Sunday, 22 February 2015

Mother Mountain

I've decided to concentrate a little on my much neglected landscape work for the foreseeable future, but that doesn't mean I will be forsaking my wildlife portfolio in the meantime...On the contrary because I usually always pack my larger lenses when on a shoot for fear of missing something unexpected!
Yesterday the plan was to walk up to the summit of Mam Tor (Mother Mountain) high in the Derbyshire Peak District and hopefully capture the sunrise along the Great Ridge...
I left home around 5.45am to give myself plenty of time to drive to the location, get up to the summit and set up my equipment in anticipation of what nature had to offer. Unfortunately with best laid plans and all that, things didn't go quite the way I was hoping for!
The drive in darkness to Derbyshire was uneventful until I reached the elevated village of Chapel en le Frith and it was at this point I realised I might have to change my plans due to the first flurries of snow that were falling and causing what I call the 'Star Wars' effect...This is when the snowflakes bounce off the car windscreen in a unrelenting manner and in the darkness give the impression that you're driving through the opening titles of the classic sci-fi movie! At this point I was in two minds about what to do because the weather in this part of the world can be unforgiving and unpredictable at the best of times, but I decided to carry on to the location and then access the situation.
I arrived at the base of the mountain at around 6.30am and by this time there was a blizzard blowing. I got out of my car to weigh up the scene and the -8c wind chill factor helped me decided that this wasn't perhaps the best of conditions to tackle Mam Tor's slippery slopes in the dark.
I poured myself a cup of hot green tea (life saver!) from my flask and watched a while as the battle between the wind and the snow unfolded with the ultimate prize for the snow being the chance to settle on the mountain.
Soon, night time became twilight and I set my camera up at the base of Mam Tor to capture a record shot before heading off to a more accessible location. 

Mam Tor base in twilight
I decided to head off towards Sheffield and had a very nice couple of hours capturing Owler Tor in beautiful early morning winter sunshine...Results of this shoot will be published on another occasion!
Pleased with my early morning results from Owler Tor, I pondered for a while about where to go next to make the most of the good light and decided to drive back to Castleton because it offers many different options.
The option I decided on however was to head back to Mam Tor and although disappointed not to get the sunrise shots earlier, I thought I owed it to myself to get at least something from the mountain.
The snow on Mam Tor wasn't as bad as it had threatened to be earlier, although still slippery underfoot and bitterly cold I managed to make it about 3/4 of the way up before deciding not to go any further.
From this altitude I shot the summit...


 Mam Tor Summit

The above image is still a couple or three hundred feet from the top and the bleakness of the landscape doesn't really give any clue to this sense of this scale.
From this same height, I panned my camera around to the other side of the mountain and captured a view of some isolated trees on the down slope...

Mam Tor Trees

Finally, the main point of putting all the effort of reaching these sort of vantage points, in all weathers and at hours when a lot of people are still in bed on a Saturday morning is the views.
Here is a shot of the Hope Valley from the lower slopes of Mam Tor, with the famous cement works chimney puffing out smoke to the right of the image...

Hope Valley From Mam Tor

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