Tuesday, May 24, 2016

West Woods Bluebells

Bluebells at West Woods in Marlborough by Martyn Ferry Photography

Recently I took a trip down to Marlborough to visit the West Woods in their full bluebell glory. West Woods is a plantation of beech trees on a former ancient woodland site, managed by the Forestry Commission.

Until around 1300 West Woods was part of Savernake Forest, but now, along with Savernake and Collingbourne Woods, form Marlborough Woodland. West Woods is one-fifth of the size of Savernake Forest, and was clear-felled in 1928, leaving only a few Ancient and Veteran trees on the outskirts. It was replanted with mainly Beech, with some Birch, Pine Sycamore and Ash.

As I visited during the week, the woods were relatively empty, especially for the time of year, so I had no trouble getting some shots of the peaceful woodland bejewelled in a sea of brilliant azure.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Austy Woods bluebells

Bluebell wood panoramic in Warwickshire By Martyn Ferry Photography

This morning I paid a visit to Austy Woods, a private woodland located in the heart of Warwickshire. Normally the woods are closed to the public, apart from once a year when the family open them up for two days on the early May bank holiday weekend, to coincide with the eruption of bluebells that occur here every year, and to raise money for charity.

It’s widely recognised as one of the most spectacular displays of bluebells in the county, and beyond I would imagine. Whereas most places have patches of colour, here nearly every part of the woods is carpeted in the sapphire flowers, there must be countless millions of them.

Thankfully they had agreed to let us visit the woodland after the bank holiday, which by all accounts was a bit of a melee, I can’t remember how many thousands of people they said had visited over the two days, but it was a lot. But because we arrived on the Tuesday, we had the place to ourselves, which was rather splendid.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Northumberland Day 4 - A couple of coastal castles

Dunstanburgh Castle in black and white by Martyn Ferry Photography

Following on from my day spent at Howick Hall, I decided to take a ride to Dunstanburgh Castle in the wildly optimistic hope that I might get something for sunset. Stopping at Embleton, I strode across the golf course that runs along the shore, girding myself against the blustery wind, and headed more or less directly to the shoreline that runs beneath the castle walls.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Northumberland Day 3 - Howick Hall Gardens

Snowdrops at Howick Hall by Martyn Ferry Photography

Woke up for sunrise, but it was obvious there wasn't going to be one, just a uniform grey, slowly lightening, which with even the best will in the world, wasn't worth getting out of bed for.

I got up again a bit later and pottered about, I was going to Howick Park, which didn't open until 10.30 so I had plenty of time. I arrived and had a wander into the gardens, which were full of snowdrops. Not many daffodils though which was a shame, as there were thousands planted, but they still had at least a couple of weeks to go. 

Howick Hall, a Grade II* listed building and the ancestral seat of the Earls Grey. It was the home of the Prime Minister Charles, 2nd Earl Grey, after whom the famous tea is named. The original Earl Grey tea was specially blended by a Chinese mandarin to suit the water at Howick, and was later marketed by Twinings.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Northumberland Day 2 - Warkworth Castle & dismal dunes

Warkworth Castle in Northumberland by Martyn Ferry Photography

Woke up to a very dismal morning, so after a spot of breakfast, I drove to Warkworth to have a look at the castle. The place itself hadn't opened for the season yet, but it's well worth a visit to see it standing proud over the town below.

When the castle was founded is uncertain: traditionally its construction has been ascribed to Prince Henry of Scotland in the mid-12th century, but it may have been built by King Henry II of England when he took control of England's northern counties. The then timber castle was considered "feeble", and was left undefended when the Scots invaded in 1173.