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New Year on Dartmoor

New Year on Dartmoor

For most of us, our travel plans for 2020 pretty much all crashed and burned. With varying degrees of restrictions and lockdowns, even travel within one country became tricky to plan. At the start of 2020, my work schedule for the coming December and early January had me working in the western Indian Ocean. Alas covid-19 changed all that and, like so many others, my year was very different to that planned. Planning a short winter holiday break with my son Calum, and hoping to combine this with some good photographic opportunities, we planned to head up to northwest Scotland and fit in a few days walking and camping. Alas stricter travel restrictions imposed on the UK in December meant that plan was no longer possible. So instead we looked locally and decided that a couple of days camping on the moors of Dartmoor, Devon, would be the best option.

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A friend dropped us off in the middle of the National Park around 11.30 in the morning, New Year’s Eve, and would pick us up again mid-afternoon two days later. Our packs were pretty large as, apart from camping and camera equipment, we carried three days food supplies, and once the temperature slips below zero we can both eat a lot!  The route two our chosen campsite, at the top of a waterfall, took us around five hours to hike, including the rather chilly fording of a river.  The slipperiness of the rocks underfoot, combined with the numbing effect on our feet and the sheer weight of our packs – threatening to topple us sideways with every stumble – made for a highly entertaining crossing, but not one we were keen to repeat.

Calum makes it across the river

Hiking over steep, boggy ground covered in thigh-high tussock grass, topped off with a layer of snow was an interesting experience, and we both lost count of the number of times one foot would disappear into a deep, cold pool, sending us sprawling sideways.

Stomping through snow covered bog became hard work. Photo by Calum Munro

The sun had already set and the temperature was dropping sharply when we arrived.  Despite numb fingers our tent went up in record time and we were cooking beef curry over the camping stove 30 minutes later. I was grateful I’d brought butane/propane mix gas cylinders rather than the standard (and cheaper) butane camping gas. (Butane is fine in summer, but has a boiling point of -1 degree Celcius (30 deg F). This matters, as it is of course the gas, not the liquid that burns. The gas is liquid under pressure (in the cylinder) but needs to boil and become a gas when it is released in order for it to produce a flame. Propane, by contrast, has a boiling point of -42 degrees Celcius (-44 deg F) so no worries there about it turning to a gas. Propane has the disadvantage that the vapour pressure – the pressure it exerts against the cylinder walls – is considerably greater and so stronger cylinders are required. As few of us require to cook at -42 degrees C a compromise is a butane/propane mix. Okay, probably too much chemistry already!)

As the day progressed the weather deteriorated

Having arrived at 4.30pm, by 6pm we had both consumed a mountain of rice and curry and were already in our sleeping bags. I had been given a bottle of Mackinlay’s Shackleton whisky (inspired by the 25 cases of Mackinlays that Ernest Shackleton had taken with him on the Nimrod Expedition to Antarctica in 1907, three cases of which were rediscovered – frozen in the ice – in 2007) and a small amount of this has stowed away in my rucksack. So it only seemed fitting to toast in the New Year with a swig or two.

Curry simmering nicely next to my frozen boots

New Year’s morning arrived cold and grey. Low cloud blanketed the sky and the sun was little more than a faint glow in the southern sky.

New Year’s morning

I eventually crawled out of my sleeping bag when the desire for coffee and breakfast became greater than the desire to remain in my sleeping bag. Pulling on my boots, not the easiest of tasks as they were frozen stiff with large amounts of ice adhering to them, I forced myself out of the tent and made my way down to the river to fill our kettle. The previous day’s snow had turned to ice in many places, so this a process of skidding and sliding down the bank, being careful not to end up in the river.

Breakfast, New Year’s Day

Calum’s boots were considerably worse than mine. Having absorbed a considerable amount of water during the yesterday’s hike, they were now both saturated and frozen solid as rock, so they had to be gradually thawed and dried as much as possible. This put paid to any idea of hiking anywhere that day had we felt inclined to do so. Too many decades of carrying heavy packs and diving cylinders has reduced the intervertebral discs of my spine from thick spongy cushions to something more akin to sheets of rice paper, so I for one was quite content to spend the day relaxing in the proximity of the tent and leave our packs off for 24 hours.

