Six of us from Cambridge Camera Club arrived in Northumberland on a very grey June day. Our aim was to visit as many of the local landmarks as we could and share our photographs each evening. I was hoping to learn and to try long exposures and photo stacking for the first time. I was not disappointed as my fellow photographers were keen to share their skills and knowledge. Thank you Barry for your patient explanations about Lightroom and photo stacking. Thank you Shelagh for your support with long exposures and for making me take the time required to set up! Thank you to Ann for being so knowledgeable about everything: wild flowers, birds, insects, sunsets, lenses and settings. Thank you to Sarah and Sue for culinary guidance and for being so positive about my efforts!
Usually my blogs follow day to day visits but this time I will group the photographs in a different, more thematic way. There will be four blogs in total Castles, Beaches, Seals and Birds and finally Flowers. Northumberland is a truly beautiful place and I will definitely visit again. It’s strange how sometimes a place can evoke the memory of a verse and as I gazed across at Lindisfarne castle I thought of the following words by the bard.
This royal throne of kings, this scepter’d isle,
This earth of majesty, this seat of Mars,
This other Eden, demi paradise,
This fortress built by Nature for herself
Against infection and the hand of war,
This happy breed of men, this little world
This precious stone set in the silver sea,
Which serves it in the office of a wall,
Or as a moat defensive to a house,
Against the envy of less happier lands,
This blessed plot, this realm, this England
Richard 11 Act 2 Shakespeare
Lindisfarne Castle on ‘The Holy Island’ is separated from the mainland by a causeway, very much like Mersea Island in Essex, but there any resemblance ends. Lindisfarne dominates the horizon, high above the sea, bobbing boats and sheep grazing. I felt like I was walking straight into a fairy tale. Why had I never visited this beautiful place before? I paused and just looked at the scene wondering how I could ever capture its beauty and mystical qualities in my lens. It was a grey day with a little far off mist as I set up my camera. Like a child with a jar of sweets, I decided as I always did, to save the best for last. I began taking shots of the areas around the castle whilst I thought about how I could capture it in a different way to everyone else. I soon lost my fellow photographers as I became absorbed in the beauty and the photography. It is not easy to take photographs in grey weather and a limited timeframe so I looked for the quirky as well as the serenity. I came across a piper, friendly sheep, old boats, the Priory ruins and some rather strange stacked stones. I could have spent two days exploring.
The next castle we visited is possibly the most iconic. Bamburgh Castle stands majestically on a hill above Bamburgh beach. Unfortunately the weather had not improved much although the sun did appear once or twice. Much larger than Lindisfarne Castle, Bamburgh invades the sky and eye line from almost every direction. It is the one building that gives visitors to Northumberland, an idea of where they are at almost any given point. It seemed that everywhere we turned we could see this imposing, yet beautiful building. I was amused to find one visitor though, who appeared unimpressed with the castle as he read his book with his back to the view. Once again I wanted to find a different picture to those I had seen on postcards and the internet. I wandered around taking the usual shots from the beach until just as I was leaving I saw a fabulous field of wild campion. These wild flowers seem to soften the hardness of the brick work and lift the imposing greyness giving a wonderful purple pink hue.
Although we didn’t visit Dunstanburgh castle up close, I did manage to capture it in the distance as I took photographs of a sunset from Newton Point. It is a ruin, whose empty shell stands out against the sky providing an interesting focal point within a simple sunset shot. Shelagh and I also took pictures there one day when the others decided to stay on the beach. Having walked about two miles across a golf course and clambered over rocks, we couldn’t face the long and difficult climb to the summit of the hill it stands on.
I didn’t expect to enjoy the castles quite as much as I did, their settings enhance their beauty and interest. There are views in every direction that capture imagination and the immediate attention of a camera’s lens.