My inspiration for Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge this week comes from two contrasting signs we spotted on a family summer ramble along the Waskerley Way in County Durham, which forms part of the C2C long distance cycle path.
My first ‘sign’ is an old lichen-encrusted and weathered stone marker, bearing the letters SDR – the initials standing for Stockton & Darlington Railway. Synonymous with the Victorian railway engineers, George and Robert Stephenson, the Stockton & Darlington Railway was the first railway in the world to operate steam locomotives for passenger transport. However, this branch of the line opened on 4th July 1859 and carried mainly iron ore for use in the nearby Consett Ironworks.
My second sign is cast in iron and was designed and produced as one of the Millenium Mileposts to celebrate the creation of the National Cycle Network here in the UK. The Millenium Mileposts were sponsored by The Royal Bank of Scotland.
For Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge this week we are looking at large subjects. ‘Large’ is a relative term. To appreciate the scale of a subject, we have to look at size compared to something else. The large subjects I have chosen from either the built or natural landscape are all quite substantial … at least compared to a human.
This medieval manor house was three storeys high and even the remaining ruins are quite impressive. In this image, you can see the scale of the building compared to the oak tree immediately behind it.
This Victorian railway bridge has been built very tall to accomodate the contours of the ground here on the banks of the River Derwent, so that the railway could be constructed on a given level. You can see the scale of the bridge compared to my son who is walking underneath it.
The Broad Oak gives its name to the farm on which the tree stands and what a magnificent ancient oak tree it is too. The scale of the tree can be deduced from the other trees and bushes in its vicinity.
Whitburn windmill is a restored 18th century flour mill and now it towers above the new housing nearby.
This week I decided to have fun collecting some new photos of signs for Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge. A day of appointments in places at opposite ends of our valley gave me an ideal opportunity.
My son spotted this one first. “Under Offer”, the sign declared boldly. “That’s not under offer,” said my son, “it’s definitely under a tree!” Oh ha ha! Very funny!
We have no idea what is or was “Under Offer”, but I doubt very much that it was referring to either the tree or the mid-high street small oasis of greenery to which the tree belonged. By chance, the blue-fronted shop in the background does happen to be an estate agents office. Now that could be a possible source of an “Under Offer” sign … however, the truth remains a mystery 😀
A little further along Consett’s Middle Street is an antique shop. In the window, the “Abbey Road” sign stopped me in my tracks. For many of us, Abbey Road immediately makes us think of the legendary 60s group, The Beatles.
I don’t know if this is a genuine road sign, somehow acquired from the leafy London road made famous by The Beatles album of the same name. The “Abbey Road” sign was accompanied by a “Baker Street” sign – Sherlock Holmes’ home territory. Seeing both these road signs together made me wonder whether it’s more likely that these signs are perhaps replicas rather than originals.
The hand-stencilled “Jewellery Repairs” sign in this window struck me as rather quaint and in keeping with being in an antique shop. Nowadays, we tend to see signs that have been printed off a computer (like my next sign) rather than being hand-made.
There are three signs on the main entrance door at the Blaydon Primary Care Centre. Two are fairly standard signs for doors of this type, but the third sign always makes me smile 🙂 The term “heely shoes” is apparently a colloquialism that even I, as a native of this area, hadn’t encountered before I saw it on this door sign.
In case you’re wondering, ‘heely shoes’ will refer to shoes with stiletto-type heels or similar. As this building doubles as a sports centre with swimming pool as well as a health centre, I imagine that there could be a risk of skidding or slipping on wet floors in some areas, hence the very sensible decision to prohibit the wearing of high heeled shoes.
After our day’s appointments we headed for our bus home. The view from the bus stop includes several road signs (you can make this image a little larger to see the details by clicking on it) : the green “A1 North” indicating this is a slip road onto the A1 major trunk road for drivers travelling north of Newcastle; the yellow sign with black arrow and triangle, I believe indicates an emergency diversion route for this major road; a little further up the slip road is the “No stopping on the motorway” sign – a blue circle in a red circle with a red cross.
