warm and it wasn’t really dry but I got out and took a few shots. I also had a coffee and a cheese Toastie at the Barrista Coffee Co place on the bus station while I did a bit of people watching.
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.
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.
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.
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.