Sunday, 18 December 2011

Nine Lessons and Carols, Leek

The Christmas Nine Lessons and Carols service in All Saints, Leek
This evening Lyn and I went to the Christmas service of Nine Lessons and Carols in the magnificent church of All Saints’, Leek. The building, dating from 1885, is a stunning, Grade I listed, Arts & Crafts Church  designed by Norman Shaw, one of the leading architects of the movement. It has many examples of Arts and Crafts style decoration in the wall-paintings, stained glass (some by William Morris) and embroideries. 

Friday, 9 December 2011

Santa's Express

Black 5 "George Stephenson" at Cheddleton
(Canon EOS 60D, Sigma 17-70mm @ 25mm, 1/500s @ f/11)
This superb locomotive, an LMS Stanier Black 5, is based on the Churnet Valley Railway for the winter season. It is being put to good use during December hauling the "Santa's Express" specials. The loco was built for the LMS in 1947 and withdrawn from main line service in 1967. Since then it has been restored and has visited several preserved railways, most recently the North York Moors Railway. The loco was never named during it time in mainline service. The name was given in 1975 to commemorate the 150th anniversary of George Stephenson's Stockton and Darlington Railway.

Monday, 5 December 2011

First Snow

The first snow of winter
(Canon EOS 60D, Canon 55-250mm IS @ 250mm, 1/1600s @ f/5.6)
A light covering of snow lies on Morridge in the Peak District National Park while the lower slopes remain clear with the last of the autumn leaves on the trees. This photo taken today from my study window.

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Gawsworth Church

Gawsworth Church
(Canon EOS 60D, Sigma 17-70mm @ 44mm, 1/400s @ f/8.0)
At last, a chance to get out for a walk! Windy, cold and bright today so I went for a 10Km walk in East Cheshire. I started from North Rode and walked to Gawsworth and then back via the Macclesfield Canal. This pastoral autumn view of the church tower of the 15th century Gawsworth parish church (St. James) was the scenic highlight of the walk.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Rudyard Woodland Track

Rudyard Lake Steam Railway line through woodland
(Canon EOS 60D, Sigma 17-70mm @ 22mm, 1/400s @ f/8.0 ISO400)
The track for the 10.25" gauge Rudyard Lake Steam Railway runs alongside the old trackbed of the North Staffordshire Railway branch line from Uttoxeter to North Rode near Macclesfield. This line was closed by Beeching in the 1960s but a few miles has been reopened the other side of Leek as the Churnet Valley Railway. I like the sun dappled track way in this photo.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Rudyard in Autumn

Rudyard Village
(Canon EOS 60D, Sigma 17-70mm @ 30mm, 1/1000s @ f/8.0 ISO 400)
Another photo taken last Sunday morning. Autumn colours still lingering on the trees though the leaves are falling fast now. The writer Rudyard Kipling was named after this village by his parents - perhaps he was conceived here! I might have told you this before. The weather is not like that today: dull and drizzly in Leek.

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Waiting For The Off

"King Arthur" waits for the signal on a cold November morning
(Canon EOS 60D, Sigma 17-70mm @ 70mm, 3 images tone mapped in Photomatix)
King Arthur is one of four miniature locomotives on the Rudyard Lake Steam Railway. I was surprised to find that they continue to run on Sundays throughout the year, the only exception being December when they run a few "Santa Specials". All the engines have Arthurian names; King Arthur, Excalibur, Pendragon and Merlin.

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Ilam Cross

Mary Watts-Russell Memorial Cross, Ilam
(Canon EOS 60D, Sigma 17-70mm @ 17.0mm, 1/320s @ f/8.0 ISO 400)
Constructed in the style of the 13th century "Eleanor Crosses", this Victorian monument was built in 1841 as a memorial to the late wife, Mary, of Jesse Watts-Russell of nearby Ilam Hall. Until very recently, the cross was shrouded in scaffolding while restoration work was carried out. The top section of the cross was blown down in a freak storm in the 1960s. It was replaced with a rather crudely carved, plain cemetery style pillar and cross quite quickly, but this was totally out of character with the elegant carving of the rest of the cross. A charitable trust was formed in 2003 which raised sufficient funds to have the top of the cross restored to its original beauty. The work was carried out in the last two years. In one of the six lower niches of the cross is an inscription which reads:

