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Friday, 15 January 2010

Snowy Landscape Photography on the South Downs

Hopefully I'll be doing Ben Nevis with some friends in a in a few weeks time, so to start getting the legs in order and shoot a few snowy landscapes I took a hike up over the downs the other day. The depth of snow across the top was quite surprising, well past my knees in places and I somehow crossed Beachy Head Road without realising until I noticed that I was heading downhill and shouldn't be - visibility was pretty poor. There was nobody around and going past the empty pub and Countryside Visitor Centre felt rather like featuring in a post-apocalyptic horror movie, I almost expected to hear the growls of starving feral dogs at any moment. The weather opened up quite a bit around Belle Toute and I managed to get a couple of good shots:

  



I finally saw people when I reached Birling Gap, a film crew - a spooky coincidence given my earlier thoughts! They were making a black comedy called 'The Edge', which is set in a hotel with all sorts of odd happenings - I will look out for it.

 


The weather really started to close in on the way back from East Dean and I had to resort to map and compass - can't remember the last time I did this on the Downs. Getting lost wasn't the issue (just head East), but I was keen to avoid taking a route that lost me a lot of height, just to go back up again. I managed to get a position fix before visibility dropped to about twenty metres and spent the next couple of hours in a world of white navigating off the compass about 30 feet at a go.



I came up onto Beachy Brow about 50 metres from where I'd planned, which was a pretty good shot under the circumstances and trudged the last mile home - downhill all the way! The depth of snow had made for quite tough going, but it was a great day and having the Downs all to yourself is a rare event these days.