Silence in the Woods

The woods at this stage of my walk round Lower Lliw Reservoir are not silent as you will hear in the sound clip below. However, with there being no wind, much of the background sound that is often there, is missing. This changes the acoustics of the woodland environment entirely and the soft plop of ice and snow dripping into the reservoir can be clearly heard along with the hollow reverberation of someone’s voice and the raucous call of a crow.

The scene was magical, not least because of the crooked wooden fence that lines the twisting footpath and the soft crunch of my footsteps in the snow.

ice droplet

Peaceful Background

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winter footpath

crooked fence

Well Laden

My winter walk round Lower Lliw Reservoir from a couple of years ago patterns I am not used to seeing. Snow always transforms the landscape but I am more used to seeing it as sheets or blankets of white on fields. More often than not it has melted off the branches of trees before I am in a place to appreciate it. That being the case, I was really  excited by the patterns and textures revealed in the woods surrounding the reservoir. I wonder when I will next see this scene?

The first photo can also be seen in Leanne Cole’s Photography blog post Monochrome Madness MM 2-48 – even though it’s not actually in monochrome!

winter branches

woodland snow scene

heavy snow

Sitting on the Fence

My walk around Lower Lliw Reservoir in the Lliw Valley north of Swansea was indeed an unusually snowy one. The snow sat on the fence and though it melted slightly throughout the day, not so much that there was any less than you see below at there end of my walk.

The sound clip below, from my field recording for the walk, reveals the unique sound of my (few) footsteps in the snow as it was at the time of starting the walk. Even though there was not an appreciable difference in the state of thaw at the end of the walk, I would be willing to bet that had i recorded my footsteps in the same place on the footpath a second time, it would have sounded different. It is surprising just how much difference the state of the snow makes to the sounds that it makes underfoot or indeed the surrounding environment.

snow on fence

Starting Out

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My Walk this Week – Winter Times Past

This week I am looking back at a production walk I have presented before, which means you may recognise the photos I post this week. I’m not simply reusing the posts I wrote back then, but using new words with the photos to describe my memories of the walk.

This Winter we have had no snow to speak of at all – the five minute dusting I ran into on top of Graig Fawr on last weeks walk was the sum total of the snow we have had in our immediate vicinity this year. So before we fully engage with Spring and while the temperatures are still low, I thought it would be timely to take a look at what I think of as a proper winter walk.

Lliw Lower Reservoir is a popular place for people visit for a few different walks, all of which, naturally, circumnavigate either the lower reservoir or extend to the upper reservoir. My walk this week took me round the lower one where the footpath is tarmac on the eastern side and then a muddy narrow track back down the western side. However, none of those surfaces can be seen on this walk as the snow and ice were lying thick from start to finish.

Lliw Lower Reservoir

Lliw Lower Reservoir

Closing the Gate and Reviewing the Week 60

My walk this week followed a track up a local hill, Graig Fawr. It is my intention to produce a StillWalks video from the photos and field recording I did on the walk. Below is a selection of images from this weeks posts about this walk as well as a short soundscape of some aural aspects of the walk.

To see all the photos and I have posted about this walk, you will need to look at the individual posts.

gate

Graig Fawr Soundscape

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Making Connections and Conversations

It could be said that the subject matter of the first two shots below is 1. the whin bush and 2. the grasses in the foreground. This would be a reasonable assumption as these items are in focus whilst the rest of the photo is not.

While this may be true, I think I would argue that if I was interested in taking photos of whin or grass, I could do a much more interesting job, perhaps looking at the sharp thorniness of the whin or the colours and patterns in the grasses.

However, the true subject matter is the story of my walk this week and the purpose of images like these within a sequence is to connect one aspect or stage of a walk with another. Having descended from the higher part of Graig Fawr, I am now approaching civilisation again and this can be seen by the blurred pattern of buildings at the foot of the hill. However, in my mind I am still with the natural landscape, the whin and the grasses and I am not yet ready to dive back into the everyday world of people and work.

