Heart of The Cosmos


Look again at that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every “superstar,” every “supreme leader,” every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there – on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.

Carl Sagan 1994


Sunset Over The West Shore

© Peter Hillman ♦ April 2011 ♦ Llandudno, Wales ♦ Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ38


Llandudno Pier


A misty day on the beach at Llanudno, but we can still see the pier dating from the late 1800s stretching out across the sea. The pier is the longest in Wales, being 700m (2,295ft) long. Beyond the Grand Hotel where Winston Churchill once stayed, is a glimpse of the Great Orme.


© Peter Hillman ♦ 18th April 2011 ♦ West Shore Beach, Llandudno, Wales ♦ Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ38

© Peter Hillman ♦ 21st April 2011 ♦ Llandudno, Wales ♦ Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ38


Totland Pier


Totland Bay Pier was completed in 1880, with a small shelter at the pier head and a small amusement arcade at the shore side. It is a 450ft (137m) long cast-iron girder construction. The funds to build it were raised by the nearby Totland Hotel which has since been demolished. During the Victorian era it was used to allow paddle steamers to dock, enabling tourists to visit the area.


Totland Pier

Sadly the bulk of the pier has now become derelict and closed to the public, but a nice little cafe has replaced the arcade shore side, and I had coffee there on a bench outside. The last time I visited here was back in the ealy 1990s, and an artist had bought it and used it as his studio. The pier aside, I really like the green-cloaked rocks on the beach.


Copyright: Peter Hillman
Camera used: Nikon D7200
Date taken: 5th September 2019
Place: Totland, Isle of Wight, England


Not of This World …

Alum Bay

… ah,  but it is … on the third rock from the sun, planet Earth.

Alum Bay

Alum Bay on the Isle of Wight is quite famous for its different coloured sands, and a craft tourist industry has grown up around it since early Victorian times.

Alum Bay

Here are cliffs of sand of varying hues. The sands are coloured due to oxidised iron compounds formed under different conditions, and look great layered in shaped glass ornaments. There are usually 21 shades of sand available.

Alum Bay

Turning your head away from these magnificent cliffs towards the sea and you will see the Needles as featured in the previous post.

Alum Bay

Alum Bay

September 2019 © Pete Hillman.

Turnstone

Turnstone Arenaria interpres

Also called the Ruddy Turnstone (Arenaria interpres), this was another first for me. There were many of these little birds on the seashore bulldozing the seaweed out of their way with their heads in search of invertebrates hiding underneath it.

Turnstone Arenaria interpres

Turnstone Arenaria interpres

Turnstone Arenaria interpres

Feel free to click the images to enlarge and click again to get even closer …


East Cowes, Isle of Wight. September 2019 © Pete Hillman.

 

When The Tide Goes Out

Little Egret Egretta garzetta

When the tide goes out to reveal shallow pools and masses of clumped seaweed it is time for the waders to come and feed.

Little Egret Egretta garzetta

This Little Egret (Egretta garzetta) does an odd little dance to agitate the water to stir up small fish and invertebrates on which it feeds.

Little Egret Egretta garzetta

Little Egret Egretta garzetta

Feel free to click the images to enlarge and click again to get even closer …


East Cowes, Isle of Wight. September 2019 © Pete Hillman.

Pretty In Pink

Common Restharrow Ononis repens

When I first spied these little beauties along the seafront, especially as they appeared to glisten in the freshly fallen rain, I thought oh yes, wow! How lovely!

Common Restharrow Ononis repens

The small brightly pink flowers kind of jump out at you. The plant is called Common Restharrow (Ononis repens).

Common Restharrow Ononis repens

Common Restharrow Ononis repens

Exmouth, Devon. August 2019 © Pete Hillman.

Give It Some Mussel

Common Mussel Mytilus edulis

Common Mussel (Mytilus edulis)  Exmouth, Devon. August 2019 © Pete Hillman.

Beauty On The Verge

Common Mallow Malva sylvestris

This ‘looker’ of a wild flower, rain-speckled and dotted with holes as it may be, is called the Common Mallow (Malva sylvestris), and can be seen either on wasteground, in a garden, or on a roadside verge near you this summer. It is a very good provider of nectar for the insect world.

Exmouth, Devon. © Pete Hillman August 2019

Keeping Balance

Shanklin Beach

On a stroll across a quieter section of beach where the tide had gone out I came across this little arrangement of rocks. They kind of reminded me of the remains of a prehistoric cairn, although this is most likely child’s play.


