November 30, 2013

A Walk at Limb Valley

Last week I visited Limb Valley, a rather large beech forest that I have planned to photograph for a while now but once again I was late.Just a week earlier it was too early to go there, I thought at least, as the colors were not really at their best. That said, at the end it all went fast, it also was windy so the leaves blew off :/ 
The valley is located just on the outskirts of Sheffield, on the border of the Peak District NP. I find it a pretty cozy little valley much because of the big beech forest.
An observation, throughout many walks I have taken I have seen that people have hang ropes from the trees over the streams. Sure it sounds/looks like a lot of funny but what if the rope breakes? or you can not manage to hold yourself up? (Am I getting old questioning this? :) ) 
On the last pic in this post, I have taken a pic of a really stupid place where somebody have placed a rope directly above a steep fall, 3 - 4m straight down on to a rock.

Here is the rope swinging place, would you dare?

November 27, 2013

Early Morning at Stanage Edge

 I took the 5:30am bus to the Lodge Moor one of the mornings last week, and from there walked to  Stanage Edge in darkness. A walk of about 5km. Why did I do this you may ask yourself? :) Well, the best light tends to be at sunrise or sunset, and that day I wanted to have sunrise. Was hoping also for the fog and autumn colors in the forest down in Hathersage valley. But once there, no autumn colors or fog! A bit dissapointed, as I was there only a week earlier and the colors were still there. Anyhow, while waiting for the sun to rise, some mist was created around the edges. Got a bit happier. 
This was still a bit of a challenge as I was using a graduated filter to get the exposure correct. Without it the sky would get over-exposed, but it kept foging up. Between each picture I needed to clean it. The battle continued for a while. 
As it was a bit windy, I needed to hold down the tripod while taking the pictures too :)) You can hear, this was one of my more exciting photo sessions :)

The best, it did NOT rain.

November 25, 2013

A Walk Through Sherwood Forest

Last Sunday, after spending the Saturday on the coast with the gray seals at Donna Nook, went to Sherwood Forest. Located less than an hour away, i'ts a surprise we have not been there before. The weather that day was not the best, heavy clouds and in general being very dark. Still, it's nice/good to get out.
Once at the visitor center you have to choose from three different routes, but as you know it would be not like us to take anything less than the longest ;) Which is about 6km long :))
It goes through parts of the forest that are more than 500 years old, and is thought to be one of the oldest in the whole of Europe. The oldest, as far as they can calculate, is an oak called the Major Oak with its 800 years.
The path as it's not only going through the forest, and the weather itself, made this walk and photo 'session' not particularly special. I do not really think I took good pictures this time, but its always a challange to try to capture something as a forest.

If you didn't know, Sherwood Forest is world famous as its the legendary home of Robin Hood :))

Major Oak

November 20, 2013

Grey Seal Colony at Donna Nook

Last weekend, we found our way to Donna Nook, approx. 2 hour drive straight to the east coast. The reason was that every year from Sept to Jan, the grey seals are on the beach to give birth and to feed their young. Because it is a popular destination during weekends we started off early. The wish was to be there before the sunrise. Once there at just before 7:00 (count 2 hours backwards to get our start time) we walked straight to the beach where the seals are. Already that early there was few people there, some other dedicated (read crazy) photographers but also some 'seal wardens'. While chatting with them, we found out that just until now 771 poppies had been born, very precise number. During that morning, we could see 5 newborn. At least along the fence, as they looked a bit sticky and yellow.
Along the beach, a fence (approx 1 km) was put up to both protect the seal but also humans. Seals are rather agressive, especially with puppies. Another issue with humans getting to close is that the puppies are that cute that you want to pet them, and because of that touch and the human smell the mother is most probable to abandon the pup.
Anyhow, rather soon while the sun was rising it got clear to us that it was a good move to get there early. Already around 9:00 it got crowded.
I'm all pro for pretecting wild animals, and putting up the fence was the best move they could have done. Its not the best for photography though. When taking pictures its always slightly from above and its rarely good.
The location of this beach is perfect for seals, it's sand dunes and tall grass. At high tide the sea is almost up to the fence while at low tide you can see sand as far as the eye can see. The area is also a military training ground for fighter planes and of course neither is bothered by the other.
Approximately 40% of gray seal population in the entire world can be found in the UK, and apart from this beach they can also be found in smaller populations in Wales and along Scotland's coast.

