June 21st : Trip up North Part 2: Heritage stuff…

I’m no expert but if there’s a single central theme that underpins the UK’s tourism business it must be heritage right? Sure as hell, it ain’t the weather! If you spot two Americans tourists together then chances are that you’re on the heritage trail heading towards the next ‘must see’ destination…

I’m proud to say that I’m a (family) member of the National Trust and that I think they do a cracking job on a whole bunch of different levels. Our recent trip up north was something of a dot-to-dot NT fest. Starting with Fountains Abbey then Lindisfarne on the way up-country and then Cragside on the way back down south. Edinburgh, including the Scottish Parliament, was our Scottish heritage tick – and a very interesting one at that.

Fountains Abbey hits the top of the bill as a World Heritage Site. Alongside Studley Lake and St Mary’s Church, Fountains is one heck of a locale. Fountains Abbey dates from the twelfth century and is Britain’s largest monastic ruin. Henry VIII’s Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1539 dealt a bitter blow to Fountains after which the fabric of the abbey suffered. Amazingly the same fate didn’t befall The Cellarium whose vaulted roof is stunning. Equally stunning, though much more decorative, is the nearby St Mary’s Church which, dating from 1870, is a mere spring chicken by comparison. Studley Lake and Studley Royal Water Garden are very pleasant too, as is the Seven Bridges (and seven fords) Trail which leads off into the wild yonder beyond Studley Lake. We zipped around the place on our mtb’s (walking only though through the Royal Water Gardens) in 3-4 hours. In truth, we needed much longer though to do it justice.

Next up on our tour was Lindisfarne Castle out on the far Northumberland coast. My association with Northumberland dates back to the late Seventies when I first climbed in The County and to be honest, I love the place. A former Tudor fort, Lindisfarne was an important cog in the defence of the realm back in the day. Having been converted back to a private dwelling at the start of the last century, Lindisfarne is now one of the NT’s iconic buildings and a very powerful magnet for photogs. The mystic of Lindisfarne is boosted further by the tidal causeway that separates it from the mainland. It’s the second time I’ve cycled over to Lindisfarne and I’ll have to go back again for sure – maybe on foot. Hopefully, next time the weather will be a better too. One day, I might even make it along at dawn or dusk and then I could really dig-in photographically.

Northumberland’s other gemstone is Cragside. I’ve never made it to Cragside before – despite numerous climbing trips to the area – and I have to say I was blown away by Lord Armstrong’s former pad. The number of ‘labour-saving, creature comforts’ created by this Victorian inventor which he lovingly designed and built into the stunning Cragside is amazing; the first house to be lit by hydro-electricity, a lift, a water-driven spit-roaster, a stream-room… the list is (almost) endless. The fireplace deep within the house is just incredible too. Outside Cragside continues to stun visitors with gardens and its Euro-funded refurbished iron bridge. An afternoon disappeared in no time at all – especially when I slipped my leash and managed to get some shots of the house down from the stream using tripod and split density filters. Felt a bit like a proper photog rather than just a grab-man…

Whilst most of the images that follow were snapped on the hoof, some have been part processed by an in-camera function, perspective control, which is a neat addition to the camera. Granted, its not the same as shooting with a tilt and shift lens – they’re on the wants list – but it certainly helps and takes out radically diverging verts – thanks Nikon. Dropped the shot of the vaulted roof at Fountains in B&W too, colour was just a distraction… 

 

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This entry was posted in Heritage, Photography.