I had the pleasure of attending the Welshot Photographic Academy Evening in Chester where Helen Iles was giving an extended talk a couple of months’ ago, and I wasn’t the only attendee bowled over by her images. Whilst the idea of wild camping on exposed hills is one I might have been tempted by before I got into my 60’s! I was very pleased to secure a place on her second Walking With Your Camera event with Welshot.
I was the first of our small select party to arrive at the cafe and could not resist the bacon and egg butty… subsequently when Wendy, Neil and Helen herself joined me I was trying to deal with egg running down my chin… First impressions are soooo important!
We relocated to the car park up the hill and next to a super waterfall. Once everyone had reassembled we spent some time there, experimenting with our cameras, filters and iPhones. There is a trick now in the standard photo app on an iPhone that will try to give the effect of a time exposure and I shared this with the team.
Next, the stroll up to Cwmorthin Quarry itself.
On the walk up there are several vantage points where interesting waterfalls can be seen, although we did not have time to pause. The drizzle turned to light rain and waterproofs were reluctantly pulled on. Then through a gap in the hills and we were confronted with a superb lake. Helen offered to workshop people at a lakeside position but I took the opportunity to walk up to and past some ruins to secure a view of a particular tree with the lake and a reflected tiny house.
Rejoining the group I discussed viewpoints with Helen who was our Welshot Team Leader. Around us, as the rain gave way to mist and low cloud – sadly not really low enough for our compositions. With Helen’s assistance – she hung onto my shirt in case I slipped! – I established a viewpoint on the lake, lily pads and small buildings that gave me a good portrait shot.
We decided that we would press onward and upward to where the old miners’ buildings had fallen into ruin. The path upwards had a lot of broken slate and loose rocks which made it hard work, but not as hard as the return later which proved tough on my ex-runner knees! And so to a plateau where the ruins of a small village all made from the waste slate around us. Fascinating. Also grim! The broken buildings, the rusting machinery and the invading streams made for a photographers’ playground and we had to be dragged away later by the course leader.
On the return leg we tackled the slate ‘fences’ that I had seen in other books but never seen myself – and the ruined chapel. On the way down in the failing light, I had to work fast to grab yet another waterfall picture which turns out to be my favourite from the day.
Good course leadership, excellent companions in Neil and Wendy and a brilliant place to photograph. My iPhone app said 8K walked but 55 levels or floors climbed (!) so I did deserve that beer on the way back to base! Thanks all.