My favourite sign is the last of this group of road signs – the white sign with the pictures in red circles. The pictures indicate that no farm tractors or road digging machines are allowed on this major road during the hours specified in the lower sign – 7-9am and 4-6pm Monday to Friday – that is the hours commuters generally call ‘the rush hour’ when everyone is frantically trying to get to work or school on time, or trying to get home afterwards.
If you can imagine being stuck behind a farm tractor or road digger while trying to rush to work in the morning, you can probably understand why prohibiting these vehicles at peak times may a good plan. However, it always makes me smile because during the rush hour along this stretch of road, the traffic stands nose to tail, edging occasionally along the road at a snail’s pace. I’m not sure it matters much whether you’re stuck behind a farm tractor, a bus or the most powerful car on the road … you’ll still be standing still 😀
Living in a landscape of rivers and old railways means we have lots of bridges in our area. Here are some of my favourite bridge pictures that I’ve previously featured on my blog – from Tyneside icons to forgotten relics – for Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge this week.
We love to walk. Our favourite walks take us on modern multi-user routes, along coastal paths and old railways, but we also love to scramble along leafy, muddy woodland tracks in our own local woods. For Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge this week, we are sharing walks, both indoors and out. All of the photos I have chosen, feature places we love to walk.
My header shot is of our beautiful local beechwoods. We know and love this path in all seasons and all weathers. Its surface can be dry and sandy or distinctly soggy, with deep puddles and rivulets cascading between the tree roots. Its popularity with cyclists in recent years has prompted the addition of limestone gravel to some parts of the path to keep it passable in wet conditions.
I thought I add one indoor walk for this challenge. Sunderland Winter Gardens are like a little oasis in the heart of the city centre. This high level aerial walkway is a wonderful vantage point from which to view the impressive tropical plants in the Winter Gardens. For Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge last week, I showed you the fountains you can see both inside and out at Sunderland’s miniature-tropical-rainforest-in-a-giant-greenhouse.
At least once every Summer, we head out to the North East coast and walk along South Shields Leas to Souter Lighthouse or walk the Whitburn Coastal Path. Both of these paths are maintained by the National Trust along this beautiful and fascinating – but also the most dangerous – stretch of England’s coast.
When we aren’t walking coastal paths, we love to walk along old railways. Here in North East England, we have many old railway tracks that have been turned into a connected set of footpaths.
Here we’re walking through one of the old stations that stood along the Derwent Valley Railway which carried passengers and freight through our leafy green valley last century when coal mines and steel furnaces were the main employers. You can see the train platforms on either side of the track. My son had evidently found something interesting and had climbed up onto the platform from where passengers would have travelled northbound through to Newcastle. This footpath is now known as the Derwent Walk, a multi-user route that forms part of the C2C long-distance cycle route, and which links up to the Waskerley Way, below.
The Waskerley Way railway path takes us out over the heather moors and is another favourite walk of ours in Summer when the purple heather blooms. I love walking this path but you have to go prepared – this is real moorland and the weather can change suddenly. A warm Summer’s day in our valley can mean a cool and brisk breeze on the moor and passing showers envelop you – you literally have your head in the cloud! Warm clothing and waterproofs are definitely a good plan.
Not all of our favourite walks are on wide and well-defined footpaths. We also love leafy woodland tracks. A few years ago we built a camp entirely from natural materials and there I taught the boys to cook outdoors over a small wood fire. The camp was deep in the woods, so the walk to reach it required a bit of scrambling through brambles and steep-sided streams. Here we are taking the narrow track along the top of the stream gorge on our way to cook at the camp.
Wherever we may roam, we always return home, and quite often the walk home is along the old railway in our local woods. Just like our favourite beechwood path that we saw at the beginning of this post, we have walked the old railway in every type of weather – sun, rain, fog, frost, ice and snow. We knew all its muddy puddles. We sometimes even sledged along it on the way home from school, years ago when the boys were young.
When the railway was very dry, you could still see the impressions in the ground where the old wooden railway sleepers had lain when it carried the mineral line that took the coal from our village to Newcastle. I’m slightly sad that this Spring the old railway has been resurfaced with gravel to make a modern multi-user route. However, with the increasing rainfall due to climate change, the puddles in some places were becoming so deep and wide, a boat was almost needed! So perhaps the new path surface was the only practical solution 🙂