Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Summerhill Force (Gibson's Cave) in Flood

After the torrential rain of the last twenty four hours my initial plan was to head up to High Force Waterfall. On the way I noticed that the Tees was certainly very high, but it did not look to be higher than the 28th June 2012 flood level. Instead I headed to Bowlees and had a walk up to Summerhill Force (also known as Gibson's Cave). The dripping foliage and dark, dank and misty conditions gave the place a jungle atmosphere.

05D-6148 Summerhill Force (Gibson's Cave) in Flood Conditions Caused by Heavy Rain on the 24th and 25th September 2012 Bowlees Upper Teesdale County Durham
Summerhill Force. Gibson's Cave is behind the waterfall

Spray form the falls was a major problem and I had a frustrating time trying to capture a few long exposures without the lens getting covered. It was a case of fire the shutter, clean the lens, fire the shutter and clean the lens. Time after time I did this until I eventually managed to capture a handful of images where the spray did not ruin the shot.

05D-6175 Summerhill Force (Gibson's Cave) in Flood Conditions Caused by Heavy Rain on the 24th and 25th September 2012 Bowlees Upper Teesdale County Durham

Compare this to the one below in normal conditions.

04D-1051 Summerhill Force and Gibsons Cave Bowlees Teesdale County Durham UK.
Summerhill Force and Bowlees Beck in normal conditions. Copyright David Forster

Text/Images Copyright David Forster

Friday, 21 September 2012

Badger Cull

Mark Cawardine, Simon King, Bill Oddie, Chris Packam, Charlie -Hamilton James and David Attenborough, all intelligent individuals who are experts in their field and have a good understanding of the natural world.  Each one is passionately opposed to the badger cull.  These are not individuals who don't understand the realities of the countryside, or who are blinded by the cute and fluffy, they are well known, knowledgeable and well respected individuals.  Why then does the government insist on going ahead and killing thousands of animals when common sense and scientific evidence indicates it is wrong?   Well the quote below is by Professor John Bourne who was the Chair of the Independent Scientific Group on TB, it should give you some idea of the thinking that drives politicians.

‘I think the most interesting observation was made to me by a senior politician who said, “fine John we accept your science, but we have to offer the farmers a carrot. And the only carrot we can possibly give them is culling badgers”.
Professor John Bourne (Chair of the Independent Scientific Group (ISG) on TB

One thing I have noticed is that of the few farmers I have spoken to about the cull none have actually sought out any independent information themselves, or for that matter have even read the ISG report.  Instead they have taken at face value everything the National Farmers Union (NFU) has said.  Anyone with an ounce of sense who has bothered to do even a small amount of research can clearly see that it is complete folly, (both as a means of preventing TB as well as financially) to consider a cull. 

If you care in the slightest about wild animals and their welfare I urge you to follow the link below, watch the video, listen to the argument and then sign the petition to stop the badger cull. 

Or simply go direct and sign the petition;

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Review - Rab Alpine Trek Pant (Colour Dark Shark)

I purchased these trousers from George Fishers in Keswick in June http://rab.uk.com/products/mens-clothing/leg-wear/alpine-trek-pants.html.  The trousers were well designed with articulated knees and a double thickness area around the ankle.  The material felt really soft against the skin and wicks moisture away very effectively.  Another area that appealed to me was the cut which is quite generous allowing for plenty of movement when photographing, hiking, scrambling about etc.  They were also understated enough for use around town as well.

I have to be honest here and say that I have always found the kit from this company to be fairly durable and of good quality and currently use the Rab Generator Jacket and Vest, both of which are my favourite buys of 2011/12.

My experience with these trousers however was extremely disappointing.  When I first got them home and had a good look at them I noticed that in some areas around the seams they looked to have faults where the material was thinning.  This was also apparent in other places such as the crotch area and appeared to me to be damage perhaps caused by the machine during stitching.

These thin areas were present from new.

I decided to give them a try and wore them for a couple of weeks while in the Pyrenees.  Within a few days I noticed that they had begun to thin quite alarmingly in any areas where minor abrasion could occur such as the seat and where the rucsack touches.


The material soon began to wear on the seat
Much more worrying though was the crotch area which had worn completely through.  On my return from the Pyrenees I contacted Fishers and they replaced them immediately - excellent customer service.



I wore the replacement pair on two photo trips covering a total of around fifteen miles worth of hill walking only to find they had begun to wear through between the legs. 


 Wear after only 2 days use!

A quick check on the web and the first review that came up also highlighted issues with wear in the same area.  I contacted George Fishers again, but this time to request a refund.  Again their customer service was excellent and I was offered a refund straight away.