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Shanklin Beach, Isle of Wight, England, August 2018 © Pete Hillman.

Isle of Wight

Ventnor chalk cliffs

You can’t help but see chalk cliffs wherever you go on the Isle of Wight, so I couldn’t resist getting closer to the stuff on a walk along the Ventnor coastline. Plus I have a thing about textures.

Ventnor chalk cliffs

The island gets its name not from the colour white, but from ‘wight’. There are several explanations but the most likely are:

1. Around 1900 BC the Beaker people arrived – so-called from their distinctive pottery. They called the Island “Wiht” (Weight) meaning raised or what rises over the sea. Then the Romans arrived in 43AD and translated “Wiht” into the name Vectis from the Latin veho meaning “lifting”.

2. 400BC – Iron Age Celts from the Continent gave Wight its name, meaning ‘place of the division, because it is between the two arms of the Solent. It is one of the Island’s few surviving Celtic names.

Ventnor chalk cliffs

So how is chalk formed? Well, from dead things of long ago.

Chalk rock (calcium carbonate), a pure form of limestone formed in warm, tropical seas about 100 million years ago in the Cretaceous Period, a time when dinosaurs roamed the planet. Microscopic marine algae, called coccoliths, lived in the ancient sea. Their shells were made of calcite. As the algae died, their bodies sunk to the sea floor and chalk sediment was deposited. Over millions of years layers of chalk sediment were deposits caused compaction of loose sediment into solid chalk rock.

Ventnor chalk cliffs

There there lies your geology lesson for the day 🙂


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Isle of Wight, England, August 2018 © Pete Hillman.

Mysterious Sea Mist

Sea Mist From Luccombe Bay

This mysterious sea mist drifted in from Luccombe Bay. As soon as it appeared it disappeared. Memories of John Carpenter’s ‘The Fog’ came to mind. It had quite an eerie quality to it.


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Isle of Wight, England, August 2018 © Pete Hillman.

Pots

Rylstone Manor Hotel Shanklin

Something a bit different here, I know. I have a thing about ornate chimney pots, and couldn’t help but feature these here. They are from Rylstone Manor Hotel at Shanklin, but a stone’s throw from Shanklin Chine and set in beautiful gardens. Rylstone Manor was originally built as a gentleman’s residence in 1863 and remained a private residence until 1923. The Manor is of Victorian proportion and incorporates a blend of Gothic, Tudor and Georgian influences. I only took photos of the chimney pots for there was a dark SUV parked out the front of the main buildingt and the image just would not have worked.

Rylstone Manor Hotel Shanklin

I was quite taken how much detail and artistry was put into these tall chimney pots, and how varied the patterning was. They may have had a red glaze on them at sometime in the distant past.

Rylstone Manor Hotel Shanklin

Rylstone Manor Hotel Shanklin


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Isle of Wight, England, August 2018 © Pete Hillman.

As The Sun Sets

Shanklin

This photo was taken during a pleasant evening’s walk along Keats Green at Shanklin. In the distance, across Sandown Bay, we can see the white chalk cliffs of Culver Down. We can just make out a tall edifice on its top. It is called the Yarborough Monument, erected in memory to Charles Anderson-Pelham, the 2nd Baron Yarborough (later first Earl of Yarborough and also Baron Worsley), founder of the Royal Yacht Squadron at Cowes.


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Isle of Wight, England, August 2018 © Pete Hillman.

Coming In To Land

Herring Gull Larus argentatus Juvenille

Herring Gull Larus argentatus Juvenille

Herring Gull Larus argentatus Juvenille

Herring Gull Larus argentatus Juvenille

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Herring Gull (Larus argentatus) juvenille, Shanklin Beach, Isle of White, England, August 2018 © Pete Hillman.

Spot The Little Fishy

Shanny Lipophrys pholis

I believe these are Shanny (Lipophrys pholis), also called Blenny. As the tide pulled out it left these crystal clear pools of water and in them they teemed with these young fish which moved nimbly through the shallow water. They are so well adapted to their environment you would hardly notice them until they moved.

Shanny Lipophrys pholis

Shanny Lipophrys pholis

Shanny Lipophrys pholis

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Shanklin Beach, Isle of White, England, August 2018 © Pete Hillman.

