I’m on a roll at the moment, so here’s a quick post about the Mach Loop. It’s an area here in North Wales where low flying military aircraft can be photographed as they fly through the valleys. There’s no timetable of when this will happen, but generally you can say Monday to Friday, usually during daylight hours, although Friday is usually POETS day so there may be limited traffic then.
To get there I have to leave the house at six and after an hour and a half drive it’s time to climb up the side of a hill to the vantage point which puts you level or even above the aircraft as they fly through the valley. In reality there are several vantage points but my favourites are CAD East and CAD West. It’s very rare that you wont find other photographers up there waiting for the same thing as you and often that wait can be long. Sometimes it’s three hours of boredom followed by ten seconds of sheer panic as you spot the incoming aircraft, get you camera up, focus and fire the shutter, hoping that you’ve got a least one in sharp enough focus.
But of course, we’re photographers with a common interest so it’s not really hours of boredom, we chat, talk about gear, which aircraft we seen, keep in contact with the other photographers who are on the other vantage points, have a look at flightradar 360 to see what military aircraft are flying and where they are, and most importantly listen to the radio scanners for those magic words “low level LFA7”. And the tents? Not normally for sleeping, more to keep your kit dry, the wind off, it can be cold at those heights, and generally act as your own little shelter against the elements.
So when your up that hill you have to carry, camera, lenses spare batteries, food, water, hot drink, and the tent. The only good thing is the load is lighter on the way down. Is it worth it? To me yes. If I get one good photograph on a day, I’m a happy guy. If I don’t there’s always the banter, and amazing scenery to enjoy. On a clear day you can see so far.
On the CAD east side you get to see the underside of the aircraft as well as head on photographs as they make their approach. It just gives you that little bit of extra time to pick them up and focus.
CAD West, you’ll get cockpit photographs but the difficulty is that you are photographing into the sun which can make it difficult.
At the end of the day I’ve been on the hillside ten and a half hours, it’s six o’clock and it’s time to go home. Faced with another hour and a half drive home I’m eager to get off the hill, and I’m not alone. Military activity has slackened off. The scanners have been quiet for a good hour the radar picture shows nothing up flying in the vicinity so we all make the decision to head home.
The tents get packed up, camera gear is stowed, we take all of our litter and head home.
Sure I’m Scots but it’s not me I’m talking about, it’s the train.
Probably one of the UK’s most recognised locomotives, the Flying Scotsman has returned to service hauling tours around Britain after an extensive refurbishment, and I was lucky to catch it today as it passed through North Wales.
Built in 1923 for the London and North Eastern Railway (LNER) at Doncaster Works to a design of Sir Nigel Gresley, the Flying Scotsman was employed as an express train on the East Coast Main Line running from London to Edinburgh, a distance of 392 miles. During it’s time in service, before it was retired in 1963, the Flying Scotsman a world record; it was the first steam train to reach 100mph. Later in the 1980’s it would be the first steam train to clock up the longest ever non-stop run of 422 miles during a tour of Australia.
Being mainly a landscape photographer I really applaud the choice for this weeks challenge. And to celebrate I went out and photographed some fresh landscapes from one of my favourite areas in the Snowdonia National Park: the Ogwen Valley and Cwm Idwal. Easy to get to, a well constructed path leads up from the car park at the side of a main road to the shore of the Idwal lake. Along the way you get some spectacular views of the surrounding mountains. Like the photograph below showing Tryfan which forms part of the Glyderau group. Although not the highest mountain in Wales by any means, it is one of the most famous and recognisable peaks in Britain, but at 917.5 m (3,010 ft) above sea level it is only the fifteenth highest mountain in Wales.
Now Pen yr Ole Wen, on the opposite side of the Ogwen Valley to Tryfan, is the seventh highest mountain in Snowdonia and Wales and forms part of the Carneddau range.
Down in the Ogwen Valley lies Llyn Ogwen which lies at a height of about 310 metres above sea level. Llyn Ogwen is a very shallow lake, with a maximum depth of only a little over 3 metres. In the photograph below yu can see Llyn Ogwen, Tryfan to your right, Pen yr Ole Wen to your left and the path coming up from the car park. It’s a popular walk and probably one of the easiest in Snowdonia. Even on a weekday you can see quite a few people are heading up to Cwm Idwal which is behind me.
Cwm Idwal is a valley in the Glyderau range of mountains in northern Snowdonia, within the valley lies a small lake called Llyn Idwal. That lake drains down to the Afon Ogwen by a small river which tumbles over rocks all the way to the base of the Ogwen Valley
Other small tributaries come down from the mountains but eventually they all end up at the Afon Ogwen.
