“A Wander to Wonder” by David Woodthorpe, 15th January 2020

On January 15th the current Chairman of our society, David Woodthorpe, gave a fascinating presentation featuring his immediate locality.  David  lives in Grange in Borrowdale and for the last few years has regularly repeated an early morning walk around surrounding area.

 

Although his route is not long, perhaps four miles if he completes the entire circuit, it takes him through a wide variety of natural habitats and it is his patience to just stand and watch and listen that makes his walk such a source of satisfaction and pleasure for him.

 

David is a talented photographer and we were able to share, through his photographs, some of the fascinating creatures and plants he has studied, from the tiniest of Leafhopper insects, just a few millimetres long to Roe Deer and the sheep and cattle in the fields he passes through.

 

Such an interest means that his walk has become a gentle wander rather than a route march and he never knows how long it will take him, or even how much of the whole route he will undertake; indeed he has written a very well received book “A Wander to Wonder: The Best Walk in Borrowdale” which is heavily illustrated with his own photographs.

Crossing the iconic double arched bridge over the River Derwent, (we saw photos of the river in flood during Storm Desmond as well as the unfortunate bus that crashed into the parapet),

 

his walk takes him up onto rather boggy fellside, a macro-photography paradise, with damselflies and numerous other insects as well fascinating plants such as the insectivorous Sundew

 

and then up onto Grange Crag which has fantastic views in all directions in spite of its lowly altitude. It is up here that David’s skill as a landscape photographer comes to the fore, at times aided by his ability to scramble into the best viewpoint to look directly down onto Grange village,

 

a sight not enjoyed by his wife Marilyn who was apparently watching fearfully from their house. Dropping down into Troutdale gives him the possibility of spotting Red Squirrels and Woodpeckers

before he emerges onto the Borrowdale road and crossing onto the fields running beside the River Derwent.

It is here that he may come into contact with some of the grazing livestock and he gave, what was for most of us,  new facts about sheep management that he had gleaned in conversation with the local farmers who have become well used to him passing their way. He told us about Sand Martins nesting near the Chinese Bridge

 

and had managed the impressive feat of photographing some of these speedsters in flight. The raised walkway is another habitat altogether and it is an area that David got to know individual birds such as Reed Buntings or Willow Warblers

knowing exactly which branch of which bush he was likely to see them on; and having the patience to wait until they returned as predicted with a mouthful of insects for their young. Such fieldcraft as well as the individual birds getting used to him allowed him to take fantastic photographs.

And so the walk continues over wet and dry areas, past fields and woodland before gently ambling back down the back road into Grange. We were left greatly impressed by David’s enthusiastic presentation of what is the very traditional British trait of an enthusiastic amateur natural historian getting thoroughly to know his local patch, (think Gilbert White and the village of Selbourne from the 18th century), but with the added dimension of superb photography to record it all.

Memorable Places, January 29th 2020

Our meeting of 29th January comprised of presentations by ten of our members of ten images, each with the theme of “Memorable Places”. This was organised by Julie Walker who had chosen the theme and had collated all our images.

Tony Marsh started off with photographs all taken one, still, morning last November walking through the woods near Manesty. Tony described how it was memorable for the morning light and the beautifully frosted trees and grasses:

 

Richard Jakobson also showed images taken in Cumbria. Clints quarry is an abandoned limestone quarry which is now a site of special scientific interest managed by Cumbria Wildlife Trust. Richard showed images taken over recent years of the orchids, kestrels, buzzards, dragonflies and other wildlife to be seen there:

 

Ken Rennie’s Memorable place was Glen Affric in Scotland and he showed us a series of very atmospheric landscape images taken last October.  Several of his images were shot with very unusual light bathing the landscape before the sun had actually risen. There were also photographs of the River Affric demonstrating the colours of the autumn foliage:

 

Keith Snell photographs were memorable for him as they were taken in a location new to him, Liguria, Italy, and also because they were taken on a workshop aimed at honing his creative photographic skills. As well as slow shutter images of Ligurian seascapes there were also photographs combined together in a panel of four showing the varying colours and textures visible in a mountain stream:

 

Deborah Tippett also found Italy memorable, but in a slightly different context. She was travelling around Puglia on a back of a bike. Most of her photographs, by necessity, were taken with a small compact camera. She presented us a range of images from seascapes to ancient olive trees to Puglian villages to local architecture:

 

Italy certainly rated highly in the “memorable stakes” as the next presentation, by Carmen Norman, was of photographs taken on a trip to the Dolomites last October. Carmen showed us a series of landscape images which demonstrated to the full the exceptional beauty of the Dolomite mountains, particularly when shot in wonderful light. Of note was an image of a “fog bow” taken with Carmen’s silhouette centred beneath the bow and a background of the Dolomites in the morning light:

 

Alan Walker’s memorable place was much further afield in Alaska. The journey there involved travelling the final stage in a small plane, which from the photograph he showed us, appeared to be constructed from recycled tin cans and paper clips! The purpose of such a trek was to photograph grizzly bears in their natural habitat. Alan presented a series of photographs of bears and cubs on the seashore hunting for salmon and clams and also in meadow grassland:

 

Further still than Alaska is Hiroshima where Aline Hopkins went in the spring. This was primarily to photograph the cherry blossom but Aline reminded us that this year will be the 75th anniversary of the atom bomb being dropped on Hiroshima. She showed us images of the Memorial Park  including the iconic Genbaku Dome which is all that remains of a huge hall located there before the bombing. On a lighter note there were also several images of the also iconic, white cherry blossom:

 

The final two memorable places were both in South East Asia. Tom Stenhouse showed photographs taken on a trip from the south to the north of Vietnam. Tom told us he tried to capture the essence of the people of Vietnam as well as the environment they live in, both of which have been impacted by the decades of conflict prior to unification. His photographs included ancient fishing coracles, a barge scooping refuse out of the Mekong river, Vietnamese children in western dress with 4G smartphones:

 

Julie Walker’s images were from Tonié Sap, the largest freshwater lake in southeast asia. Julie’s photographs showed the people who live there and how they live. Due to the normally huge rise in water level in the wet season most live in houses built on stilts or built floating on brushwood rafts. Whilst presenting her images Julie commented on the serious threats to the area due to climate change and overfishing:

 

 

All of the images shown can be viewed on our gallery page:

Images entered into our 2019-2020 internal competitions