Underwater

Gutweed Ulva intestinalis

I love how the sunlight sparkles and shimmers within the rippling movement of the waters on the coast. These are abstract worlds which I would like to glimpse more often than I do, full of the richness of life and wonder. These images feature what I believe is a seaweed called Gutweed (Ulva intestinalis).

Gutweed Ulva intestinalis

Gutweed Ulva intestinalis

Gutweed Ulva intestinalis

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Shanklin Beach, Isle of White, England, August 2018 © Pete Hillman.

Love By The Lake

Common Blue Damselfly Enallagma cyathigerum mating

Common Blue Damselfly (Enallagma cyathigerum), July 2018 Derwentwater, Cumbria, England. © Pete Hillman.

Watching The Geese

Greylag goose Anser anser

I think this goose was actually watching me! It was a beautiful start to the day again down by the lake. An easier day beckoned after walking up and down Walla Crag the day before, so what better way to spend but down by the shimmering waters of Derwentwater.

Greylag goose Anser anser

The Greylag geese were certainly enjoying themselves and cooling down.

Derwentwater

This was beautiful stretch of shoreline, looking down the length of the lake, the humpy Catbells to the side.

Derwentwater

Along with the geese folk were out on the water, all having some fun in the morning sun.


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July 2018, Derwentwater, Keswick, Cumbria, England. © Pete Hillman.

Meadowsweet

Meadowsweet Filipendula ulmaria

On a stroll around Derwentwater I saw drifts of this most beautiful flower Meadowsweet (Filipendula ulmaria). It was even growing amongst the rocks on the shoreline. It is a member of the rose family Rosaceae, and it thrives in wet and damp places. It is commonly found in damp meadows and has a very sweet fragrance, hence its name.

Meadowsweet Filipendula ulmaria

July 2018, Derwentwater, Keswick, Cumbria, England. © Pete Hillman.

The Stony Stream

River Greta

This is actually a shot of the River Greta which runs through Keswick. ‘Greta’ derives from the Old Norse ‘Griótá’, meaning ‘stony stream’.

I have always been fascinated with the concept of just focusing on something, a small part of something, like a patch of grass, or a section of river. I find I see more detail than if I take in the whole. This is the thing with photography, you will never ever capture that same moment again. Whatever the image it is unique, and there is such beauty in that uniqueness.

I used a slower shutter speed to capture the above image. Doing it hand-held is pretty tricky as I wanted to keep the lovely detail in the stones and the driftwood, and yet I also wanted to retain some equilibrium to capture the movement and texture within the flowing water itself. I love to see those little swirls around the stones, and the foamy splashes and silky rippliness (another word that I am not sure really exists, but sounds okay).

This was indeed a lovely spot sitting on the grassy bank, just being, and flowing with the stony stream …


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July 2018, Keswick, Cumbria, England. © Pete Hillman.

Into The Marsh

Equisetum fluviatile

You may be wondering what this is a photograph of, huh? Well it looks kind of like very fine green barbed wire, but no. It’s not a kind of grass, either. It is does not have any Photoshop jiggery pokery either, this is as I had taken it near the shore of Derwentwater. It was difficult to get at because of a dense screen of trees, so I used my extended zoom. Any ideas, yet?

Well I know it is a Horsetail, and I think it is the Water Horsetail (Equisetum fluviatile).


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July 2018, Derwentwater, Keswick, Cumbria, England. © Pete Hillman.

Castlerigg Stone Circle

Castlerigg Stone Circle

I walked 3 miles from the centre of Keswick to this most mystical and magical Neolithic stone circle of Castlerigg. It is around 5200 years old, built before the Pyramids. I fell in love with it and its magnificent setting some 18 years ago when I first visited here. It is located on a low plateau above Keswick, and is surrounded as in an amphitheatre by mountains and fells which are simply stunning to behold. One could not fail but to be moved when capturing and taking in the whole vision on first sighting.

Castlerigg Stone Circle

I found it stirred and pulled at something deep within me. I couldn’t help but marvel at how people of such an ancient past age had conceived of such an idea, placing such time, effort and energy in such a large project. They were so attuned to nature and the landscape around them, and their view of the world and life was a lot different from ours is today. However they built a beautiful and enigmatic monument which has certainly stood the test of time.

