30th November 2008
Crompton Moor a location I visit almost every day. If I’m not working or shooting elsewhere I take Skadi, our dog, up onto Crompton Moor.
It’s a little patch of wild feeling land that has been reclaimed from it’s industrial past of mining and quarrying.
Perhaps because it is so familiar I have rarely photographed it even though I have seen beautiful conditions there many times.
The Landscape Photographer of the Year prize prompted me to get a smaller camera that I could carry in my pocket and allowed me to start recording the moor properly.
Because I visit so regularly I’m going to run these pages differently.
Instead of a page per visit I’m going to use a page per year to show the gradual changes of the seasons.
This page will just show the Winter of course which is one of my favourite times on the moor.
This morning the nearby urban sprawl of Manchester was mostly obscured by a low lying icy fog which did not quite hide the catalogue distribution centre that is a major employer in Shaw below.
I returned in the evening as the mist drifted over the moor in patches and now even Shaw seemed like just a dream.
The sun was setting over the Cheshire Plains and lighting the sky above the mist, lending an eerie glow to the scenes around us.
I’ve seen the moor in many guises but rarely so mysterious or atmospheric.
Apart from the main coniferous plantations most of the trees here are small and scrubby survivors of the frequent grass fires that scorch the land when the local kids are out of school.
The grass recovers quickly and even thrives, but the heather, shrubs and trees take much longer to return to the hillside.
The mist this evening lifted the moor far from these troubles to another place and time.
Twilight is considered by many cultures to be a time when the veil between this world and others was at it’s thinnest and an unwary traveller could find himself in the lands of faerie or worse.
On a night like this it is easy to see why.
2nd December 2008
A few short days later the scene on Crompton Moor couldn’t be more different, as a quick heavy fall of snow had settled upon the land.
The wind had driven the snow deep into the plantations and created another world rather more in the style of the Brothers Grim.
I almost expected a pack of wolves to appear between the trees but the paw prints all around were just Skadi being helpful.
I’m not usually a fan of coniferous plantations as they tend to become monocultures that support little other life but the trees.
In this place at least they are planted in a way that allows some access to the woods when the weather outside is no friend to the walkers.
A covering of snow somehow disguises the unnatural rows that seems so obvious on a normal day and reminds me of the forests of Northern Europe where trees like this are more at home.
It would be nice to see native trees planted here, but the time such trees need to develop would mean I would never live see the full glory.