history, landscape, Shropshire, Stone

Mitchell’s Fold

the ancient stone circle at Mitchell's Fold with Corndon Hill behind in the distance
Mitchell’s Fold with Corndon Hill behind

No-one knows who they were or what they were doing, but their legacy remains…

There are only two neolithic stone circles remaining in Shropshire, and by far the best is Mitchell’s Fold.  (The other is the nearby Hoarstones)

It’s not like Stonehenge, it doesn’t have the enormous and technologically impressive trilithons,  and it’s not like the village encircling stones at Avebury – it’s a lot smaller (about 25m across), and the stones aren’t nearly as impressive.

The circle dates from about 4000 years ago, and sits 330m above sea level, with some great views.  Some of the stones are 6ft tall, most a lot shorter. Some have fallen over.  About half of them are missing.  One seems to be buried in the centre of the circle (and is a petrified witch, if you believe the rather fanciful local legends).

No-one has any solid idea what it was for, only guesses.

I’ve been meaning to visit for over a year now, but always things get in the way. Mostly weather.  I’ve been trying to interest friends into coming along, and this week the stars aligned and I had both beautiful weather and (beautiful) friends.

It got off to a bad start when the sat-nav insisted we travel most of the way down single-width country lanes – dodging the many and seemingly suicidal baby pheasant – when there was a perfectly good A-road to take us 95% of the way.   When we finally got out of the car we decided to take a shortcut that involved hacking through head-high bracken straight up a steep hill,  although we eventually realised the shortcut took four times as long as the route would have taken otherwise.  We’d have been faster without 3 children and 2 dogs. It got a bit chaotic.

When we finally got to Mitchell’s Fold, we found a small herd of cows grazing between the stones, and in some cases using them as scratching posts.

We ate our picnic, then spent the afternoon up there chatting and throwing balls for the dogs. We’ll definitely be going back.

 

 

Camera, landscape, Nature, Photography

The Severn Way

Shrewsbury is a small town, and you’re never too far from the countryside, but I didn’t realise just  how close. Follow a narrow track from the town’s large Frankwell car park, past the cricket ground, and you are in fields, and following the Severn Way.

Your path leads you through meadows along the river Severn, past black cows blithely chewing, through gates, past allotments,  along the ends of gardens, up stone steps that seemingly go the wrong way, past the back of the garden where Charles Darwin grew up,  through green tunnels barely wider than your shoulders, along the snaking and winding river, all with the faint rumble of traffic only 2 or 3 fields away.

The path peters out after a few miles, and it’s possible to return to your start point in a fraction of the time, as the road goes in a more-or-less straight line. Or, do as I did and retrace your steps. Things look different going the other direction, anyway.

 

All photos taken with Lomo LC-A

Camera, landscape, Photography, Shropshire, Stone, trees

Expired Film, Lomo LC-A

Quantum Leap Sculpture
Quantum Leap Sculpture

I’ve discovered that some of my rolls of film are waaayy past their use-by date, sometimes by ten years or so.  So now my project this year is to use all the really old films before they’re unusable. They are mostly B&W, although there is some colour slide film.

The roll of Agfa APX100 here should have been used by November 2010.

Some film forums advise shooting expired black and white film as if it were half the advertised speed to compensate for the changed film chemistry.  I recently shot some seriously expired Fuji Neopan and found them to be too dark, so this makes sense.   As it turns out these shots mostly came out too bright! Luckily film is fairly forgiving.

The main problem was half of the film being blank – the batteries were failing, so about every other shot the camera’s shutter didn’t open (I didn’t discover this until I got the developed negatives back).  Some of the shots look a little soft, that’s a ‘feature’ of the lens on the Lomo LC-A.

Here then are a few shots of Shrewsbury.

landscape, Nature, Photography, Shropshire, Stone, Voigtlander

Stiperstones

On the weekend before Christmas, I went with friends for a walk up the Stiperstones, a hill in south Shropshire.  The summit ridge runs for 8km, and features several jagged quartzite rock outcrops, which make for dramatic photographs (I hope).

It was a bright, sunny day, but once we got onto the hills it was surprisingly cold*. It always seems bleak up Stiperstones, for some reason.  It’s 20 years since I last went there, and it was bleak then, too.  I was juggling 2 cameras with increasingly numb fingers**, not easy when one is a 1946 VoigtlanderBessa , with some fiddly adjustments necessary just to get the device to open.

One of the rocky outcrops is known as the Devil’s Chair, one of several bits of folklore attached to the area. Apparently the Devil dropped a load of rocks he was carrying in his apron (!) and just left them there, although he does use the rocks as a chair to address evil spirits, witches and the like on the longest night of the year.

In another story, the ghost of Wild Edric rides the hills whenever England is threatened with invasion.  He was last spotted in 1853 before the Crimean war, although I don’t think we were threatened with invasion at that time.  Wild Edric is also said to haunt the Stretton Hills as an enormous black dog with fiery eyes. Of course he does.

*It was late December, that should have given me a clue. At least it didn’tr rain.

**I was in a rush and forgot my gloves. That’s not happening again.

Camera, landscape, Nature, Photography

Ynyslas Day Trip

I had a day trip to the beach this week, postponed so many times because of bad weather forecasts for my day off. I had the whole of this week off, so I could choose the day.

The plan was this: catch the train to Borth, then walk a couple of miles up the coast to Ynyslas*. Once there I would record the sounds of the surf on my Tascam, and then sit in the dunes and strum my travel acoustic guitar.

I got there early to avoid the crowds (although the kids went back to school that week, so it was fairly quiet anyway), so I got the 7.30 train.

It all went to plan, except for the bit where I dropped the battery cover from the digital recorder into the rocks, lost forever. Plus I dropped my phone at one point – luckily not into water – and did’t realise for 5 minutes. The ten minutes spent retracing my steps was a bit stressful.

The recordings came out well. My guitar improvisations – with lovely surf roar backing – sound much better than I expected, and I’ve already started work on them. Watch this space, as they say.

*Inn-iss-lass

Avebury, Camera, landscape, Photography, Stone, Wiltshire

Some More Avebury Photos

I took quite a few photos during my visit, and never inflicted all that many on you. So, while my roll of film is (finally) getting developed (I misplaced it), here are some more of the digital shots i took.