Castlerigg Stone Circle

Viewed from within the circle and looking northwards there are two large stones with a wide opening between them which may have been an entrance way. There are 38 stones varying in size and shape forming the circle, and there is a legend that the stones are uncountable. The original circle may have had up to 42 stones as there are some apparent gaps. The tallest stone is 2.3m (7.5 feet) high, and the heaviest is 16 tons, and all are made from local rock which formed an ancient seabed over 400 million years ago.

Castlerigg Stone Circle

Inside the eastern end of the circle is a rectangle of 10 stones which has been called the ‘sanctuary’, although nobody know what it actually was or used for.

Castlerigg Stone Circle

Castlerigg Stone Circle

It is hard to imagine that this ancient monument had already been standing for 3000 years when the Romans first arrived in Britain, and for 4000 years when the Vikings landed their longships on these shores.

Castlerigg Stone Circle

As well as being one of the most beautiful and beautifully set stone circles in Britain, it is also probably one of the most important. It is one of the oldest in Britain, and Europe for that matter, and it does not contain any formal burials like the later Bronze Age circles do. Therefore it’s true purpose remains unclear, but at the time it was erected it was certainly at the forefront of the minds of its builders.

Castlerigg Stone Circle

One could almost imagine being back there in ancient times when amongst this ring of standing stones within its natural surroundings. Just imagine the day after the last stones had been erected, how these people must have felt after such an achievement, how their plan and design had finally come into being through sheer will and hard work. And just imagine, even for just one single moment, what it would be like to step inside the mind of one of these ancient peoples to know what they knew, and to feel what they felt within their close connections to the earth and the heavens which helped sustained them, knowing what inspired them so to move earth and stone for future generations to ponder over and to marvel at.


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July 2018, Keswick, Cumbria, England. © Pete Hillman.

Meeting An Old Friend On The Shore

Derwentwater boulder

On my walk to Wall Crag I strolled along the shores of Derwentwater and came by an old friend I hadn’t seen for 18 years. We will just call him ‘The Boulder’. I don’t know why but he made an impression on me back then, and I was quite delighted when I came across him once again. Last time I visited the lake was curling around the base of him, which just shows how little rain there has been here in recent months. In the background we can see the distinctive spine of Catbells.

Derwentwater boulder

It is hard to tell from a photo, but this stone is fairly huge, and it kind of reminds me of one of those ancient and colossal stone-carved Olmec heads of Mesoamerica.

Derwentwater boulder

So to get an idea of scale yours truly has stepped into the frame. I suppose I should have taken my hat off.

Derwentwater

The views from this side of the lake are quite spectacular with the wooded slopes of Castle Crag in the centre. It is apparently the site of an old hill fort.

Derwentwater

And we have Catbells again with some folk relaxing around the shoreline. Onwards to Walla Crag, but you know all about that already 🙂


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July 2018, Derwentwater, Keswick, Cumbria, England. © Pete Hillman.

Walla Crag – The Descent

Clough Head

On the way down from the fell and passing by a traditional dry stone wall we see Clough Head on the right beyond rollling green pastures.

Keswick

I thought how lonely and lost those horses looked amidst the enormity of the landscape, and had to try to capture the moment. You may have to click and double-click to see them.

Borrowdale And Clough Head

Following the wall and a stoney path down the fell the vista opens up to the valley of Borrowdale where the Brockle Beck runs wild. (This all sounds kind of Lord of The Ringish, don’t you thnk?). I was so taken with the view before me which stretched out for miles and miles into the distance. Clough Head can still be seen on the right.

Borrowdale And Clough Head

A glimpse of the stone wall and the path we travel, and can you see how the clouds cast shadows on the fells? I am fascinated how the changing light can transform the landscape.

Blencathra

Looking across Borrowdale we see the Blencathra fells, which are the most northerly in the English Lakes. It is also called ‘Saddleback’, and you can see why. Again amorphous cloud shadows shift over the face of the land.

Rakefoot

The path takes us down the slopes towards Rakefoot. Shall we go through the gate? After you …

Latrigg And Skidaw

I had to take this shot just beyond the other side of the gate, leaning on an old dry stone wall, for besides the beauty of the scene, I was taken by all the different layers in the landscape, and the various shades of green. We see the mountain Skiddaw rise up before us like a humped behemoth, and the gentle wooded slopes of Latrigg.