A single elderly dog walker provides a gentle re-introduction to society with a brief conversation near the end of my walk about the weather – what else? Listen below.

Graig Fawr Walk-25

grass and trees

A Brief Conversation 

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Graig Fawr Walk-27

 

Observations On My Descent

The sun is back but it is not the only weather that is reflected on the back of this pony which is still wet from the recent snowfall.

Descending Graig Fawr on my return walk the rocks I photographed illustrate my new found knowledge of the geology of the area. Last week I posted photographs of rocks on Rhosilli Down at the end of the Gower Peninsula – and now I can post the photos below with a better understanding of why these show their strata pointing north, and those posted last week show theirs pointing south.

It all goes back 300 million years when the continents were getting squeezed . . . but if you want to know more I can recommend (again) the leaflets produced by Geraint Owen which are mostly available from local libraries or by visiting here and asking for them.

And if you are interested in knowing more still, I can recommend Jessica’s Nature Blog where she presents some wonderful photos and detailed information on the geology of areas of the Gower and Dorset.

pony

Closing Weather

My optimism for a bright day at the start of this hill walk up Graig Fawr meant I was taken by surprise when, as I arrived on the upper reaches of the hill, snow started falling behind me from the west.

I turned to see the clouds fast approaching and the whole atmosphere of the landscape changed. Fortunately it didn’t last long, but even so, I was reminded that this is what you have to watch out for in a landscape like this.

The Mawr uplands may not be very high or large in scale in comparison to many other places, but that does not mean you can’t get disorientated. However well I think I know the place, I would always treat it with respect. It was on a bright sunny day in Summer when I misread the landmarks up here. This didn’t cause a problem but it did mean that we took a different route to that intended.

My nearest landmark, in the form of the triangulation point, was in view through the snow and as it turned out, I only had to wait ten minutes for the sun to came out again and allow me to view the falling rain on the far side of Cwm Dulais.

snow cloud

Walking with the Larks

As I climbed the hillside track up Graig Fawr I met more than sheep – one man descending from an earlier morning walk than mine.

I was not quick enough to photograph the hare or the skylarks – at least not well enough for my satisfaction – but I was able to record the larks that were flitting after each other across the bracken and occasionally soaring into the sky.

I know I posted a field recording of skylarks on Rhosilli Down last week, but how can one tire of such a beautiful sound. They were there with the crows(?) as I walked along, but however familiar I am with their song, I still have to stop from time to time and just listen to them, ignoring everything else.  Just thinking about them makes me happy 🙂

rock and sheep

Walking with the Larks

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Icons of the Hill and some Pronunciation

Graig Fawr (pronounced Grige (with both “g”s hard) and Vower (as in power) and translates from the Welsh, more or less, as “big rock”)) . . . and before I forget, Happy St David’s Day from Wales 🙂

My walk up Graig Fawr soon brought me to a few things that seem to me to typify this particular area of my local uplands, the western edge of The Mawr (remember the “Fawr” pronunciation), the upland area north of Swansea.

One is the solitary tree and another is the bracken. There are large areas of bracken on the side of Graig Fawr and its companion hill, Cefn Drum (pronounced with a hard “C” and the “f” as a “v” and Drum is pronounced Drim). The colours and textures of the bracken are always there and now and then you will spot a single small tree growing out of its midst.

I have taken a number of photographs of these “icons” in different conditions and certainly the light is always different, but today the bracken had a particularly strong red tinge to its brown in some areas where it lay with the morning frost gradually thawing.

bare Graig Fawr tree

bracken

And then there was this water system manhole! I am not sure what the underground workings of this system are, but this access point with the slab of concrete and a glass jar laying on top of it and the concrete signage made me think of a grave with its headstone and the last flowers that were left in a jar, now disappeared.

Graig Fawr manhole