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Tag Archives: Nathan Atkinson

  • Northumberland in Photographs by Nathan Atkinson

    After I had completed my first book, “County Durham in Photographs”, I was given the opportunity of working on a similar book for Northumberland. Neighbouring County Durham, Tyne and Wear and Scotland, it is a county rich in history and legend. Clearly the book would have to include famous landmarks such as Sycamore Gap, Holy Island, Bamburgh and Hadrian’s Wall. Like its sister work, I also wanted to include places less well known, so I started a bit of research to compile a list of spots to visit and then sorted them into various routes.

    Cateran Hole. (Northumberland in Photographs, Amberley Publishing)

    I admit that at times, I was disheartened when a full day of shooting didn’t pan out as expected. I took a drive to Riddlehamhope Hall. After completing a long walk in a freezing wind, I found it had been demolished. I also attempted several times, to take a specific shot of Warkworth Castle but the weather was never right.

    However, apart from those small hiccups, I came across some weird and wonderful places such as the Cateran Hole. Amidst a huge area of moorland there is a small grassed area with a set of steps down into a cave. There are many theories to its existence, but most believe it was used by smugglers. Hartburn Grotto was another amazing place, a cave surrounded by woodland modified by an 18th century Vicar as a changing area for bathing in a nearby river.

    I was keen to explore areas around the Cheviot and found a set of waterfalls known as the Three Sisters or the Hen Hole. I carefully planned my route and luckily got the weather spot on. Carrying a heavy bag of camera equipment, I started a gruelling slog through thick peat, nearly standing on an adder which had decided to bask on the footpath! Legend has it that the Hen Hole is home to a group of fairies who play the sweetest music ever known. Anyone lured remain trapped there. Thankfully there was no music playing when I visited.

    Three Sisters. (Northumberland in Photographs, Amberley Publishing)

    Another visit was to photograph Reiver Longhorn Beef’s herd in Hexham. These magnificent beasts possess huge curved horns and although look aggressive, were quite docile. I spent a good couple of hours amongst the herd who graze on traditional meadow pastures by the River Tyne. The villages of Ford & Etal are also a delight to visit. Home to the Joicey family, this estate offers plenty to do. Visit the corn mill or walk the Flodden battlefield or ride on the steam railway.

    One of my favourite locations are the Allendale flue chimneys which sit on the top of the moors. Historically these two chimneys were part of a long set of tunnels from a lead smelt mill. The idea of the tunnels was to maximum lead retrieval by regularly scraping the residues from the inside. I have visited many times and taken a huge variety of sunsets from that location. The place is stunning.

    To finish off, if you want to celebrate your next New Year with something a little different, I can recommend heading to Allendale for the Tar Barl. Forty-five local men carry whisky barrels filled with burning tar throughout the town before igniting the ceremonial bonfire. Definitely something you wouldn’t forget in a hurry.

    A big thank you to the local businesses who gave me permission to photograph their fantastic land.

    The book is dedicated to Damian Dixon who lost his life at Howick in January 2019. My thoughts are with his friends and family.

    Nathan Atkinson and Simon McCabe's book Northumberland in Photographs is available for purchase now.

  • County Durham in Photographs by Nathan Atkinson

    Quarry, near Bishopley. (County Durham in Photographs, Amberley Publishing)

    To some, County Durham conjures images of either Durham itself or small pit villages, but in reality, County Durham offers so much more. The huge variety of subjects and landscapes became apparent when planning what photographs to take for the book. In fact, I have lived in the North East all of my life and there were locations I had never been to! It’s worth mentioning that County Durham has had various boundary changes so an initial challenge with the book is where do I include? Do I go with current County Durham or historic County Durham and then from what year. I settled on ceremonial County Durham so this could take into account neighbouring areas such as Darlington, Stockton and Hartlepool.

    Prince of Wales under construction. (County Durham in Photographs, Amberley Publishing)

    The region has a rich history to be proud of, be it ship building, mining, railways or areas of outstanding beauty, we have it all and it was all of this I wanted to capture. I was eager to show off well known places and some of those less well-known. For example, the road between Teesdale and Weardale passes old mine workings where, in the centre, is a pond with a lone tree (Quarry near Bishopley). I haven’t seen many pictures of this place and happened upon it by looking at some aerial photographs. It’s an out-of-the-way location but brings with it so many viewpoints. I could have quite easily made a book just on this location alone.

    High Force, Teesdale. (County Durham in Photographs, Amberley Publishing)

    As mentioned above, railways have a strong link to this area and I had the pleasure of taking photographs of a new locomotive being built by the A1 Steam Locomotive Trust. Housed in a white-washed building opposite terraced streets, many wouldn’t realise there is a full sized locomotive being built within by a small number of hard workers. To see Prince of Wales up close took my breath away, the amount of effort that had already gone into the project is simply awesome.

    I have always had a love for the outdoors and I was eager to show off the landscapes in the county. Obviously it was necessary to include a picture of High Force. High Force is a waterfall you hear before you see it and can be enjoyed no matter the season or weather. I had to plan the angle of the sun with weather conditions to achieve the photo I wanted. As all landscape photographers will tell you, what the forecast says and what actually happens are too different things. On the morning this picture was taken, the sky was grey and uninspiring. I sat waiting getting gradually colder. I decided to go for a walk instead. After half an hour the clouds diminished resulting in me running all the way back laden with all my equipment to take the shot! Sometimes just getting one decent shot on an outing is pleasing.

    Nathan Atkinson's new book County Durham in Photographs is available for purchase now.

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