Black Mountains Forest
Following a walk in the Grwyne Fawr valley last weekend, I’ve been reminded of this photo this week, with the twinkling snow on the forest floor, and the single spruce(?) tree highlighted by the sun breaking through the canopy. The Black Mountains are currently shrouded in mist with fresh sleet/snow falling, but on Sunday conditions were gorgeous, the sun was out and there was around a foot of snow lying on the summits (more in the occasional drifts). Mynydd Duon is the name of the forest on the maps, but it doesn’t mean much to most people, and it isn’t so much a destination as a place you pass through as you climb into the highest region of the Black Mountains. But I think there’s still something interesting about these woods: there’s an atmosphere and a quality of light at times that is outstanding, especially in the winter. I really like the way the sun’s rays break through the lines of trees to highlight certain features, or the Narnia-like feeling you get from the snow-covered branches, or the feeling that you’re cocooned away in the heart of the woods, with muffled sounds coming from outside. I know that forestry is generally seen as just an artificial landscape in the UK, and it isn’t valued as much beyond being a source of timber, especially in terms of conservation, but I’ve always had a soft spot for the Forestry Commission’s many sites. It comes from childhood memories I guess, generally from forests around the midlands, like the Forest of Dean or the Wyre Forest. We often used to go out for picnics or a Sunday afternoon walk, and generally had a good time. Now, as an adult I try to capture the many moods of these forests, and have to resist the urge to take a photo every five minutes! That was definitely the case last weekend, and I’m looking forward to getting the film developed in due course.
The rest of the walk was really good too, with a gathering storm on the horizon (which caught up with us on the way down) the skies were very dramatic. The only problem was the snow: the route hadn’t been walked very much since the snow fell, so we were blazing our own trail, which really saps your energy, especially when you go knee-deep into a drift you didn’t realise was there, or trip over a snow-covered rock! So, by the time we got back to the car, our feet were dog-tired, our muscles burning and our joints creaking, but it was a kind of happy exhaustion, definitely worth the effort.
To buy the print, a standard size is ideal, but other dimensions will work too.
All images © Stephen Tyrrell, Mountains, Wild Places & Water, 2013. All rights reserved.