Sunday, 5 November 2017

The last chance saloon

Another sunny Sunday saw me heading, late again, for the AONB to try and find a photographic direction to approach it from. I'd chosen to take an indirect route and in so doing I would pass the Moorcock which I'd photographed the remains of recently. I was shocked to see there was next to nothing left of the old pub. Yet another reminder to photograph things before it's too late. After my previous visit I did some Googling and found that the Urbex crowd had been inside it. So it's final years have been recorded.

Reading between the on-line lines about the history of the Moorcock it strikes me that its failure was down to expansion of the property with exaggerated expectations for the business to be generated. They might have succeeded closer to a large urban area, or even in a more touristy localle. But half way up a bleak moor miles from the nearest town? The sun has finally set on The Moorcock Inn.

With little left except rubble there wasn't a lot of photographs to be made there, so I carried on to...

My intention was to head up the valley to see what there is to see. The the Ordnance Survey and Google maps suggested there might be some landscape features which would appeal to my aesthetic. Nonetheless with the sun bright on the fells I couldn't resist trying (and failing) to make a postcard picture. Even then I deliberately included the power lines.

Sure enough, further upstream it soon became obvious that this is an industrial landscape. Signs of tree felling and replanting are easy to spot, but hidden away, breaking surface fitfully, is the water pipeline. Much of the land in the AONB is owned by the water supply company. Most of the rest of it belongs to Mrs. E. Windsor or the 9th richest person in Britain (as of 2017). However there is a lot of it legally accessible these days, which I think might have pleased Fay Godwin.

While one of Godwin's themes was land ownership her concerns were with restrictions of public access and the despoiling of the landscape. I'm interested in land ownership and usage too, but not in a campaigning way. Unless it's pointing out the similarities between conservation organisations and sporting estates in keeping the riff-raff of their land!

Mostly I'm fascinated by the way man-made structures appear in the 'natural' environment. I don't see them as heroic or unsightly. The longer they are there the more they become part of the whole. We often overlook them, or take them for granted. Unlike some people I don't have a hierarchy of acceptable structures. The drystone walls and stone barns of the Yorkshire dales are thought to be picturesque. A cast iron pipe crossing a bracken covered clough is thought to be ugly. I can't see why.

My biggest failing when it comes to landscape pictures, of any sort, is impatience. I can't be bothered with the fuss of setting up a tripod, and even worse I can't be bothered waiting for the light to improve the pictures. More dedicated photographers than me will get into position early, set the tripod up, set the camera, then lounge around eating their snap until the light 'makes the picture'. I'd either fall asleep or wander off doing something else. Either way I'd end up missing the perfect light that lasted for a fleeting moment!

Whenever I have the work of Fay Godwin in mind I try making square, black and white, pictures of a landscape-ish sort.

For some reason bald skies seem to work better in black and white than in colour.

I liked the idea of the photo below of a blocked hogg hole that I briefly considered seeking more of these features out and making a series of similar shots. Then I remembered that I'd get bored doing that sort of typology project.

Up the valley I was wondering how it had got so late and why I was feeling knackered. Measuring the distance I'd walked using Google maps when I returned to civilisation I found the answer why. It was almost five miles. And still no closer to sorting out the project.

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