This Crofs and Fountain
erected by her husband
perpetuate the memory of
one who lives in the hearts
of many in this village and
Mary Watts Russell
Free as for all these crystal waters flow
Her gentle eyes would weep for others woe
Dried is that fount but long may this endure
To be a well of comfort to the poor

The "crystal waters" refer to a trough round the base of the cross fed from a clear spring on nearby Bunster Hill.
The Inscription

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Washgate Bridge

Washgate Bridge

(Canon EOS 60D, Tamron 10-24mm @ 14mm, 1/100s @ f10)
Washgate Bridge is a little known and visited 18th century packhorse bridge over the River Dove near Hollinsclough. The steep, winding, cobbled lane which leads to and from the bridge has, in the past, been severely damaged by 4x4s. Now, the Peak Park authority has prevented most vehicles from using the route by placing large stones at each end of the route and at the ford over the river - hence the rather intrusive  sign. This photo was taken in a brief sunny interval on a rainy and windy morning walk!

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Thorpe Cloud

Thorpe Cloud from Bunster Hill
(Canon EOS 60D, Tamron 10-24mm @ 11mm, 1/400s @ f/9.0)
This photo was taken on my walk this afternoon. Thorpe Cloud and Bunster Hill stand like giant gateposts to the entrance to Dove Dale. Bunster Hill is a huge, rolling, sheep-grazed upland while Thorpe Cloud stands isolated like a great pyramid. Despite being only a little over 300 meters tall Thorpe Cloud has every appearance of being a real mountain.

Friday, 30 September 2011

Southern Hawker

Male Southern Hawker (Aeshna cyanea) in flight
(Canon EOS 60D, Canon EF-S 55-250mm IS @ 100mm, 1/500s @ f/8.0)

The "Indian Summer" that we are experiencing at the moment is great. We went for a walk at Consall Nature Park today and saw this male Southern Hawker. The in-flight photo is not quite in focus but is the best of over 50 shots!
We also saw Migrant and Brown Hawkers.

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Blue-tailed Damselfly

(Canon EOS 60D, Canon 55-250mm IS @ 230mm, 1/250s @ f/8.0)
Blue-tailed Damselfly at Consall Nature Park.

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Condlyffe Almshouses, Leek

The Condlyffe Almshouses (Northern Range)
(Canon EOS 60D, Tamron 10-24mm @ 10mm, 1/500s @ f/11, ISO 400)
These fine Victorian almshouses were built in 1882 on land donated by Elizabeth Condlyffe. Although there is some doubt about the identity of the architect, the homes were reputedly designed by Norman Shaw, a noted follower of the "Arts and Crafts" movement in his "Old English" style and the architect of the nearby All Saints' church. There are two ranges of homes, separated by an elegant stone archway. The photo shows the northern range. The gables carry a religious motto: "The days of my labour O [Lord] thou hast Blest [Blest] be the hand of Thy love [...] the days of my rest". The gables of the other, southern range bear the motto: "The Lord shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth for evermore".

Monday, 15 August 2011

Croxden Abbey

Croxden Abbey
(All photos, Canon EOS 60D, Tamron 10-24mm)
Note: All photos will enlarge if clicked

Tucked away down quiet country lanes near Alton, Staffordshire is the impressive ruin of Croxden Abbey. Croxden was built for Cistercian monks by Bertram de Verdun of Alton Castle. It was started in 1179 and took 30 years to build.

