Looking south along the single track road known as Pillmoor Drove, on the Somerset Levels, early on a spring morning. This area is right on the local edge of the Levels. Higher ground rises up towards Coxley and Wells to the right of the road, and a spur from this higher ground crosses the road, to form Harter’s Hill, which can be seen – to the left of the tree – rising above the dead flat ground of Pill Moor, which is a part of the Levels.
Harter’s Hill, and the ground rising up to the right, stood up as islands when, not very long ago, the flats of the Levels were covered in lakes and marshes.
Click onto the image to open a larger version in a separate window – definitely recommended.
Technique: X-T2 with 10-24 Fujinon lens at 15mm (equiv); Lightroom, using the Velvia/Vivid film simulation; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Strong Infrared Low Contrast preset and adding a medium coffee tone; Pill Moor, on the Somerset Levels south of Wells; 26 Apr 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.