Let’s keep on moving. Crossing the Brockle Beck, now on Chestnut Hill. Keswick is still 2 miles away, but it is still all downhill 🙂


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July 2018, Walla Crag, Keswick, Cumbria, England. © Pete Hillman.

Walla Crag – The Ascent

I had walked a fair way around Derwentwater before getting here on the start of our journey up Walla Crag. We begin at this rather quaint and charming stone bridge called Ashness Bridge. Barrow Beck which flows beneath its arch was but a trickle after almost two months with hardly any rainfall. This is an old packhorse bridge which is said to be one of the most photographed in the Lake District.

Skiddaw

A narrow, stoney path takes you up Walla Crag amidst lush green ferns despite the extreme dry weather. Soon the path steeply rises and magnificent views of Derwentwater and the mass of Skiddaw rising above Keswick can be seen. This panorama can suddenly take you by surprise and it does take your breath away.

Derwentwater

Climbing higher above the lake the vista opens up further, and beyond Derwentwater can be seen Bassenthwaite Lake and an open window into Scotland on a clear day. The two lakes have merged during past flooding.

Walla Crag

This ash tree offered some welcome shade from the baking heat of the day whilst I rested and had a spot of lunch. I couldn’t help but drink in the views.

Falcon Crag And Maiden Moor

Turning back we can just about see Ashness Bridge down below towards the left, and the magnificent splendor of Falcon Crag And Maiden Moor rising from the far shore of Derwentwater.

Skiddaw

Further on and levelling out, and not far from my sighting of the Dark Green Fritillary butterfly (see previous post), we once again see (not that we entirely lost sight of it) this mighty mountain range rise up above the landscape. Skiddaw is the sixth highest mountain in England and it is 931-metres (3,054 ft) to the summit.  It offers some of the finest views in all of the Lake District, and one that is definitely on my to do list in cooler climes in another year.


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July 2018, Walla Crag, Keswick, Cumbria, England. © Pete Hillman.

On The Shores of Derwentwater

Catbells

On a small stretch of the shore between the Keswick Launch and Friar’s Crag I stopped to take in the views. Above is the distinctive humps of Catbells, a name I remembered from 18 years ago, surprisingly for me. The fell rises from the western shore of the lake. The name is derived from ‘cat bield’ a place where wild cats shelter.

Catbells And Causey Pike

We have Catbells again on the left in the above and below images, showing the well-worn pathway up Skelgill Bank. On the right is Causey Pike leading out of frame, which dominates Newlands Valley where it is set. You can just see the summit ‘knobble’, even in the bottom image where Causey Pike is partly obscured by trees.

Catbells And Causey Pike

Below is looking along the lake towards the jaws of the beautifully named Borrowdale. We have Catbells again on the right and Castle Crag down the centre in the distance.

Castle Crag And Catbells

Gliding by near the water’s edge came a family of Greylag geese.

Greylag goose Anser anser and young

And set where it has come to lie some gnarled driftwood, like the bones of something long dead, cast near the shore’s edge.

Derwentwater drifwood

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July 2018, Keswick, Cumbria, England. © Pete Hillman.

Views From Friar’s Crag

Derwentwater

Friar’s Crag is a viewing promontory jutting out over the lake of Derwentwater which offers wonderful views of the surrounding fells towards Borrowdale. The top image is of Walla Crag, and will feature in a future post.

Derwentwater

There are four islands scattered about the lake, and of these two the one on the right is called St Herbert’s Island. It is believed the name of the promontory came about by monks who embarked from the point on pilgrimage to the island.

Derwentwater

A few yards from Friar’s Crag is a monument to John Ruskin, the artist and painter, who had very fond memories of the area which made a big impression on him. He described the view from here as one of the three most beautiful scenes in Europe. Castle Crag can be seen centre of the image below.

Derwentwater

The images were taken on an evening as the sun was gradually lowering, and the views and atmosphere of the place certainly made a lasting impression on me. I hope you get at least some sense of what I witnessed and experienced.


July 2018, Keswick, Cumbria, England. © Pete Hillman.

View From The Shore

Derwentwater

This is one of the views from across Derwentwater, a large body of water in the Lake District National Park, Cumbria. The last time I visited here was 18 years ago. I wonder why I left it so long when there is so much beauty here amidst nature.

July 2018, © Pete Hillman.