MENDIP HILLS 18 – THE VIEW SOUTHEAST FROM EASTWATER LANE (MONO)

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Looking southeast from Eastwater Lane, high up on the Mendip plateau; 4 Feb 2014.

In their central and western reaches, the Mendip Hills of Somerset are a steep sided and formidable, west-east barrier of hard, old (Palaeozoic) rocks.  They have the Old Red Sandstone of the Devonian period in their cores, and the Carboniferous Limestone all around.  But especially in their central area, these precipitous slopes give up onto a flattish or gently undulating plateau, with sturdy farms huddling amongst windbreaks, and pubs with evocative names – names that recall my youth and things that have always been a part of my life – the Castle of Comfort, the Miner’s Arms and Hunters Lodge.

Wondering about floods, I drove up onto Mendip yesterday, and spent some time in Eastwater Lane – a favourite place because it is a dead end and so has no through traffic.  I was also around the village of Priddy.  It was a cold, damp day, initially lit by pale, glinting sun, but with dark clouds and spitting rain all too soon coming up on the gusting southerly.  There were flood warnings in several places, but the waters had either subsided, or were only thinly masking the little roads – although all of that may have changed with the storm that hit us later yesterday afternoon and overnight – and today too.

I walked along Eastwater Lane, enjoying  the sight and atmosphere of the Bronze Age round barrows on the hill crests, and seeing where streams running down from the sandstone hilltops disappear underground into caverns as soon as they encounter the far more soluble limestone. 

Here was Eastwater Cavern, that I descended as a plump, pudgy teenager, and I tried to recall if I’d become stuck in it or not.  Yes, is the probable answer, as I had to be helped through many a difficult cave by my school friends – but the vast Swildons Hole, from which the Mendip Cave Rescue had to come out and extricate me, is off towards Priddy.  I made the local papers – I think I was 16 at the time.

D800 with 80-400 Nikkor at 400mm; Silver Efex Pro 2’s Film Noir 3 preset.
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30 comments

      • Wow! I used to sing this one with the kids. meaningful or not, thanks for the huge smile. 😀

        I’m a little tea pot short and stout, here’s my handle. (place right hand on hip here please) Here’s my spout. (the left arm should be raised here, with the elbow bent at about right angle and the hand tilted slightly downward at the wrist).
        … When the kettle’s boiling here me shout, pick me up (stand on tip toes and lean to the left) … and pour me out. 😀 😀 😀

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    • Thanks, my friend! I was a caver of little ability – although I now have occasional bouts of claustrophobia, I delighted in very constricted passages in those days – simply because, if you’re in somewhere “tight” (as we called it), there was less possibility of falling anywhere! I used to be able to squeeze my supple flab (have I put you off your cornflakes?) through about 12 inches in one dimension – I really truly shudder to think of that now – my chest pressed to the floor, and the roof pressing on my back. >>> OMG OMG OMG!!!!!!!

      Went to the Levels yesterday – “my” bit less flooded than the areas south of the Poldens, but still very wet. As soon as I got off the main road, problems appeared. Hope you’re fine! A 🙂

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  1. Your commendable inclusion of the geological history behind this area helps to bring it to imaginary life for those of us who haven’t been there in person. I don’t suppose you were yet into photography when you were spelunking back in yesteryear?

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    • Hello, Gary – well I was taking photos, my mother had just bought me an Ilford Sportsman (35mm at last!) to replace the simpler camera I’d been given years before, but I don’t think I ever took any photos underground. One of my caving friends was very much into such photography though and somewhere I probably have black and white prints – but where???

      Geology has always been within me, right from around the age of 5 or so – I can still recall finding my first fossil. One thing that geology does is provide another way of looking at landscape, and I value that. Adrian

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  2. Beautiful image. When I was still in the UK I lived in Bristol for around 12 yrs. I used to spend a lot of weekends around Burnham on Sea and so know this area well (and others you photo) – it’s wonderful scenery and you capture it so well. 🙂 .

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    • Hello, Lisa – I’m glad you like the image. Yes I’m in Bristol now, but really my heart is down in Somerset – and of course I know Burnham well – including a place there that does glorious full breakfasts! Thank you for the good things you say about my photography! Adrian 🙂

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    • Thanks, Igor, I’m glad you like it! Its a telephoto landscape – 400mm = x8 – I tend to “see” in telephoto mode, and a long lens like this enables me to just pick small, visually attractive segments from landscapes – I was standing a long way back from this house. Adrian

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