The Monmouth Meander
A Photographic Safari in Monmouthshire and surrounds,
by Richard taylor at Taylor's Photo Safaris.
With snow and ice December and January can be very productive photographic months, despite the finger numbing cold temperatures! The light is beautiful if the sun is out: not too bright but stunning orange and gold in the “golden hours” at sunrise and sunset. This Robin in the snow almost glows in the late evening sunshine, and even a common subject such as this is portrayed in glorious colour:
Image 1: Golden Robin
If the sun is not out then dull grey weather can be very limiting for a nature or wildlife photographer especially, unless you are after a specific type of atmospheric picture. Often the search for a subject in dreary weather can get frustrating, but take Harold’s Stones for example, outside Trellech on the B4293. These are ancient; they look older and more mysterious on a duller day. They have a fascinating history and with the Church of St Nicholas in Trellech an interesting morning out with camera is at hand.
Image 2: Harold’s Stones
Photography is very dependent on the available light and on a sunny day the light in Chepstow is glorious: a combination of direct sunlight and reflected light off the Severn Estuary. At the right time of day Chepstow Castle is beautiful all lit up by the sun. However as a subject for a rainy day, some of the stonework is fascinating, and of course the history is well worth uncovering.
Image 3: Chepstow Castle
If it is a little bit of wilderness and solitude you are after then the Forest of Dean is the place to spend an early morning with the camera. Getting there before sunrise you’ll hear the Tawny Owls on the hunt, the deer will be quietly browsing and the Wild Boar will be snuffling about in the undergrowth. Wander in silence and the forest dwellers will show themselves (the animals I mean!). These beautiful Fallow Deer emerged from the trees and were grazing along the verges as I stood quietly amongst the foliage:
Image 4: Fallow Deer
Spring is the time for a wild boar sighting as the little boarlets are out and about and make for very amusing watching in their beautiful striped coats. So cute too!
Image 5: Wild Boarlets
Tintern Abbey is a very impressive focal point for the pretty little ribbon of a village that clings to the banks of the River Wye. Some gorgeous walks are to be had from here and if you have the energy the view of Tintern Abbey from the Devil’s Pulpit is superb...with plenty of places in the village of Tintern to replace the calories or rehydrate with a fine ale.
Image 6: Devil’s Pulpit view of Tintern Abbey
Just outside Monmouth is another stunning view: travel up to The Kymin overlooking the town from the ridge above the River Wye and you can see Hay Bluff, near Hay-on-Wye, and as far as the Brecon Beacons on a clear day. If you want some good exercise you can walk or cycle there and back; alternatively you could book a game of croquet on the lawn in summer, or simply admire the Naval Monument and enjoy the glorious views over Monmouth.
Image 7: Views over Monmouth from The Kymin
Image 8: Naval Monument at The Kymin
(All pictures taken by and Copyright © Richard Taylor)