ARCHIVE: LEVELS 34 – MURKY DAWN, TEALHAM MOOR (MONO)

.
.

.

Dawn, mist and murk at the western end of Totney Drove, on Tealham Moor; 27 Nov 2014.

This Thursday past the Somerset Levels threw something new at me.  I’d set off from Bristol well before dawn and, as I crossed the Chew Valley and the Mendip Hills, had soon started encountering fog.  This dense murk thickened as I approached the Levels but that was to be expected and all was still fine – I was on familiar back roads and, even if I had to proceed slowly, I still knew where I was.  And then the road ahead was blocked by roadworks – the local council frantically making good drainage systems before what we hope will not be a winter as bad as the last one.

And so to backtracking, following diversion signs – and then I passed a left turn that I knew I should have taken – and promptly became totally lost and disorientated in darkness and dense fog.  This was a distinctly unsettling experience.  After all, I’ve been reading maps for most of my life and have a good sense of direction.  I drove on, I suppose for 30 minutes, recognising none of my surroundings at all.  At one stage, a huge tractor, covered in rotating lights, drove by, irresistibly reminding me of the alien spacecraft in Close Encounters of the Third Kind – what am I on???

Anyway, it was just after this that I was passing the entrance to a small lane – when there was a sudden hint of familiarity – I swerved into it, drove down a road I thought (hoped!) I knew – and was immensely relieved to emerge out onto the western edges of Tealham Moor.

Driving on south down Kid Gate Drove, I got to the western end of Totney Drove and, immensely relieved, left the car’s sidelights on and got out.  Walking along Totney Drove, I looked back westwards, and here is that view – mist and murk on the western edges of Tealham Moor, at dawn.  And was it murky?  Yes it was – I was shooting at 12,800 ISO with image stabilisation activated and the lens wide open.

Click onto the image to open a larger version in a separate window – recommended.

Technique: D700 with 70-300 Nikkor lens at 70mm; 12,800 ISO; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Low Key 2 preset.

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.

.
.
.

ARCHIVE: LEVELS 32 – SUN RISING OVER GLASTONBURY TOR

. .

.

Sunrise over Glastonbury Tor, seen from Tealham Moor, on the Somerset Levels; 22 Nov 2013.

I’ve lightened the centre section to bring interest to the mid-ground with the two cows – but I’m sure they should have shadows … oh dear, digital … not always quite up to it are you?  Or maybe I’m not quite up to it – its probably me ….

And of course I’m pointing my magnificent if distinctly weighty telezoom straight into the sun’s glare, and so to a second, orange sun low down in the frame, and also some rather fiery glows between that sun and the real one.  I could have gone at it with software to try and make good these optical artefacts but, first, I can’t be bothered, and second, I think they add to the atmosphere and feeling of the shot – I mean, I’m pointing a x6 telephoto directly into Our Star’s incandescent face, so what do I expect, perfect and pristine optical rendition?

I like the 80-400 (but – Jan 2020 – have sold it now).  Large and unwieldy it may be and its not one of Nikon’s very quick AF-S lenses, but it is image stabilised and I can hand hold it, and it gives such reach and flexibility.

Click onto the image to open a larger version in a separate window – recommended.

Technique: D800 with 80-400 Nikkor lens at 300mm; 800 ISO.

SOMERSET LEVELS: SOME KEYWORDS

And finally – some keywordsthat 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.

. . .

ARCHIVE: LEVELS 24 – RISING SUN WITH FOG, TEALHAM MOOR (MONO)

.
.

.

Rising sun behind fog, Tealham Moor; 8 Apr 2015.

The view eastwards from the top of the low bridge over the North Drain (the waterway on the right), on a cool and still, April morning.

This archive presents some of the pictures that I’ve taken on the Somerset Levels over many years.  More context can be found in the first post in this archive – 1 – and also in my first Somerset Levels post, from 2011 – here .

Click onto the image to open a larger version in a separate window – recommended.

Technique: D700 with 70-300 Nikkor lens at 70mm; 200 ISO with 1 stop underexposure; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Antique Portrait preset and adding a cool tone.

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.

.
.
.

SOMERSET LEVELS PICTURE GALLERY 2: POSTS 11-20

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 second gallery – you can find the first gallery here: 1 .

Clicking onto each image will open a larger version in a separate window: doing this often enhances the image.

