Starting the year …

… the way I intend to continue – on a bike on January 1st. Plenty of rain meant there was no salt on the roads and the temperatures well above 10ºC – almost perfect riding conditions, but for the mucky surfaces.  I am fortunate to live among country roads, not best for a sports bike, but ideal for the Scrambler.  A couple of miles north and I am on the Military Road, which runs from Heddon in the east to Greenhead in the west.  For much of its length, it runs parallel to Hadrian’s Wall and north of the old Stanegate Roman road.  There are any number of diversions, south or north, which take you away from this almost arrow-straight tarmac, built by Field Marshal Wade in 1746 to enable easy movement of the troops and equipment necessary to supress the Jacobite uprising.  It is a wild, exposed, glorious landscape.

The arrow-straight Military Road near High Teppermoor.

The road less traveled – between Hound Hill and Melkridge Common.

Towards Gibbs Hill from Hound Hill.

Parked up at the foot of Hound Hill.

Towards Cowburn Rigg from Hound Hill.



Anticyclonic gloom …

According to our local BBC weatherman, Paul Mooney, we are suffering from ‘an anticyclonic gloom – cloud trapped under a high pressure with nowhere to go’.  In short, these are very dull days, none more so than today. This morning found us along the Military Road near Brunton Bank and Wall. In the past I would have left the bulky SLR at home and traveled light but the Fuji X100s is so compact with no lenses to carry/switch and such a delight to handle it would be stupid to leave it behind – it is techno-jewelry.

Inevitably something unexpected always pops up – today it was one proud tree, alone on a hill, not seeing the sun going down; and a gin gang.  With the help of Photoshop and OnOne you could be fooled into thinking the sun was shining – it wasn’t:

Tree on the hill ...Farm buildings ...

(click on the images to enlarge)

In depth …

Weekly Photo Challenge: Depth – You can live somewhere a long time and still find hidden places near to home that you never knew existed. It is my constant challenge – the good lady likes to walk and I am happy to join her except I don’t like to cover the same ground too often.  Consequently OS Landranger Map 87, Hexham & Haltwhistle is a well-thumbed reference.

On Sunday, Magical Mystery Tours Inc headed for the Military Road to discover the delights of Black Carts, Green Carts, Low Teppermoor and Sharpley – no, I had never heard of them before either. In truth, there was not much to discover ‘just’ a wild open landscape, a lot of sheep, snow and ice, all north of the Roman Wall. At Sharpley we were joined by an extremely friendly collie for a mile or so (yes, another) who, on reaching the main road obediently turned for home – remarkable.

Three images that contrive to demonstrate depth: the first relating to the depth of snow; the second to depth of vision – just what happens to that road as it abruptly disappears; the third to the depth of water – is that a lake a pond or a puddle.

Drift ... Road to nowhere ...
Lake pond or puddle ...


Unconnected with this challenge – we also met a friendly sheep at Sharpley – he or she is here.

And by popular demand, here she is 🙂

Friendly face ...


Weekly Photo Challenge: Perspective – the Military Road follows Hadrian’s Wall from Heddon on the Wall to Greenhead.  For much of its length it as arrow straight. On its northern side, just beyond the Errington Arms at Stagshaw roundabout, sits this fine hemmel (it is about a mile east from here – it is also clearly visible on Google Street View).

Northumberland is a vast, wild landscape north of the Military Road. The county is almost empty all the way to the Scottish Borders – you must travel many miles north again before this wildness returns.

This building adds scale to the emptiness and puts the distances in perspective:

The Hemmel

(click on the image to enlarge)

I want it to be known that I suffer for my ‘art’ 🙂  Having taken a steaming hot shower I then went out on the motorbike + camera when the wind chill factor must have been somewhere near zero degrees – not a good idea. I am still not entirely recovered 24 hours later 😦

Weekly Photo Challenge: A Day in The Life

A day in the life – I guess it should be “my life” but I enjoy the oblique reference to Lennon & McCartney:

Woke up, fell out of bed 
Dragged a comb across my head 
Found my way downstairs and drank a cup 
And looking up, I noticed I was late 

Saturday 30th March 2013, the clocks change tonight in the UK and the light begins its return to the evening skies.  I hasten to add this is not a typical day, indeed these last few weeks it has been very untypical, there being more chance of snowboarding than playing golf. First thing this morning it looked like more of the same as our new neighbours looked distinctly uncomfortable in a north easterly blizzard. Nevertheless, as the morning progressed the weather eased and by 11:30 conditions were relatively benign.  The day starts from warming up the car, heading along the Military Road to Matfen Golf Club, completing a very enjoyable round, mostly in the sun, and then heading home to once again sit in front of a PC screen – I omitted a photo of the latter, it being sort of self-evident from this post.

All the photos were taken on a Samsung SII smartphone and then given the Instagram treatment:

Morning mist

Inspired by a misty Northumberland morning I skipped breakfast and headed for Heavenfield, just east of Chollerford on the Military Road.  The idea was to take some photographs of St Oswald’s in the early morning mist but it was actually sitting in the clear above the clinging cold air of the valleys.  These are three views north from the back of the graveyard:

Morning mist

Morning mist

Morning mistIt is a shame the moles have been so busy in the night 🙂  (click on the images to enlarge).