Ribblehead Viaduct and the Duchess of Sutherland
I’m by no means a train fanatic :o) but I am rather partial to vintage “stuff” and steam locomotives fit this category. The “Winter Cumbrian Mountain Express” tour started last weekend, so this weekend after a quick weather check I decided to make the 45 minute journey to Ribblehead. I arrived about 45 minutes early, allowing enough time to decide on a good viewpoint.
History tells us that one thousand navvies built this mighty impressive structure and established shanty towns on the moors for themselves and their families. There were smallpox epidemics and deaths from industrial accidents (we don’t know how lucky we are these days). Work commenced in 1870 and ended in 1874, around one hundred navvies were killed during its construction.
24 Arch Ribblehead Viaduct
Anyway, the conditions were promising for obtaining a decent image, the sun was getting low, nice colour in sky and clouds, perfect for a silhouette shot! The locomotive “Duchess of Sutherland” was scheduled to cross the 24 arch viaduct at 16.27 and after trudging across the sodden moor to get to my preferred spot, I’d only been there for a few minutes when another nearby photographer shouted “trains coming”! I didn’t check my watch but I’m pretty sure it must’ve been approximately 15 minutes early. At least I’d had just enough time to take a few test shots to set up the camera.
Now I’m not on my own in saying that when the eagerly anticipated scene unfolded, it was rather an anti-climax. I know the viaduct runs downhill in a southerly direction so the two elements of smoke and steam aren’t going to be as prolific as when the engine has to work harder but the Duchess seemed to limp across Ribblehead going so slow that there was barely a trace of exhaust. Maybe it had slowed down to get back on schedule…?
For me, the smoke and steam is a must have, so…’tis a good excuse to go back soon!
3D Paper Mache Bird Workshop
Sunday 8th March 1 – 4pm
Higherford Mill, Barrowford BB9 6JH
Have a fun day creating a 3d bird with paper mache and recycled magazine paper feathers. Suitable to be framed or hung as it is.
Be prepared to get your hands sticky! £25
Contact Catherine Wells 07792940598 firstname.lastname@example.org
Who can fail to be be enchanted by that small speck of a brown bird the Wren?
Long entwined in folklore and tied up in religious beliefs it is believed to have been a sacred bird to the Druids. Variously being protrayed as a sinner or a saint in the dim and distant past there is still an Irish Tradition carried out today called ‘Wren Day’ on the 26th December. Involving hunting a wren then displaying it on a decorated pole around the houses (nowadays a fake one).
I love the Latin name of the Wren, Troglodytes Troglodytes, so good they had to name it twice! Apparently it means cave dweller? Which makes it all the more appropriate for me as somehow the name Troglodyte reminds me of a giant, which is ironic considering this is one of the UK’s smallest bird. Diminutive this little one may be but tiny it’s voice isn’t. In the warmer months it always amazes me how many times I will be woken from my slumber about 5am by the ear piercing song of the wren, well not a song really just a repetitive tweet. Earlier and louder than any of the other birds, it certainly is not a bird you can ignore.
But seeing it is a different story, you may think you have seen a brown mouse quickly scurrying in the undergrowth before you have realised after a few minutes it is actually a little bird. Once you have got your eye on it, is a delight to see zipping here there and everywhere looking for tasty little morsels for dinner. Usually keeping under cover most of the time, if it does come out in the open you will get the chance to see it’s distinctive little round shape with the cocked up tail.
If we have a prolonged cold winter this bird can really suffer and sometimes their numbers can drop by 90%. Due to their size they are vulnerable to heat loss and will huddle together in a roost somewhere to keep warm in the cold months. Luckily they always seem to recover their numbers as they are one of out most common birds. But I for one never tire of seeing them in my Garden. I hope you like my little Jenny Wren on a branch with one of it’s eggs, I loved making this bird. Catherine x
Our most colourful bird in the Uk the Kingfisher, is a joy to behold.
The walks next to the river are so much more enjoyable if you are lucky enough to catch a glimpse of the bird as it flashes over the surface in a streak
of azure blue. It’s superbly designed beak makes it worthy of it’s name and Kingfisher it certainly is, small fish like the minnow are it’s favourite dish.
As a wildlife artist you have got to re create this bird to enjoy the pure pleasure of selecting the beautiful blues, oranges and browns of this magical looking species. When the final touch is added to the piece and it suddenly comes alive ready to fly of it’s perch, you really appreciate how grateful we should be to have this bird resident in the UK.
I hope you enjoy my photo diary of making the King Fisher.
Til next time Catherine x