In such situations you cannot help but make comparisons with other manufacturers.  For example I have a pair of North Face trousers that are at least eighteen months old and get worn every week, yet they show little significant wear anywhere. 

I don't know if they test each batch of material, or whether they bother to get real people to test this sort of kit regularly, but I have to say I am pretty shocked at the quality of these trousers and cannot believe such a well known, and it has to be said trusted brand, could produce such a poor quality product.

What I do know though, is that I have ended up out of pocket in terms of postage and time, simply to try a pair of trousers. 

Verdict - Very disappointed to say the least 0/5

Saturday, 8 September 2012


The mountain of Ingleborough is one of my favourite mountains. Aside from the great views and the range of possible approaches to the summit, I think part of the reason is the geology and the fact it still clearly carries the scars of its glacial past. From many viewpoints you can clearly see the valleys surrounding the hill have been deeply scoured revealing the underlying bands of limestone rock, atop of which sits Ingleborough with its cap of Millstone Grit. It is as if the glaciers have only just receded and the booming sounds of falling seracs and the strange bangs and cracks that anyone who has spent time on a glacier will recognise have only just fallen silent - in effect a visual echo of the past.  Of course when taking about geological time these glaciers really have only just receded and even now the landscape is still slowly springing back from the great weight of ice placed upon it.

Parking the car in the small parking area on the edge of Storrs Common I made my way up the rough Fell Lane track, stopping every now and again to look at the sky. It has to be said that it did not look too promising for photographs due to a milky band of cloud that sat stubbornly over the western horizon. In such situations it is very easy to feel that photographically it may be a waste of time, but then again if you don't at least try you are guaranteed to fail. Getting onto the scar well before sunset gave me plenty of time to explore the area and identify a few locations. In such surroundings the time raced by and encouraged by a few breaks in the cloud to the west I made a mental note of several possible compositions. Then as the light began to develop I set up several shots using both the still and video cameras. As is typical for me I found it difficult not to rush each shot and had to force myself to slow down and concentrate on only a handful of the myriad of possibilities that presented themselves.

Initially I focussed on the view west across the valley towards Twistleton Scar End and then later Whernside further to the north.

05D-4787 The View West over Twistleton Scar End from White Scars Ingleborough Yorkshire Dales UK
Twistleton Scar End and the view west towards Morecambe bay

05D-4765 Whernside from White Scars on the Lower Slopes of Ingleborough Yorkshire Dales UK
Whernside across the Valley to the north

A little later as the sun continued to penetrate the cloud and Ingleborough became bathed in soft golden light I set up a few more shots.

05D-5448 Ingleborough From White Scars in Late Evening Light Yorkshire Dales National Park UK

05D-5441 Ingleborough From White Scars in Late Evening Light Yorkshire Dales National Park UK

Finally the sun began to drop behind the band of cloud just above the horizon and I changed my focus to the view west towards to the coast and Morecambe Bay.

05D-5481 Sunset from White Scars on the Lower Slopes of Ingleborough Yorkshire Dales UK
Sunset over Morecambe Bay

In what seemed like minutes the light show began to subside and darkness came on very quickly. Despite knowing it would be a descent over rough ground in the dark I found I couldn't drag myself away until every vestige of colour had left the sky.

Eventually I began to make my way slowly back very conscious of the fact that it would be easy to come a cropper while crossing the karst with its deep fissures and loose boulders. To avoid the worst I was careful to circumnavigate as much of the karst I had quite happily skipped across on the way in as possible. So instead of walking on a fixed compass bearing I detoured to the west slightly and then headed south to pick up the wall which would lead more easily to the Fell Lane track. It was no distance at all really, but in the darkness illuminated only by the small pool of light cast by my head torch it somehow felt a bigger undertaking. Making steady progress I reached a small scar across my path. While working out the best way to get around it a low growling noise to my left had the hair standing up on the back of my neck. I am not easily spooked in the mountains but even so I quickly switched the video camera to infrared and pointed it towards the sound. In the now digitised monochrome landscape of the camera screen two sheep stared impassively back. A growling baaaa interrupted by a deep hacking cough confirmed which one was the culprit.

Having switched to infrared I was amazed to see just how much landscape the camera could still portray and I now used it intermittently to help guide me through the scars and boulders back to the gate on Fell Lane. Forty minutes later I was back at the car.

As I arrived I noticed a campervan parked close by and heard the central locking go on the vehicle. Assuming they had locked the doors because a strange bloke had turned up, I was pleasantly surprised to see the door open and the lady inside enquire if I was ok and did I want them to switch on the outside light so that I could see better. A nice gesture to end a cracking day on the hill.