SOMERSET LEVELS PICTURE GALLERIES
I’m currently posting images from my large archive of photos from the Somerset Levels, an area not far from where I grew up that holds particular meaning and attraction for me. These photos are being posted singly, with full text.
To make viewing of these images easier for those with little time to spare, I’m also posting groups of these images with minimal titles. This is the third gallery – you can find the earlier galleries here: 1 2 .
Clicking onto each image will open a larger version in a separate window: doing this often enhances the image.
21: Looking into the distance as a day begins; Hay Moor, Aug 2019.
22: Rain storm, photographed from inside my car; the Magic Carpark,Tadham Moor; Jan 2008.
23: Meadow with wildflowers, beside North Chine Drove; Jul 2011.
24: Sun rising behind fog bank, Tealham Moor; Apr 2015.
25: Red Ruby Devon, Peacock Farm, Mar 2012. Having large animals fill the frame has always attracted me – I like to get in close to them, usually with a sizeable telephoto and, in a way, turn them into landscapes. Here the accent is very much on the animal’s pale and coarsely hairy face, with its bulging eye and odd strands of pale straw. Then my eye is taken left to its wonderfully hairy ear and then, further left again, the dark flank fades off into abstraction.
26: Storm-blown trees; Tadham Moor, early on 23 Dec 2013. Taken through my car’s windscreen, during heavy rain.
27: Looking out across a misty landscape, early in the day; Rose Farm, south of Tarnock, May 2019.
28: Entrance to a field of recently cut grass, with a dead straight rhyne making off eastwards across the relatively young landscape of Queen’s Sedge Moor; July 2019.
29: The tips of coarse marsh grasses protruding above floodwater; Tadham Moor, Nov 2012.
30: Redlake Farm, Queen’s Sedge Moor; May 2019.
SOMERSET LEVELS: SOME KEYWORDS
And finally – some 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.