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Sun At Last

It’s been a long time since we saw the sun up here in Cumbria. Or at least that’s how it seems.untitled-2-5

After a (normal) late night last night I looked out of the window, far too late to make good use of the day, to see a rather large round fireball in the sky. Upon scratching my head and straining my memory banks I realised it was indeed the sun.

Now I have not been to Lanercost for several years, even though it is only 3 miles from where I live. It is a small village which has a ruined priory with much history associated with the Border Reivers and a beautiful little humped back bridge. The Dacre Hall on the priory grounds was where some of my earliest gigs as a jobbing musician were staged and looking back through more modern history heresay is that the band Black Sabbeth, in an earlier formation, played on the same stage in the late 60s/early 70s. I decided it was well worth getting the camera out and giving it a visit.

untitled-2-8The little Lanercost bridge, built in the 1760s has been closed for traffic since the 1960s and was renovated in ’98. It gives some great views along the river Eden, yes the same eden ehich burst it’s banks in Carlisle in one of my earlier posts, but somewhat more narrow and sedate here.

The sights both up and down stream are typical of north Cumbria at this time of year (3rd February) and although cold makes the area welcoming to visitors and locals alike.

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This view is upstream to the East of the village. From a photographic point of view the big problem with this time of year is easily seen on this shot, shadows, long low shadows. I do however, find that the shadows can give a great advantage for those interested in specific aspects of a shot. The dark area shows clearly the construction of the bridge. Magnificent after almost 400 years!

Here we look downstream to the West. In the summer it is almost impossible to see beyond the island as the trees build their bulk with a colourful display of leaves. But now it is easy to see the river path clearly. Excellent fishing to be had here I’m assured by my fishing orientated pals.

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Even the bed & breakfast guest houses around the bridge have a traditional and rustic charm to them.

I was not planning on staying long, as I said it was bitterly cold and I also realised that being February the day is short so light would disappear very soon.

Standing upon the bridge and looking to the North East I saw my next port of call. The church and priory.untitled-2-15.jpg

I had no intention of going to photograph the ruins. That was for another day. But I have been told that since I was last at Lanercost there has been a lot of development to attract tourists in. I thought that I must see it, especially as there is a café on the site, mmmm warm coffee!

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Here it’s possible to see the relationship between the bridge and the priory.

So many little places like Lanercost open their doors to tourists and ruin the village. I was so hoping that this was not the case here.

To say I was pleasantly surprised is an understatement. The place looks beautiful and where new buildings have been erected they blend in so well with the originals that it is difficult to tell which is which.

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Getting up close to the visitors centre and on site B&B gave a wonderful view of the church and priory standing proud over the top of the buildings.

It really is a hidden treasure of English architecture.

You can see clearly here the way that the new buildings in the foreground fit so well into the scenery.

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Even more impressive when you see one of the original buildings such as this one so close by.

I could not get over the quality of the light. There was a real warmth in the light which contrasted so much with the cold of the air.

untitled-2-41These shots were all taken on my Canon 1D MK iii which is a full frame sensor with a 1.3x crop, an APS-H, as opposed to the APS-C  1.6x sensor on my other cameras. This not only changes the effective zoom ratio but also the aperture too. Perhaps more importantly the dynamic range on the bigger sensor is better too. True the others at 18Mp have a greater resolution than the 10.1 of the 1D but the vibrancy and quality of the image is far superior especially at low ISO numbers. Apart from a small change in exposure and contrast these pictures are really straight from the box jpeg reductions from the original RAW shots.

untitled-2-40Entering through the gateway toward the shop and café gave great relief from the bitter wind which was blowing.

I put the camera bag down on one of the benches on the right to put the camera away before going in, I always feel that it’s rude to walk into a café brandishing cameras and phones etc. while others are relaxing and eating.

Just as I took the lens off I heard the characteristic sound of helicopter blades in the distance.

Now I’m used to hearing low flying aircraft over this area, we are only 7-10 miles from the electronic warfare range at RAF Spadeadam, but this was a sound I was not familiar with. It was a Griffin, an advanced training helicopter based at the defence training establishment at  RAF Shawbury in Wales.

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Popping my 70-300 lens on I just had time to rattle a few shots off. No time to choose shutter speed or aperture I just took what I could. F9 at 1/640 on ISO 200 would not have been my ideal choice, nor would hand holding when I was actually shivering, but still, not bad all the same.

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And so to finish off the day I decided not to bring my coffee and cake (chocolate and marzipan gateaux which, I was assured by the staff, was low calorie…..I think they may have lied) out to sit on the rustic, charming seat but to snuggle up on the warm and inviting red leather sofas inside. No pic from there I’m afraid, I was too busy enjoying my coffee.

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I would honestly recommend a visit to Lanercost. Its situated just 2 miles to the East of Brampton which itself is situated 8 miles East of Carlisle on the A69 road to Newcastle.

See you next time.

Brian

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