.


11: Looking eastwards into the mists along Totney Drove, a single track, tarmac road crossing Tadham Moor; 19 Oct 2018.
.


12: Blackbird – a territorial male, clearly resenting my presence – down an English country lane, early on a morning in spring; 21 Mar 2012.
.

13: Skylark in song high above Tealham Moor, bathing the landscape in beautiful sounds: 31 Mar 2014.
.

14: Misty morning, Tadham Moor; 10 Apr 2014.
.

15: Meadow Pipit singing, Tealham Moor; 5 July 2019.
.

16: Winter floods, Tadham Moor; 20 Jan 2008.
.

17: Squall coming, time to take shelter, Tadham Moor; 29 Apr 2016.
.

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

19: Looking past grasses, towards a grove of trees; Common Moor; 19 July 2019.
.

20: Dark, brooding giant beside Chasey’s Drove, Common Moor; 10 Aug 2003.
.

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.

.

.

.

SOMERSET LEVELS PICTURE GALLERY 1: POSTS 1 – 10

 

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 – and this is the first.

Clicking onto each image will open a larger version in a separate window: doing this often enhances the image.

.


1: Early morning along the North Drain, seen from the Jack’s Drove bridge on Tealham Moor; 17 Sept 2010.

.


2: The view westwards over Tealham Moor, at sunrise; 19 Oct 2018.

.


3: Cow, Tadham Moor; 1 Nov 2013.

.


4: Tripps Drove, a single track road on Godney Moor; 27 Nov 2014.

.


5: The rising sun lighting a willow along Hurn Drove, Ash Moor; 28 Oct 2014.

.


6: Low angle sunlight and mist on Tadham Moor; 10 Apr 2014.

.


7: Roadside fence, Walton Hill, on the top of the Polden Hills; 13 Jan 2016.

.


8: Inquisitive as ever, Tealham Moor; 29 Aug 2013.

.


9: Standing on Long Moor Drove, looking at anything and everything, when a motorbike shot past me. Like many of the little roads (droves) around here, this one has minimal foundations and, because of the wet, unstable clays underlying it, its often prone to adopting convolutions and textures quite of its own choosing; 3 May 2019.

.


10: Napkins (aka serviettes) and wine glasses on our table in the Cottage Cafe, Burnham-On-Sea, Somerset; 9 Oct 2010.

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.

.
.
.

ARCHIVE: LEVELS 15 – MEADOW PIPIT SINGING


.

Feeling tired after an early morning start, I’d just slumped down into the car’s driving seat, thinking about the drive back to Bristol, when this little pipit landed on a gate post right in front of me and burst into song.  Pictures through the car’s dirty windscreen clearly weren’t going to cut the mustard and so, leaning carefully sideways – using the car as a hide – I managed to poke the business end of the telezoom through the gap between the car’s open door and its bodywork.  It was the lens I’m married to (the new version of it) the 70-300 Nikkor zoom and, putting the camera into APS-C mode gave me 450mm = x9 magnification.  I started carefully squeezing the shutter button, taking care not to make any sudden movements.

The bird is a Meadow Pipit, Anthus pratensis if you want to know, a small creature that lives and breeds on open grasslands, like the rough pasture here on Tealham Moor.  It gives its full song when in flight over its territory, but also uses perches like this to deliver partial versions.  Sitting or lying back in a soft, warm, summer field, listening to Meadow Pipits singing overhead – where there may be Skylarks singing too – is certainly not the least of Life’s simple and totally freely given pleasures.

This archive presents some of the pictures that I’ve taken on the Somerset Levels over many years.  More context can be found in the first post in this archive – 1 – and also in my first Somerset Levels post, from 2011 – here .  Further posts in this archive are here: 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 .  All of these links will open in separate windows. 

Click onto the image to open a larger version in a separate window – recommended.

Technique: Z 6 with 70-300 Nikkor lens used in DX (= APS-C) format to give 450mm; 800 ISO; Lightroom; beside the Jack’s Drove bridge over the North Drain, Tealham Moor, on the Somerset Levels; 5 July 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.

.
.
.

ARCHIVE: LEVELS 13 – LARK (MONO + COLOUR)

 

 


.

Skylark in song high above Tealham Moor, on the Somerset Levels south of Wedmore; 31 Mar 2014.