The sun was barely a glow in the southern sky on New Year’s day.

During the afternoon I went back down to the river with my camera, and spent some time balancing on the rocks just beneath the waterfall. Continually splashing water had created the most wonderful patterns of icicle curtains fringing the rocks, but as the water was too deep to stand in and the mid-river boulders were coated in a thin sheen of ice, every photograph was a careful cost-benefit analysis of how much I wanted the picture against what were the chances both I and the camera would end up in the river.

Icicles hung from the boulders scattered across the river

Days are short at the beginning of January, and so cooking dinner began at around 3pm. Hot soup, followed by chicken curry and then sticky toffee pudding left us just enough time to wash up and clear away our cooking utensils before the sun set. Five thirty pm and the sky was dark. However, despite the cloud cover, an almost full moon reflecting off the snow-covered land produced an eerie glow – sufficient to see quite some distance across the moor. By six pm were were in our sleeping bags, ready for sleep. The following morning we would pack up and begin our hike back .

When you’re all packed up, leave no signs other than melted snow.

Art Prints

You can browse my prints: fine art giclee prints, acrylic facemount prints and canvas wraps on my main website www.colinmunrophotography.com.

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Dartmoor images Fine Art prints of Dartmoor

Skull and jawbone on a windswept moorland. Dartmoor, Devon. Colin Munro Photography

 

As Christmas draws near, why not give a photographic art of local landscapesas a gift? My Dartmoor images are available as art prints and cards. These can be purchased dierct from me (see below). As a long term Devon resident, and keen supporter of Devon Wildlife Trust and its work, 10% of all purchases made before Christmas will be donated to the Devon Wildlife Trust. All images on my website are watermarked.  This will NOT appear on the print.

I’ve been taking a few Dartmoor images recently. The moor always looks more interesting as the weather turns colder and the days shorter. This has resulted in a few nights camping out. Sometimes chasing the elusive sunrise that remains hidden behind a thick blanket of grey cloud; sometimes up to mid-thigh in freezing fast-flowing rivers. So I’ve decided to pull a few together, some old, some new. I try and steer clear of well worn styles and try to capture the feel and atmosphere of the moor, the bleak, harsh beauty and the wide open spaces. As ever, all my images are available to purchase as fine art prints, each printed to order to specific requirements. If you’d like to know more then email me here.

Lichen covered granite boulders of a dry stone wall. Dartmoor Devon. Colin Munro Photography. Fine Art prints

Image 1346. Lichen covered granite boulders of a dry stone wall. Dartmoor Devon.

The glow from a lantern inside a dome tent on a starry, moonlit night on Dartmoor.  Colin Munro Photography.

Image 1002. The glow from a lantern inside a dome tent on a starry, moonlit night on Dartmoor

Icicles and ice formations around a fast flowing stream on the steep-sided Teign Valley, Dartmoor, Devon.  Available as a fine art print. Colin Munro Photography. www.colinmunrophotography.com

Image 1054. Icicles and ice formations around a fast flowing stream on the steep-sided Teign Valley, Dartmoor, Devon.

Boulders and small waterfalls on the East Dart River, high on Dartmoor above Two Bridges. Dartmoor National Park. Fine Art prints for sale. Colin Munro Photography. www.colinmunrophotography.com

Image 1019. Boulders and small waterfalls on the East Dart River, high on Dartmoor above Two Bridges. Dartmoor National Park

Icicles form along the lip of a rocky overhang on the steep sides of the River Teign Valley, East Dartmoor, Dartmoor National Park,  Devon, England.  Fine art prints available. Colin Munro Photography. www.colinmunrophotography.com

Image 1057. Icicles form along the lip of a rocky overhang on the steep sides of the River Teign Valley, East Dartmoor, Dartmoor National Park.

The East Dart River tumbles through a boulder strewn valley, East Dartmoor.  An HDR image.  This image is available as a fine art print to purchase. Colin Munro Photography. www.colinmunrophotography.com

Image 1348. The East Dart River tumbles through a boulder strewn valley, East Dartmoor.

Icicles over a moorland stream, Dartmoor National Park, Devon, England. colin Munro photography

Image 791. Icicles over a moorland stream, Dartmoor National Park, Devon.

