Hadrian’s Wall and the Ghosts at Sycamore Gap II

A steady stream of ghosts making their way to the Sycamore Tree. It is a very intimate space, that was shared by many.

Hadrian’s Wall was built on an undulating part of the Cheviot Hills in Northumberland. It was to keep the Scottish Picts at bay in 122AD after the emperor’s visit.

Hadrian’s Wall in Northumberland. The infamous Sycamore Gap.

This was a filming location that featured in the film Robin Hood Prince of Thieves.

Bad timing to good effect. Lots of people taking their opportunities photograph themselves by this tree and it was a constant flow of people, taking the deep descent into the u shape valley. The big stopper has its uses.

Local History

Bearpark is a village that lies about 3 miles west of Durham City. The village gets its name from the French word Beaurepaire, meaning beautiful retreat. These are the ruins of the priory that were built back in 1258 by the then Prior of Durham Bertram de Middleton, as a retirement residence. It had been extended by the monks of Finchale Priory over period of three centuries. In 1640, the Scots followed by the English Civil War in 1644 had all but destroyed it.

In 1872 Theodore Fry set about coal mining in the village, which produced world class coal for coking fuel. The pit closed during the miner’s strike of 1984. The hills just south of the manor, across the river, were the old pit heaps (coal spoil). They have since been re-landscaped and has been returned to woodland. The old railway lines, linked with the colliery, run along side and is now popular with cyclist, walkers and runners (like myself).

Visit May 2021

I come from Bearpark, and I sometimes pop down to see the ruins when I visit my family. I was amazed of the renovation works carried out by DREAM Heritage, and volunteers from the local communities. Many years ago back in the late 1970’s and early 80’s, there had already been an archaeological dig. Since then, the ruins had been left unkempt, until a couple of years ago when the Dream Heritage started their project. With lockdown, unfortunately I could not help with the project, I would have loved to come up and help out over the odd weekend. My dad tried his a hand, but his health stopped him from continuing with the volunteer groups. They have done amazing work here, and still continue to do so.

I visited last May (2021); my partner took his drone and managed to get a good view from the air, I took my camera, and we were both chuffed with the sunset, as I when we have been before (with my camera), we were not as lucky as we were with it this time. The sunset views west looks out towards Burnhope, which has a huge TV transmitter and is dotted with wind turbines. The manor house is on a small hill, overlooking the River Browney, about a mile north of Bearpark.

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The Buachaille

The Buachaille is a munro (in Scotland a peak over 3000ft) at the entrance of Glen Etive. The route diverts off the A82 along Glen Coe. The road through Glen Etive ends up at Loch Etive at which point it becomes a dead end for vehicles. This is an iconic mountain of Scotland. Lovely to see it in a winter landscape. Here are three slightly different aspects of the mountain.

The Buachaille Glen Etive
The Buachaille with Stream
The Buachaille Stob Dearg

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The Three Sisters viewed just off the A82 the main road to through Glen Coe in the Scottish Highlands. Photograph taken half an hour after sunrise.

Glen Nevis

View from Glen Nevis

17mm wide angle view from the glen below Ben Nevis. I used a medium 0.9 graduated filter to help bring out the clouds

Glen Nevis

40mm wide angle view of the mountains Sgurr a ‘Mhaim on the left and Stob Ban on the right. This line of grass formed a fabulous leading line in both shots. A soft graduated filter was used in this shot.

Post Processing

I had an awful time trying to get the best shots of these. The lighting was not favbourable. The sun is quite low in the sky this time of year in Scotland. Sunrise is around 9am which is a whole hour before my home in England. It is over 300 mile drive from Sheffield to the Scottish Highlands (6 to 7 hours drive in layman’s terms). The time of day at around 2pm is still quite bright to have the flattening effect. The little back screen on the camera gives you a little idea of how they pictures might look; it was almost heart-breaking when I got them into Lightroom, just as well I did several images at different exposure levels.

I wanted to do something a little different in the post editing, and after browsing around a couple of months back, I found the Orton method. Although its been around for a few decades, it was originally discovered using a sharply focussed image and one or more out of focus and exposed to create the soft glow or soft focus effect. This method is credited to Michael Orton back in the mid 1980’s. This technique can be emulated Photoshop and Lightroom, and you don’t necessarily require several images to create it in the digital age (phew!)

I used graduated filters in when I was photographing to try and get the right balance of light and definition in the clouds. When it came to processing I chose the images with the best exposures and ensured they were sharp. The Orton effect uses less punch in the images, the clarity slider is moved to the left as opposed to the right, and sharpness is increased for image contrast. I applied the clarity reduction using the filters in Lightroom, contrast is also added both in the filter and globally, the exposure levels increased slightly; care taken not to overblow the whites and highlights. I used brushes for dodging and burning, increased the sharpness a far bit than my normal form around 48 to say 60, apply the masking to prevent over sharpening the overall images.

I still have a handful of images to post up of my Scottish trip so please keep an eye out for future posts. Its been a while, however its still nice to drop in now and again.

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