The view eastwards along the North Drain from the Jack’s Drove bridge on Tealham Moor; 17 Sept 2010.  Early morning mists above the rhyne (see below) starting to be dissolved by the rising sun, just after 7am.   Click onto the image to open a larger version in a separate window – recommended.

The Somerset Levels are an area of wet flatlands mainly to the south of the Mendip Hills, in the county of Somerset.  I grew up in a seaside town on their northern reaches, I cycled around them in my youth, I have very frequently visited them since 1994, and my ashes will be scattered in a wild but really nondescript and unremarkable spot out in their rough and wet fastnesses when the time comes.  Although the Levels are not my real “home” but they are near enough to that “home” and, after many years away, often very far away, it feels very good to be back “home” now.

The Levels hold truly vast interest for me in terms of their geology, archaeology, birds and other wildlife, and their landscape and scenery.  Also there is the point with the Levels that what you see is what you get, quite rough, very flat and wet pastureland, simple, working agricultural countryside.  Some neatness and gentrification is inevitably creeping in, but I tend to frequent the rougher and more real areas, like the Tealham and Tadham Moors, west of Glastonbury and southwest of Wells.

So, presenting this archive series is a labour of love for me, made all the more meaningful by the fact that, in these pandemic times, I may not get to complete it – although I am in an age group that ought to be getting their first vaccination quite soon.  The Somerset Levels category on this blog has reached 467 posts, but I have not been down to the Levels (about an hour’s drive away) since before the first pandemic lockdown started in March last year; I don’t seem to have quite the energy that I once did, although whether this is due to increasing age or the trying nature of the current times I don’t know.  Many of the images will be landscapes but, having forgotten just what is available to post, it will be enjoyable ferreting  around to see what is there although, as of now, I haven’t the faintest idea where to start!

To get more info on the Levels I suggest you look at my first Somerset Levels post – which you can find here – which amongst other things contains a truly appalling sketch map of the area.  This post will open in a separate window … as will the appalling map … should you wish to be even more appalled …

And finally – SOME LEVELS KEYWORDS that will often be mentioned in this archive series:

Droves:  to avoid crossing other peoples’ land when accessing their own, the farmers constructed a series of tracks, known as droves, between the fields. Some of these droves are now metalled roads and many persist as open tracks – all of which allow wonderfully open access to this countryside.

Rhynes: the fields are bounded by water-filled ditches – which both drain the ground and act as stock barriers. Hence strange landscapes – where fields appear quite unbounded, except for a gate with a short length of fencing on either side of it, where a bridge crosses the water-filled boundary ditch to provide access the field.  These small wet ditches communicate with larger rhynes (“reen” as in Doreen), which in turn flow into larger drains, e.g. the North and South Drains in the Brue Valley. All of these waterways are manmade and, by intricate series of pumping stations and flood gates, all of them have their water levels controlled by local farmers, internal drainage boards or the Environment Agency.

Pollarded Willows: the banks of the rhynes were often planted with Willow trees, both to help strengthen the banks and also to show the courses of roads and tracks during floods. These Willows are often pollarded, i.e. their upper branches are cut off, which results in distinctively broad and dense heads to the trees. Pollarding keeps trees to a required height, while ensuring a steady supply of wood – more important in the past than now – for fires, thatching spars, fencing and so on.

I hope you will enjoy this archive.  Click onto the “early morning” tag (below) to see more images from the early hours of the day. 




About Adrian Lewis
Photographer - using mono, colour and combinations of the two - many types of subject, including Minimalism, landscapes, abstracts, soft colour, people, movement, nature - I like to be adventurous, trying new ideas, working in multiple genres. And I've a weakness for Full English Breakfasts and Duvel golden ale, though not necessarily together.


  1. bluebrightly says:

    The image is an inspiration – very beautiful, with all the light. And the text is a gift, Adrian. I’m glad you’re writing a lot these days. you know, as far as energy and the pandemic goes, my two cents is that the times are getting us down. Sure, we’re a year older but this has been a horrendous drag and it just brings one down so much. Joe and I just got the vaccine and I’m already feeling better, more hopeful, less “old.” I hope Bristol gets its act together soon and you and yours get the vaccine pronto. You should have many, many more delightful mornings on the Levels.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Adrian Lewis says:

      Thank you, my friend – and I’m very glad to hear that you two have had the jab. I had the Pfizer vaccine on Saturday, and we’re hoping that Eileen’s will be soon. In Bristol we are in a bad place, as a mutant strain has been found here and house to house testing may start. 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

      • bluebrightly says:

        We’re hearing about the variants, as they’re calling them here, and I’m sure there will be more mutations in the future. We’re on track at least with making vaccines and eventually we (as a world!) should get better at getting vaccines into people. I hope this virus will settle down to be more like the flu…and then I suppose there will be other diseases jumping around from vector to vector, and causing havoc. I’d be nuts if I didn’t have the outdoors to roam around in and photography to keep me happy, with all the potentially bad news.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Helen Cherry says:

    I shall have to visit the Somerset levels in my campervan when we are allowed out again ! is it flooded at the moment?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Meanderer says:

    Great stuff (as someone I know would say 😉 ). I know what you mean about energy levels; my oomph upped and left some time ago. Maybe we’ll be supercharged with the vaccine 🙂 🙂


  4. krikitarts says:

    Ah, the rewards granted to the early riser, well-earned. Hopefully there was a full English breakfast to follow?


  5. Serene. As always.


  6. a dreamlike look in this photo, I like it.


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