Even though I live virtually on the Peak District’s door step in Sheffield, I haven’t really gotten out there to photograph it much, not nearly as much as I would like to anyway. After some trawling of flickr I found what looked like a great location; beautiful woodland, a boulder laden river filled with cascades, and right next to a train stop. Perfect!
After a 5:30am rise (a time that usually doesn’t exist for students) and a bleary eyed train journey, I arrived at Grindleford train station and made my way to the National Trust’s Padley Gorge. The sun still firmly behind the horizon, the valley was cast in the cool shade of the rolling Derbyshire hills, but the location definitely looked promising. Picturesque rocky cascades scattered with autumn leaves and wrapped in blankets of moss, I quickly got out my tripod and started to familiarise myself with the surroundings.
As the sun started to rise higher behind the delicate layer of clouds, its soft light painted the valley a warmer orange and green. This was the light I was waiting for so I started moving along the river trying to spot some shots to take.
I wondered further up the river to try and find some clearer cleaner spots to take shots of. As much as autumn trees and woods are pretty, often they are just so busy and look a bit of a mess in photos! It’s a shame I wasn’t hear maybe a few weeks earlier when a few more leaves were hung on the trees rather than starting their decay into the ground. The valley sides seemed to get steeper, and I soon realised I was essentially traversing along mini muddy cliff edges and slippery rocks. While no Grand Canyon, a slip or trip wouldn’t have been great news for my DSLR or my skeleton, so I decided to follow the river back downstream a few meters and find some where to scramble above the river bank onto safer footing. Only here did I realise how nice the wood itself was, the ancient oaks seemed to twist against an invisible barrier not allowing them to stretch up higher, creating swirling patterns against the sky.
I soon went down to the river again, and now with my wellies on I started to wade around trying to get views of this frequently photographed spot that, maybe, some others wouldn’t have. I wondered up and down the river grabbing lots of shots of various rapids and water falls, often forgetting how high my wellies were, letting the river water overflow down to my feet. As well as a few more near slips on slimy rocks!
Time soon moved on as the sun started marching towards its peak and I had to start heading back to Sheffield. As I meandered my way back to Grindleford train station I snapped off a couple more shots of the woodland surrounding the gorge. It really is a nice spot this, definitely some where I intend to return to, maybe at a different time of year, or to concentrate a little more on the wood rather than the river. If anything this trip reminded me how much I love just getting out there (especially out of the city!), and forgetting about everything else in the world apart from the nature around me and the camera in my hands.