• January Shifts

Three shots of turbulent clouds, looking north (10 January 2016).

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• Downpour in the woods

Last night’s rain over Cornwall gave us a slight inkling of what the floods have done to Scotland and the north of England in recent weeks.  It tipped down during the night and the roads were soon awash with flash torrents.  On the wooded lower slopes of the moor the water was racing across the grass, tumbling through the normally dry gaps between the trees and boulders just as it did on 1 January 2014.  And I was photo-bombed for the first time.

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• Out Delivering Christmas Cards…

On my circular walk o’er fields and through mud to deliver Christmas cards, I turned back to see Stowe’s Mound framed by a Japanese/van Gogh tree and lowering clouds just masking the early afternoon sun.  A bit apocalyptic for the season of goodwill.

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• Enrico David @ Hepworth Wakefield

On a brief trip up north to go to two concerts at the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival, see friends in Leeds and Newcastle and hear the Northern Sinfonia play Elgar and Sibelius at Sage Gateshead, I made time to visit the four-year-old Barbara Hepworth Gallery in her native Wakefield.  It is a magnificent building, its angular design recalling the ‘Walk-In’ statue that graces the entrance to my last School of Music, at Cardiff University.  Inside, it was packed with visitors, young and old (entrance is free) and Hepworth’s work is spaciously displayed.  The collection is especially interesting for its plaster casts of major sculptures.  But my heart still lies in Hepworth’s sculpture garden in St Ives.

But there are temporary exhibitions too, and one caught my eye.  Sparingly placed in their space were works by Enrico David, whom I did not know.  I was especially taken by one lounging in the centre of the gallery.

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• Bearah and Kilmar in the autumn mist

On one of my favourite walks, this time with two friends who’ve not been on it before, past the ‘faery’ glen of oaks and boulders strewn across the middle reaches of Shales Brook, then through the sometimes impenetrable mist lying between Bearah and Kilmar Tors, and round via the old quarry railway track, past startled cattle, to the far left-hand side of Kilmar, overlooking Trewortha Farm (invisible in today’s weather).  Up to our right loomed the unmistakeable profile of West Turret (see one of last year’s posts Stupendous Pile).  Altogether very atmospheric and wet.IMG_8014 copy

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• Morwenstow

It’s a fair old trek up and over the coastal terrain north of Morwenstow, but even on a dull day the views of the rock formations are as extraordinary as ever.  While the famous church and vicarage (or, rather, the church with a famous vicar) huddles beneath the skyline, the GCHQ radio listening station a couple of miles to the south stands out like a sore thumb.  The dishes are even visible from the moor above my house an hour’s drive away…

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• Botallack

On a three-day trip round West Penwith with Polish friends, we went down to see the engine houses of Botallick’s Crown Mines, the most photographed site in Cornish mining history for its stunning and perpendicular location.

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• Stupendous Pile

The most impressive cheesewring in these ‘ere parts – to my mind at least – is not the famous one near Minions, magnificent though that is, but one that perches at the western end of Kilmar Tor, a couple of miles away.  The Cornish topographer Thomas Bond (1765-1837) described this cheesewring as a ‘stupendous pile’ and called it the ‘Western Turret’.  It’s also known as ‘The Kilmarth’.  More recently, rock climbers and boulderers have devised half-a-dozen routes up to its summit, one called ‘Western Turret’ and others with five fantastic names to match: ‘Avoidance’, ‘Special Llama’, ‘Light Trip Fandangle’, ‘Two Slaps No Fly’ and ‘Sleepy Hollow’.  Only the brave would attempt these routes, especially on a fiercely windy day like today.  I’ve never seen anyone on them.  There is a terrific guide for those who are tempted to do so, or even for a passive reader like me: Barnaby Carver & Sean Hawken, Cheesewring and South East Cornwall: A Climbers’ Guide (St Ives Printing & Publishing Company, 1998, rev. 2012).

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This ‘stupendous pile’ leans both to the north and to the west and its distinctive profile is visible from afar, from the SE clockwise round to the NE.  These two shots – a bit dark, but so was the light – are taken from the east, where a walk along the full spine takes several hours.  What is remarkable, at least to a layman like myself, is how it stays upright.  When you approach more closely, you can see that to the left of the turret (the south side) a whole slew of supporting cheesewrings has sheered off, leaving the rest perilously balanced.  But you can just about work out that the central gravitational line is sufficiently to the right to support the whole turret.  It still looks as if one push might topple it to the left or to the right, but it’s obviously more sturdy than that.  At least, I hope it is.

Sometime I must go up and take a more revealing set of photographs.

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St Michael’s Mount & St Ives

I’m on a little trip west.  It was overcast, to say the least, but St Michael’s Mount looks impressive in any weather and the wind and wet did not seem to deter a surfing class on Portmeor Beach in St Ives.

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• Trewortha Bunny

Trewortha Tor, north of Kilmar, has more than its fir share of interestingly shaped rocks and boulder formations.  One of my favourites is what I call the ‘Trewortha Bunny’.  Others see an elephant head…

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