The Abbot's House

The Chapter House and the Sacristy

The remains of the cloister
Remains of the crossing tower (HDR)
The abbey church was 240 ft long and very tall. It must have been a magnificent sight! The design was unusual for an English abbey being more like the classic French abbeys.
Sacristy and Book Room

Passage way to the Cloister
Looking along the body of the church from the Apse to the West Front in the distance
The Apse had a semicircle of 5 chapels, unique for an English abbey. Unfortunately, all that remains of the apse and the east end of the church are the foundations.
The sarcophagi in the east end of the church were probably the burial places of the founders and sponsors of the abbey.
The West front

Looking towards the West front from the interior of the church
The west front, with its soaring lancet windows still stands and is very impressive. The abbey was never very prosperous, the monks farmed sheep, and its demise came with the dissolution of the monasteries by Henry VIII in 1538.
Afternoon shadows cast by the West front (HDR)
Dramatic HDR photo of the West front and the afternoon sun

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Cheddleton Station

Prairie Tank 5199 passing through Cheddleton Station
(Panasonic Lumix TZ10)

I spent today doing a 10 hour shift as a volunteer crossing keeper on the Churnet Valley Railway. This photo shows Prairie tank 5199 passing through Cheddleton on the way to Leekbrook Junction. The Cheddleton Station building was built in the 19th century and its design is attributed to Pugin.

Sunday, 31 July 2011

Macclesfield Forest

Ridgegate Reservoir with Tegg's Nose beyond
(Canon EOS 60D, Tamron 10-24mm @ 24mm, 1/250s @ f/8.0)
Macclesfield Forest is the remnant of the Royal Forest of Macclesfield, a medieval hunting forest. The forest is now mainly a conifer plantation but there are several walking and cycling recreational trails. There are two reservoirs within the forest, Ridgegate and Trentabank. These supply drinking water to the town of Macclesfield.

Red-trunked Pines in the conifer plantation
Despite the predominance of conifers, the forest is a pleasant place for walks. There are some areas of deciduous planting with flowering plants and butterflies along the forest rides.

Rosebay Willowherb
I know that it's a weed, but the individual flowers of Rosebay Willowherb are very pretty.

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Foxt Church

Foxt Church
(Canon EOS 60D, Tamron 10-24mm @ 24mm, 1/500s @ f/8.0)
St. Mark the Evangelist church in the village of Foxt was built in 1837 as a private chapel later given to the diocese of Lichfield. It is reported that the church cost £800 to build, and still it stands with its sturdy tower.

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Pugin's Gem

St Giles, Cheadle
(Canon EOS 60D, Tamron 10-24mm @ 10mm, 1/25s @ f/4.0, ISO 1600)

The Roman Catholic church of St Giles in Cheadle, Staffordshire is known as Pugin's Gem. The great Victorian architect, A. W. N. Pugin was best known for his Gothic style buildings. He was commissioned and financed by John Talbot, 16th Earl of Shrewsbury. Pugin had carried out extensive work at Talbot's home, Alton Towers (yes, that one). Pugin was determined that St Giles would be a perfect Gothic Catholic church and, thanks to Talbot's patronage, he seems to have succeeded. The interior of the church is jaw-droppingly opulent. Every surface is painted in bright colours. Much gilding has been used and the best wood and stone carvers were employed to model the fittings.

The pulpit was carved by Thomas Roddis from a single block of stone from the Alton Towers estate.

There are many superb stained glass windows by William Wailes of Newcastle-upon-Tyne. Note the intricately painted walls surrounding the window.

The high altar and reredos were also carved by Thomas Roddis. Above is a "Jesse" window depicting the life of Christ, an unusual theme in a Victorian church, and to the right is the Sedilia where the Priest, Deacon and Sub-deacon would sit. The encaustic floor tiles were made by the Potteries firm of Minton.

It is amazing that a small market town in North Staffordshire should have such a magnificent church. Visit it if you can!

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Little Moreton Hall

Little Moreton Hall
(Canon EOS 60D, Tamron 10-24mm @21mm, 1/800s @ f/7.1)
Little Moreton Hall, near Congleton, is the most magnificent half-timbered Elizabethan manor house in England. The hall was built in the 15th century and extended during the 16th by the Moreton family who had bought 1,000 acres of the farmland of Cheshire several decades earlier. One of the later additions to the structure was the long gallery at the top of the building. This was probably ill-advised as the weight of the materials used in this extension caused the building to distort, hence the crooked appearance of this gallery. The moat surrounding the building was never meant as a defensive structure but was dug out to drain the marshy plot of land upon which the house was to be built.

The Knot Garden and the rear of the house
The gardens have been restored to reflect typical formal gardens of the period. The house is fascinating and well worth a visit. It has been in the care of the National Trust since 1938.