All the while I was up at Cwm Idwal, the light kept changing as did the weather. A little bit of sleet, some hail, sunny patches, but hey, this is Snowdonia and we are in the mountains. But look at the light. Some great patches of light and shade, constantly changing, what more could I ask for.
That wraps it up for this week and as usual here’s what other bloggers are saying about this weeks challenge.
The Photographer Smiled… Polder View
Wednesday Lensday- Sunshine and Solitude – Aloada Bobbins
Claire Rosslyn Wilson Fishing Rods
Dr D in Oz Outback Trio
Elizabatz Gallery Weekly Photo Challenge- Irish Landscapes in Psykopaint
Maria Jansson Photography Amazing Places in Northern California- McArthur-Burney Falls Memorial
Weekly Photo Challenge- Landscape – Sky Blue Pink Design
Rebecca Gillum Photography I Love Rainstorms
Beyond the Brush Photography Dalveen Pass
Weekly Photo Challenge- Landscape – Connie’s World
Regular readers will know that I’m very fond of using HDR with my photographs and I’m always happy to be experimenting. Trying new looks or styles.
This week I have been testing a new software with some very good results. Whilst I say “new” it’s been around some time but just not in the mainstream of HDR software.
Any way as usual I’m digressing. So where is my Happy Place? It’s got to be the Snowdonia National Park and if I have to be specific I’d say the Ogwen Valley and Nant Ffrancon.
In the panorama above you can see the Ogwen Valley with Llyn Ogwen to your right and Nant Ffrancon, also a valley, to the left. I’m standing very close to Cwm Idwal at this point. It’s right behind me.
Llyn Ogwen is surrounded by mountains but luckily the A5 road runs right through the valley giving easy access to the lake and the mountains. Visit here during the summer, especially at weekends and there will be lots of cars parked in the various parking areas set aside for walkers and climbers.
At the far end of Llyn Ogwen lies the drop down to Nant Ffrancon, which is almost at right angles to this photograph. Go left at the far end and you will be at Cwm Idwal.
In this photograph we are looking the other way. Llyn Ogwen and the Ogwen Valley lie up there nestled between the mountains to the left of this photograph. Cwm Idwal is to the right of the photograph, also hidden behind the mountains.
Can you see why I have this area as my Happy Place?
Of course visit in the winter and you will see things differently. This is the same road that you can see in the photograph above. Fortunately it’s not the main road. That’s the black line you can see to the left of the photograph about 2/3 rds of the way up. Where it meets the black clump of trees, that’s where the road bends to the Ogwen Valley.
Incidentally that’s where I got stuck on the ice. Even with 4 wheel drive I was just slipping and getting closer to the edge. Thankfully my fellow photographers where able to guide me back to safety. A hairy moment at the time.
Snow brings the wild ponies down from the higher slopes almost to the edge of the road. Although they live wild, I’ve always found them pretty friendly. Too friendly sometimes.
Water tumbles over rocks, I love to hear that sound, during the summer it can be just a trickle, but once the rains come or when the snow melts, it’s a different story.
Then there’s that bridge, I’m never quite sure if it lies in the Ogwen Valley or not as it’s at the start of the path to Cwm Idwal. One thing I’m pretty certain of. It must be the most photographed bridge and waterfall in Snowdonia. I’ve seen coach loads of tourists dropped off just to see this bridge……and they think they have seen the real Snowdonia
So there you have it. My Happy Place and I hope you have enjoyed it with me?
Here’s what others bloggers are saying about their Happy Place
According to Wikipedia
“Wildlife traditionally refers to non-domesticated animal species, but has come to include all plants, fungi, and other organisms that grow or live wild in an area without being introduced by humans”
With that in mind I give you this lovely little plant I found growing on a slate wall in Cwmorthin.
Cwmorthin is a remote valley in North Wales. No one lives there now and it is mainly used by walkers (not the ones you see in The Walking Dead); but people who like to get out and walk in the hills. Moss and lichens seem particularly attracted to the remains of the slate walls of the old abandoned building.
At this time of the year the bees are buzzy, buzzy, buzzy. Working so hard to get pollen from the flowers of the lavender we have growing in the garden. It’s a natural bee attractor and on a hot sunny day the smell of lavender is really strong. We have several varieties growing in the garden.
That’s it! As always these 52 posts are quite short. I hope you enjoyed the photographs.