SOMERSET LEVELS 205 – THE LANDSCAPE OF MY YOUTH (MONO)

The landscape of my youth
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The western end of the Somerset Levels – beneath the sea at Weston-super-Mare; 4 Sept 2014.

Not far north of the parts of the Somerset Levels where I’m usually to be found, these flatlands are cut by hard ridges of limestone – the Mendip Hills – that run away westwards down into the sea at Weston-super-Mare. 

This is the landscape of my youth, this is where I grew up, 60 and more years ago.

On the left is the dark limestone bulk of Worlebury Hill, behind which is hidden the seaside town of Weston.  Worlebury’s last gasp before disappearing under the muddy waters of the Bristol Channel is the little island of Birnbeck,which is attached to the mainland by a Victorian pier – apparently the only Victorian pier to incorporate an island, the others merely jutting out into the sea.

I can remember when this was a working pier, with penny in the slot machines, paddle steamers calling in to pick up daytrippers, and a lifeboat station.  But the whole pier is in a terribly derelict state now.  It has been closed to the public for years, and the lifeboat station has just closed too, due to it now being too dangerous for the lifeboatmen to get to their lifeboat.

And over on the far side of Weston Bay is the long limestone promontory of Brean Down, which had a temple on its crest in Roman times – and which has  a Victorian fort at its end, to guard the Bristol Channel and the approaches to Bristol and Cardiff.  This fort was brought back into operation amidst the fears of German invasion in World War II, but is now derelict. 

The Mendips’ very last gasps are seen in Steep Holm and Flat Holm, two small islands out in the Bristol Channel, but they are not shown in this picture.

Click onto to this image to see a larger version in a separate window – and look at where the pier, after crossing the water, meets Birnbeck Island.  There is a tall building with a dark roof there, and a small slipway running down into the sea – this is where Weston’s lifeboat used to launch, to help those in distress on the sea.

D700 with 24-120 Nikkor at 120mm; 200 ISO; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the High Key 2 preset and adding a strong cyanotype tone.
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About Adrian Lewis
Photographer working in monochrome, colour and combinations of the two - with a great liking for all sorts of images, including Minimalism, landscapes, abstracts, soft colour, people, movement, nature - I like to be adventurous in my photography, trying new ideas and working in many genres. And I'm fond of Full English Breakfasts and Duvel golden ale, though not necessarily together.

21 Responses to SOMERSET LEVELS 205 – THE LANDSCAPE OF MY YOUTH (MONO)

  1. Sallyann says:

    I’m tired after a long night in work, but as my eyelids grow heavy and my blinks become slower and longer, your picture draws me in.
    I shall dream of school trips to Weston-Super-Mare with sandcastles on the beach and donkey rides in the sun.
    Goodnight. 🙂 zzzz

    Like

    • Adrian Lewis says:

      I hope you have those W-s-M dreams, Hallysann, and that your dreamland will be there – well a small miracle needed here I know – when the tide’s in! Or is it Weston-super-Mud???!!! 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      • Sallyann says:

        Each year my class used to vote on where we would like to go for our school trip and each year we would vote for the same outing as in our first year… Bristol ice-skating in the morning, followed by an afternoon on the sand at Weston-Super-Mare. The teachers used to groan but mine wasn’t the easiest of classes to teach and it was so rare to have the attention of the whole class at one time that the teachers always agreed. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Sonali Dalal says:

    This is so beautiful and soothing to the nerves!!

    Like

  3. paula graham says:

    Gorgeous in every way… Processing compliments the whole scene beautifully…makes you wonder why anybody goes elsewhere or on expensive foreign trips to get some shots, when they are here for the taking..you ‘just’ have to see it! .

    Like

    • Adrian Lewis says:

      Yes, “just” in quotes! >>> but digital has certainly made things easier for us by booting thoughts of economy clean out the window – no longer are we thinking about how many of the 36 shots we’ve got left on our roll of film – now, if anything looks promising, we can shoot away almost without thinking. I can remember shooting three 36s of slides on the Levels and thinking it had been quite a heavy morning – maybe because everything had to be right in camera at point of capture – which was a whole different ballpark!!!

      I’ve no desire to go to exotic locations for photography, and I am simply unable to understand the mindset of those who feel that they must go to Durdle Door, or the coast along from that Northumbrian castle, or that vast waterfall in Iceland, in order to take landscape photographs.

      I’d much rather just bimbel around with a camera in southwest England and see what turns up. Geographically restricting myself in this way may in part be an age thing but, really, who cares?! North Norfolk exerts a pull, I’ve done a lot of birdwatching there but, actually, much nearer at hand, the interior of Dorset calls magically!

      I’m glad you like the picture, Paula – thank you. Adrian

      Like

  4. Meanderer says:

    Beautiful and atmospheric image, Adrian; I love the processing. I tried to imagine how bustling it must have been before the pier became unused and derelict.

    Like

    • Adrian Lewis says:

      Well, by the time I got to it, in the 50s and 60s, I don’t know that it was ever bustling, although Campbells paddle steamers used to call in the summer, taking daytrippers around the Bristol Channel, over to south Wales, and down to/past Ilfracombe too.

      The old penny in the slot machines were there – What The Butler Saw, and also gruesome mechanised versions of executions – reading that, I feel I’m from another age, and the more so because the pennies in question were OLD pennies – were they around “in your day”? (I used to ask my grandmother what it was like when she was alive – and she would gently remind me that she still was alive …)

      This pier must have been at its peak in Victorian times, when it was Weston’s only pier. But the advent of the Grand Pier (burnt down not too long back but now rebuilt) on Weston’s main beach ensured that the Old Pier, as it came to be called, was always in something of a backwater.

      Various schemes have appeared to restore it, but nothing has materialised so far. As I say, its rather out of the way in terms of Weston’s main attractions – who knows what happen?

      I’m glad you like the shot – I looked at it, and “cyanotype” just seemed to pop into my mind! Thank you. Adrian

      Liked by 1 person

      • Meanderer says:

        How interesting, Adrian. I don’t like the sound of the mechanised executions! Yes – I was around during the days of black and white (as I’d say to my children!) and remember old money very well 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Beautiful photo – haunting

    Like

  6. I’m almost lost for words – this image is so very very beautiful – one I would gladly have on my wall. The graceful shapes and shades are so suited to the way you have processed this. Brilliant 🙂 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

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