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Grindon Well Dressing

Grindon Well Dressing
(Canon EOS 60D, Tamron 10-24mm @ 17mm, 1/60s @ f/8.0)
Well Dressings are an annual feature of village life in the Peak District. In the past, the wells were dressed to give thanks for the water and the theme of the well dressing was usually religious. More latterly, secular themes have been used; in this case celebrating the 60th anniversary of the establishment of the Peak District National Park. Grindon Well Dressing took place last weekend. Unfortunately, the poor weather has not been kind to this example as the rain has washed away some of the materials.
Detail of the image
A mosaic of petals, leaves, seeds and twigs are pressed into a bed of wet clay to make the tableaux. Some of the villagers grow plants especially to provide the necessary materials.
While in Grindon, the sign below gave me a laugh!

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Throwley Old Hall

Throwley Old Hall
(Canon EOS 60D, Tamron 10-24mm @ 17mm, 1/250s @ f/8.0)
Today's walk took me from the car park at Weag's Bridge in the Manifold Valley for 9 kms via the Hamps Valley, Soles Wood, Throwley Moor and back via the Manifold Trail. on the way I passed Throwley Old Hall, an imposing Tudor/Elizabethan ruin situated above the Manifold valley. It was built for the Meverell family, the owners of the Throwley estate, in the early 16th century, probably on the site of an earlier manor house. The building was still complete in 1845 but since that time stones have been taken to build nearby farm buildings and the roof had been removed by 1921. The drawing below (from the nearby information board) shows what the hall may have looked like when in its glory.

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

The Monsal Trail

Chee Tor Tunnels on the Monsal Trail
The Monsal Trail is a mixed use cycle and walking trail that goes from Bakewell to Blackwell Mill near Buxton. Recently, the tunnels on the trail have been opened and it is now possible to complete the journey following the track of the Midland Railway line, closed in the 1960s.
 (Canon EOS 60D, Tamron 10-24mm @24mm, 3 exposures HDR tonemapped in Photomatix)

Inside Chee Tor Tunnel No 1
The longer tunnels are lit until dusk. This was once a very important line linking London and Manchester. The last train to use the line ran in 1968.
 (Canon EOS 60D, Tamron 10-24mm @ 24mm, 1/13s @ f4.5, ISO 6400)

Monday, 4 July 2011

Chee Dale

Chee Dale
The footpath through this delightful dale all but disappears in a couple of places where the limestone cliff walls drop vertically to the River Wye. The Peak District Park Rangers have installed stepping stones so that, with care, one can walk the length of the dale with dry feet!
(Canon EOS 60D, Tamron 10-24mm @ 13mm, 1/200s @ f/7.1)

Friday, 1 July 2011

Brough Park

Brough Park, The Bandstand
Leek is lucky to have a very pleasant public park. Brough Park was created on land given by two local landowners, W. S. Brough and Joseph Tatton. The Bandstand is situated in a prominent position atop a rise in the ground. The park is home to open space, the leisure centre, a formal garden and pond, skate park and bowling green.
 (Panasonic Lumix TZ10)

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Frank i' th' Rocks

Frank i' th' Rocks
This limestone cliff and cave is at the point where Beresford Dale becomes Wolfscote Dale. Local lore has it that a cobbler named Frank had his workshop here. What is more certain is that the cave was investigated in the early 20th century and the remains of several individuals dating from the iron age were found.
 (Canon EOS 60D, Tamron 10-24mm @15mm, 1/250s @ f/7.1)

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Biddulph Grange Garden

"China" in the Biddulph Grange Garden
The garden was created by James Bateman in the 19th century and is now owned by the National Trust. There are several thematic gardens within the whole including this Chinese inspired one. Others include "Italy" and "Egypt" complete with yew tree clipped into a pyramid!
(Canon EOS 60D, Tamron 10-24mm @ 11mm, 1/500s @ f/7.1)

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Ecton Hill

Ecton Hill and Wetton Hill
Cows graze the slopes above Wetton Mill in this photo of Ecton Hill and Wetton Hill in the Peak District National Park.
(Canon EOS 60D, Tamron 10-24mm @ 11mm, 3 exposures HDR in Photomatix)