Roach End barn

Where would we be without the internet? In my case, I wouldn’t have been standing here watching a beautiful sunset in the middle of the Peak District. I had never been to this area before, but seeing as my husband agreed to look after the zoo for a second year running, I wanted to do something different. This time I researched the area thoroughly. I watched hours of video on You Tube, trawled through numerous photography web sites and even searched one of those photo sharing communities. What was it called again? (See my first post – Cheers Flickr!)

I even used a wonderful little programme called “The Photographer’s Ephemeris”. According to the web site (TPE) it “helps you plan outdoor photography shoots in natural light, particularly landscape and urban scenes. It’s a map-centric sun and moon calculator: see how the light will fall on the land, day or night, for any location on earth. TPE for Desktop is the original – and free – version of the program and is the premier outdoor photography planning tool used by thousands of photographers, amateur and professional, around the world.”

Of course, you can take things even further, as I did in Somerset the previous year and combine your new-found knowledge of the position of the sunset, with the local tide tables. Yes… if you want to take reasonable landscapes, then you have to work at it.

But back to this particular sunset in early September 2012. I had already found a few photographs of this old barn. It doesn’t seem to have an official name, but it is located at the far end of The Roaches and having “flown” over using Google Earth, I knew exactly where it was. If I spent the afternoon near Hen Cloud, then I could get back to the car with less than an hour to spare and head on, over the cattle grid and on to the single track road. I knew where to park and then it was a short walk up the slope. When I reached the dry stone wall on the right, I needed to leave the path and make my way through the dense heather. So there I was and everything looked just as I expected. I was now at the point where the wall made a sharp left hand turn. I put my rucksack and tripod down and peered over the top… to see a rectangular pile of rubble! This couldn’t be happening. The barn looked rather dilapidated in the images I had seen, but recent reports were that it had survived the winter and was still pretty solid. I was gutted. All I could do was survey the scene and wonder if there was any way I could make something out of this mess. Then it started to dawn on me that the rubble was facing the other way. It was the wrong barn!

That was the good news, but my next thought was that I was standing in thick undergrowth, with less than half an hour to sunset and I had no idea where to find the right barn. Close to panic, I stumbled back to the path and followed the wall to where it climbed up from the direction of the road. Plunging into the undergrowth again, I kept heading downhill in the hope of getting a better view. Then all of a sudden I spotted it. By this time the heather had gone, to be replaced by bracken and I was up to my waist. It got even more dense, but that was probably in my favour, as it cushioned my frantic descent.

Eventually I made it to yet another dry stone wall, but this time the view was as I had imagined and I still had enough time to set up my tripod and take a few test shots. The featured image at the top was the one I had been waiting for and as the sun moved behind the cloud for the last time, I started to pack up. I had already learned a valuable lesson on this trip and that was to be back at the car before it got dark. I had a small torch in my rucksack, but I had no idea how difficult it was going to be. I decided to follow the wall in the hope it would be the most direct route, so head down, I set off. It was then that I knew I had to have one last look at that beautiful old barn and I turned back… to see that the sky had gone berserk. I had no time to set everything up again, but the camera was hauled out one more time. The image below was hand-held in less than ideal conditions, but this time I got lucky…

Sky on Fire

2 thoughts on “Roach End barn

  1. Amazing photography and an exciting story that has such a wonderful flow. The superb final image has so much telling, and it reminded me the following by Minor White. “No matter how slow the film, Spirit always stands still long enough for the photographer it has chosen.”

    Your artistic talents as a fine art photographer and a natural writer both have a delicate balance and deep sensitivity. Thank you for sharing and making this world more beautiful.


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