One of the pictures I wanted to take was of fighting bulls, but during that morning they were rather lazy. We could see some at far distance, but most usually it was just females growling at the male to keep him away from the puppy. They would protecting their young with their lives at stake and without hesitation engage in fights with a larger male that have come to close to the pup, sometimes they are even three times their size.
The males are keeping close, as the females abandon their puppies after 2-3 weeks, and they are ready for mating. The puppy are at that time sufficiently fat to make its way to the sea and start hunting themself, and believe me, they are FAT :)
Hope to go there again in mid-December when everything peaks and then I might get action pictures of fighting bulls.
This is really something I can recommend for families to do, it's easily accessible and it's awesome to see so many seals and their puppies in one place.
Cute puppy

Cows fighting

couple of weeks old pup

Newly born

Cow and bull fighting

A lot of people

The view from one point towards the sea

Keep out

Cow taking her puppy to security from a attacking Bull

Play time

They need to rest too :)

November 17, 2013

Goyt Valley

Continues from previous blog...
Sunday was spent down in Dovedale in South Peak district again but now even more westward. A new part for us. Since I still had the cold no advanced hikes were done :/ Wvisited Goyt Valley and just wander around the reservoir which was a 7km rather simple walk with short slopes.
Very nice nature with surrounding moors and woodlands around the reservoir.
This hike was chosen from a book we have in which they also recommended a loop to drive around the area. The drive takes you up on the bare moors and down the valley, for approx an hour.
Would recommend the area, but nothing there beats the Dark Peaks :)

Next blog will be about gray seals at Donna Nook.

The view from the moors above Goyt valley

Low water in the reservoar

My favorite picture, larch trees lit by sun

Typical look at White peak.

November 14, 2013


The weekend that was , me and my wife rented a car and the idea was that we would explore the southern part of the Peak District. I have for a long time wanted to go to Dovedale it is a valley with ash trees , green hills , caves and rock formations. The place attracts up to 1 million visitors each year and is known for something called the stepping stones and it's simply rocks that crosses the river, hmm did not quite understand why it would be so well known. Maybe fun for families with children playing on the rocks . We walked the entire distance to the other side of the valley and there in between , there were interesting rock formations and caves, we did not have plenty of time since we arrived rather late in the afternoon , which meant we had no time to really explore the area but I thought it was worth go there.  Little pity was that ash trees had lost all their leaves so it looked pretty boring out where there was forest .But we managed to go the entire distance back and forth until it was pitch black and it took about 3.5tim . Must go back in the spring when everything is blooming in the valley. The second day we went to another place in the south but it will be in the next blog.

Stepping stones

Intresting rock formations

Money tree

The cave place

Stepping stones

On the other side of the valley

Nice pillar

One more cave

November 11, 2013

Early Morning Walk at Ladybower Reservoir

I have an annoying FLU since 2-3 weeks back so I haven't really been able to cope with strenuous walking or biking to my usual photo locations.
So early one morning, I had the good fortune that I got a ride to Ladybower Reservoir, to be there before the sun came up. I've only been there once so early in the morning and this morning I went to a small beech forest and hoped for nice autumn colors. Once on site I realised that it was not as I expected. The nice summer we had has postponed everything, not that I'm complaining :) 
Walking out there is anyway always nice and I was joined by 4 - 5 hooting tawny owls and once it brightened properly, I saw about 30 Mandarin ducks which was a bit surprising, did not know they every landed there
The sun began to rise over the hills and was shining nicely on to the other side where there is little larch forest. I took some pictures and just enjoyed the nice weather. After an hour, the light began to be pretty harsh and flat so I started walking back towards the bus but as usual had many stops along the way.