Thursday, 25 October 2012

Stockhill Forest, Mendip Hills, Somerset

On the top of the Mendip Hills in Somerset near the village of Priddy lies this small forest. It would be easy to dismiss this forest as just another Forestry Commission pine forest but rewards for the explorer who ventures beyond the gravel pathways are plenty. You soon realise the forest is a patchwork of deciduous and evergreen trees. Visit the forest on a quiet and misty autumnal morning to experience it at it's best.

It occurred to me the other day that I was travelling significant distances to photograph places nowhere near where I live. Admittedly some of these are wonderful places that I have become very fond of, but I was neglecting my own home turf that I love so much. I live at the foot of the Mendip Hills for goodness sake, why am I driving so far for my photography? I realised that in a way I was being lazy. I mean, step onto Dartmoor for instance and you can't help be inspired, but local to home is a little too familiar and in a way harder to seek out something special. Can't see the wood for the trees if you'll excuse the pun. Of course with a bit of effort that local knowledge really ought to bring greater rewards.

I've decided to work at making some new interesting photographs from locations within a few miles of home. Autumn is my favourite time of year and I have been planning on photographing woodlands and forests. On Sunday night I noticed the local weather forecast was for fog most of this week which would make ideal lighting so I drew up a short-list of potential local candidates. Stockhill was one such place and knowing that the Mendip Hills are quite often foggy this time of year I decided to head in that direction first thing Monday.

I was not disappointed. The trees were shrouded in a thick fog and there wasn't a breeze in the air. It wasn't quite as peaceful as I'd hoped as someone was running a petrol generator nearby, a farmer perhaps, but I soon forgot about the noise as I became absorbed by the hidden landscapes I found.

I felt like I had discovered a hidden world and imagined that this would be the kind of place where fairies might live. Certainly I could see why someone might believe such things existed if they spent long enough in the forest.

I haven't quite gone soft enough in the head to believe such things just yet, but I was genuinely amazed at what I found hidden away. I've strolled through this forest on a few occasions and driven past many more, but I genuinely had no idea of the magical places that were hidden away within. Just goes to show what you can find when you really look.

In the end I spent 4 days exploring the forest and have only covered a small corner really. I have to say it was perhaps one of the most rewarding few days I have ever spent with a camera, well except for an hour or two when 'The Teddy Bear's Picnic' song became stuck in my head yesterday - the less said about that the better! I'll not give too much away, but if you want to find the fairies, look out for the path in the last picture ;)

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