It’s that time of year again when most photographers share their favourite images from the past year but disappointingly I haven’t got any images to share because for the first time for many years for one reason or another I haven’t been out with my camera. Maybe I have hit that “wall” and lost some of the enthusiasm that I had when I first started and now a little over ten years on from the start of my photo road trips around the British Isles there seem to be fewer locations that I want to visit and photograph. Whilst I don’t mind returning to previously visited locations I always have the need to seek out new journeys. I think it must be something of the Phileas Fogg in me. I did have one big trip in mind but that unfortunately did not materialise as I had not completed the location planning and if there is one thing that you must have completed it is that otherwise you could be just driving around aimlessly, but it is not forgotten and I am hopeful that it will take place in 2018 along with other locations I may decide to visit.
So not having anything to share with you for 2017 I came up with the idea of sharing my favourite images from each year over the last ten years starting in 2007 when I had trips to Cornwall, Gower, Pembrokeshire and Scotland. For this year I have decided that Three Cliffs Bay on Gower is my favourite. My first and only visit to our first Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. This must surely be one of the most beautiful bays in Britain. It has a wide mouth into which the massive form of Three Cliffs Rock juts from the eastern shore.
The Outer Hebrides or the Western Isles was my only trip in 2008 and it turned out to be one of the most memorable trips I have made. Two weeks covering from the top of the Isle of Lewis to the bottom on the Isle of Barra and I couldn’t have picked a better time with mainly beautiful weather throughout my visit. This was best represented by this view, about one mile across, between Eriksay and South Uist from where this image was captured. Who would have thought that this was forty miles off the west coast of Scotland – it looks more like the Caribbean.
In 2009 I made the most road trips in any year that is five including Dorset, Loch Lomond and The Trossachs, South Devon, Wester Ross and the Yorkshire Dales. Phew just typing the list has made me wonder how I am going to pick one image from all those locations. Well, I have after a long process of elimination. It was a very difficult decision between one from The Trossachs and one from Wester Ross and in the end, I went with the Loch Ewe sunset captured from across the road from one of my favourite campsites at Poolewe. Framed copies of which I have in both my lounge and study.
I’m selecting these favourites as I write the review so until I look through all the images I don’t know what is going to be selected next. 2010 saw two further trips to Scotland – I just can’t keep away. One to the Isle of Arran and Islay via the Kintyre Peninsula and then the Ardnamurchan Peninsula and the Isles of Mull and Iona. The final trip was down to the south coast of England to Kent and East Sussex with Dungeness one of my top locations to visit. As much as I was very tempted with more images from my Scotland trips I decided to go with one from Dungeness which is such an unusual location and landscapes the like of which I have not seen anywhere else on my trips. The view is of a long-abandoned fisherman’s hut and boat stand alongside the rails which were used to carry the catch in small railway wagons to the road some distance away.
Halfway through in 2011 with trips to Ceredigion and the Brecon Beacons, Lake District, Isle of Skye, Wester Ross, Caithness and Sutherland and last but not least Somerset, Exmoor and Dartmoor. I decided to go with the long exposure image of Lady Falls although one from the Lake District came very close. Some landscape photographers use long exposures most of the time but for me, it is fairly rare which was a leading factor in my decision coupled with having to overcome the treacherous conditions whilst climbing down to the base of the falls to get to this point of view.
Essex along with a return visit to Norfolk and Suffolk were completed in 2012 as well as a short trip to the Lake District, North Cornwall and the North York Moors and Coast. You will be surprised to see that I didn’t make any trips to Scotland so I was hoping this would make my decision so much easier but having taken a look that was certainly not the case. One from every area could have been easily chosen but I have eventually gone with the one of Ana Cross on the North York Moors. The timing of my visit was just perfect. Driving in heavy rain across Spaunton Moor towards the cross which is located a few hundred yards off the road I could see the light and colours changing for the better right in front of me and then signs of a rainbow. Reaching the parking spot I jumped out of the camper and literally ran to the cross and quickly set up just as everything came to together apart from having to politely ask a gentleman and his dog if he would kindly move out of my view – which he did thankfully just in time.
Only a single trip in 2013 so selection should be somewhat easier. The Isle of Wight and it’s Area of Outstanding Beauty – the island’s finest landscapes was where I was heading which I had not visited for almost 50 years and in addition, the AONB were celebrating their 50th Anniversary. On the way back I spent a few days in the New Forest which is an area I had not visited before. Well, it was more difficult then I thought with one or two contenders from the New Forest and maybe another on the Isle of Wight but I have selected Compton Bay just because of the pure scale of the view. The bay is located on the southwest section of the island. The northern edge of the bay is defined by a distinctive white chalk cliff called Freshwater Cliff, named after Freshwater Bay which you can see in the background.
I’m back in Scotland in 2014 – Surprise, Surprise !!! with trips to Dumfries and Galloway and the Moray Coast and the Cairngorms together with a visit to North Devon. Now this will be a difficult one because I can already visualise some of the images I have to deliberate over. There are so many I really like. Eventually, I was drawn to this image of Loch Gamhna at the southern end of Loch an Eilein. I just couldn’t leave out that amazing tree and its roots on the left which together with the other trees provided some perfect framing of the loch and the lower slopes of the Cairngorm mountains in the background.
Although I had some one-day trips in 2015 my main road trip was the Pembrokeshire Coast via Ceredigion and eventually onto Carmarthenshire and the Glamorgan Heritage Coast the latter for my first visit. Only one trip to choose from but three distinct landscapes including the UK’s only coastal #NationalPark in Pembrokeshire. The one thing you can be certain of is that the image will feature a Welsh landscape. As much as I was drawn to selecting one from the amazing seascapes of Pembrokeshire including one that was used on the front cover of the 2016 Pembrokeshire Visitor Guide I have gone with one from Carmarthenshire of Dylan’s Boathouse at Laugharne on the Taff Estuary. I am particularly drawn to the variety of colours on the gently sloping hills in the background and those wonderfully shaped clouds although the main focus is the famous Boathouse where Dylan Thomas gained some inspiration for his writing for the last four years of his life.
My last trip in the early Autumn of 2016 was driving the North Coast 500 around the whole north coast of Scotland including my long awaited visit to Cape Wrath but before then I have to consider my other trip of the year with my first photographic visit to the Northumberland National Park followed by Sir Walter Scott’s Scottish Borders. Another tough decision but I have chosen this image captured from the top of one of Scotland’s most famous roads with this stunning viewpoint. The hairpin bends and breathtaking heights of the Bealach Na Ba; make it an unforgettable road to drive, and when you get to the top – at a height of 2,053 ft – you’re rewarded with this jaw-dropping view of the Cuillin Ridge on the Isle of Skye. Apart from the amazing view, I chose this because it is so different to my normal colourful style as most of the image is made up of varying shades of grey and black with just a touch of pastel colour in the background over Skye.
Well, that’s me exhausted as I feel as if I have completed the whole journey all over again although it is quietly satisfying reliving what I have seen over those ten years. I hope you agree with some of my choices but please feel free to pass comments below if you there are others that you feel are more deserving images that should be included. Just follow the highlighted links to see more images and details of the various trips. I would also certainly be very interested to learn which of the ten chosen is your favourite.
I am looking forward to getting back into the swing of things in 2018 so thank you to everyone who has taken time to continue to support me this year. I really appreciate it. Wonder what next year will bring?