Icicles above a small waterfall on the South Teign River, Dartmoor, Devon, England. Colin Munro Photography. www.colinmunrophotography.com

Image 41. Icicles above a small waterfall on the South Teign River, Dartmoor.

Wind dried bones picked clean by ravens and foxes.  Dartmoor National Park. Colin Munro Photography. www.colinmunrophotography.com

Image 1349. Wind dried bones picked clean by ravens and foxes. Dartmoor National Park.

The boulder-strewn steep sided valley of the East Dart River above Two Bridges, Dartmoor National Park, Devon. Colin Munro Photography

Image 1020. The boulder-strewn steep sided valley of the East Dart River above Two Bridges, Dartmoor National Park, Devon

Boulders and small waterfalls on the East Dart River, high on Dartmoor above Two Bridges.  Dartmoor National Park Colin Munro Photography

Image 1021. Boulders and small waterfalls on the East Dart River, high on Dartmoor above Two Bridges. Dartmoor National Park.Fine Art Prints.

FINE ART PRINTS All of the above images can be puchased as Fine Art, archive quality prints on high grade paper or canvas.

Prints up to 10×15 inches (25x38cm) size are produced on Fuji Crystal Archive DP Professional Paper using the latest Fuji Frontier Digital Wet Photographic processing. This system produces rich, vibrant colours and has an archival life of up to 35 years, making ideal for producing long lasting prints. They are available in Pearl or Gloss finish.

8×12 inches (20x30cm) prints are available for only £22 per print.
10×15 inches (25x38cm) prints are available for only £32 per print.

If you are interested in purchasing one or more prints please call or email me stating the finish (pearl or gloss) and the size required. Currently I am happy to accept PayPal, bank transfer, cheque or cash on collection. Cheques will need to clear before delivery.
Please add £2.50 for postage and packaging to mainland UK, worldwide postage on request.

Larger prints, up to 62 inches (1075cm) across are available.
These can be printed on photo gloss or pearl paper, fine art rag paper or on canvas.
Block mounts and backlit
Again the prints can be supplied in block mounts or as a print for backlighting. Please contact me for details and prices.

HOW TO BUY. If you are interested in any of the above options please email or call me, 07926 478 199, stating the Image Number (given in caption), image size, finish (pearl or gloss) and number of images and how you would like to pay.  I will then reply confirming the amount.

Paypal: To pay for prints by simply log in to paypal and make the payment to colin (at) colinmunrophotography.com.
Bank transfer: To pay by bank transfer simply let me know in your email and I will include the account details in my response.
Cheque: To pay by cheque, let me know and I will include the postal address in my reply. Please note that you will need to allow extra time for cheques to clear on delivery times.
Confirmation:Once I receive payment I will email you confirming this. Prints should then be despatched within five working days.

More prints

You can search my blog for prints for sale by typing ‘Prints for sale’ in the seach box at the top, or simply by clicking this link.

Email me or telephone +44 (0)7926478199 for prices and delivery details.

More... See more of my Devon images fine art prints here

The wreck of an old wooden boat trapped in ice covered mudflats is silhouetted against an ominous sky. Exe Estuary near Turf Locks, Devon, UK. Fine Art Prints for sale. Colin Munro Photography. www.colinmunrophotography.com

Old wooden boat trapped in ice covered mudflats

More of my Dartmoor images are available on Photoshelter, where prints can be bought or images licensed click here
A selection of my images are available on Redbubble (Australia) as prints, posters and cards here

Sunrise over Cockwood Harbour at low tide, Exe Estuary, Devon.

Dawn over Cockwood Harbour on a frosty December morning.

Courses, Classes and Workshops. If you like my Dartmoor images you may be interested in my one day landscape photography courses for individuals and small groups autumn/winter 2012. These will be based around the Exe and Teign Estuaries and East Dartmoor. More info here.

Enfield Bullet 500cc at sunset. Prints for sale, Colin Munro Photography.

Enfield Bullet 500cc at sunset.

Photoshop is an essential part of my toolkit for successful landscape photographs, in the same way we used to dodge and burn prints when working with film.  If you would like to learn more about the potential of Photoshop to enhance your images why not sign up for one of my one to one (or small group) Photoshop sessions.  These are economical and targetted at exactly what you want to learn.  More info here.