I love being out on Tealham Moor when these larks are singing.  Their music is far carrying and all embracing, somehow it is all around.  And, bird lover and enthusiast that I have been for these nearly 50 years, I never fail to be impressed by all of that sound emanating from such a tiny speck that rides the winds in another world, high above mine.  Often, with the song pouring over me in waves, my experienced eyes still fail to locate the singer.

This picture is a small part of a larger image.  In case you’re not sure what you’re looking at, the bird is hanging in the air, facing away from us.  Its wings are the pointed shapes on either side, and the prominent, slightly bulbous shape pointing towards upper left is the spread tail.

This archive presents some of the pictures that I’ve taken on the Somerset Levels over many years.  More context can be found in the first post in this archive – 1 – and also in my first Somerset Levels post, from 2011 – here .  Further posts in this archive are here: 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 .  All of these links will open in separate windows. 

Click onto the image to open a larger version in a separate window.

Technique: D800 with 70-300 Nikkor lens at 300mm; 1600 ISO; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Low Key 2 preset, with a little restoration of original colour.

UPDATE: I like this image very much.  Although it would be hard to show less of its subject, it is a portrait, a portrait of a small living creature high up in – and eminently at home in – the wild vastnesses of its element, the sky.  Unless we are lucky enough to be able to pick out this well camouflaged little bird on the ground, this is how we see it – a small dot, often far smaller than this, high up in the heavens.  Thinking of these little creatures high up there in the air belting out their songs really gets to me, I have to say.  This is both an integral part of the Somerset Levels, which is where this photograph was taken, and a picture of the Natural World – an entity which is never, ever boring – just getting on with it, doing its thing.

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.

.

.

.

.
.
.

ARCHIVE: LEVELS 8 – INQUISITIVE AS EVER (MONO)

 

 


.

Inquisitive as ever, out on Tealham Moor, on the Somerset Levels; 29 Aug 2013.

My ongoing warm feelings for cows.  The main subject is making a dive for my shiny lens – I fired and jumped back just before his wet muzzle engulfed it.  The expression of the next animal right is interesting – distinctly doubtful and censorious.  Maybe he read my thoughts about gravy and roast potatoes …

This archive presents some of the pictures that I’ve taken on the Somerset Levels over many years.  More context can be found in the first post in this archive – 1 – and also in my first Somerset Levels post, from 2011 – here .  Further posts in this archive are here: 2 3 4 5 6 7 .  All of these links will open in separate windows. 

Click onto the image to open a larger version in a separate window – certainly recommended.

Technique: D700 with 12-24 Sigma lens at 18mm; 800 ISO; Silver Efex Pro 2’s Fine Art Process preset.

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.

.
.
.

ARCHIVE: LEVELS 2 – LOOKING WEST OVER TEALHAM MOOR, AT SUNRISE

 

 

.

Having taken so many pictures of the Somerset Levels, thousands probably over the years, finding further photographic inspiration there is often not easy – and especially so when the light conditions are unexciting.  But on Friday, starting from home early, I got down there at the start of the day and instantly found myself in a visually mobile world of shifting mist and fog banks, with the sun rising behind them.

This is actually a shot from towards the end of the spectacle, looking westwards over Tealham Moor.  The sun was rising from behind thick banks of cloud along the eastern horizon, which had the effect of reducing the full force of its brilliance.  Here, looking westwards, the upper band of cloud is illuminated by the first of the sun’s rays as it emerged from the thick cloudbanks, while the thin ribbon of cloud below, and the misty surface of the moor, had yet to be fully illuminated.

This archive presents some of the pictures that I’ve taken on the Somerset Levels over many years.  More context can be found in the first post in this archive – 1 – and also in my first Somerset Levels post, from 2011 – hereBoth of these links will open in separate windows.

Click onto the “early morning” tag (below) to see more images from the early hours of the day. 

Click onto the image to open a larger version in a separate window – recommended.

Technique: X-T2 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 83mm (equiv); 400 ISO; Lightroom, using the Velvia/Vivid film simulation; Tealham Moor, on the Somerset Levels; 19 Oct 2018.

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.

.

.

.

ARCHIVE: LEVELS 1 – THE VIEW EAST FROM THE JACK’S DROVE BRIDGE (MONO)

 

 

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. 

.

.

.

<span>%d</span> bloggers like this: