Art Hike: A walk through history

I love being outdoors, it's one of my favourite things to do - there's really no substitute for a day spent tramping across open fields, walking amidst the trees and drinking in the views from the top of a just crested hill.

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Earlier this summer i joined 'art hike' for a creative stroll through history and an opportunity to combine my love of art, nature and history.

I would highly recommend you check out Art Hike if any of the above is of interest to you - it's an informal get together organised by my friends Robin & Adele. For this latest one apprx 20 people came out for this walk all creative minded folks with an interest in art and the outdoors - it was great to meet everyone and I'll definitely be going on further expeditions with them! For more details about Art Hike check out their fb page HERE

For this particular walk the group was led by local chap Adrian who has a passion for the pre-history of the area and shared his knowledge and thoughts with us on the neolithic peoples who once strode this landscape, and how even today we can catch a glimpse of their world - if we have eyes to see it.

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I too have a keen interest in this phase of human history - the landscape around Huddersfield is so rich with features that our ancient ancestors would've recognised and made use of that it's easy to get carried away imagining how they would've looked in times past, there are three topographical features which really stick out (literally) in the geography, history and phsychology of Huddersfield these are (most prominently) Castle Hill and (less well know but more mysterious) are the twin high points of Shooters nab and West nab - these three sites are quite clearly visible to/from one another. There is archeological evidence of neolithic occupation at all three sites - but our understanding of what our ancient forebears were up to is fairly limited.

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Castle Hill is a remarkable feature and it makes it's presence known on the landscape - it's history is ancient going back at least 4,000 years having at one time being a hill fort, enclosure and later a Norman castle - the pub that used to stand atop the hill was much missed (especially after a long walk) but the hill still plays host to a Victorian folly which is open to the public and I have some photos from that on another roll of film so we;ll see how that turns out! There's more info on Castle Hill to be found HERE. For me it's certainly been a much visited place but it was great to hear Adrians stories and get more details about how unique a feature it is and how unusual the hill fort is - i knew it was special but had no idea just how much!

 West Nab on the left and Shooters nab on the right - enclosing Meltham Moor in between

West Nab on the left and Shooters nab on the right - enclosing Meltham Moor in between

West Nab is a firm favourite place of mine to visit - a rocky outcrop with clear signs of human activity in the shape of carvings and bowls cut from the rock, the summit appears to consist of a collapsed ancient burial mound - so little is known about the site and the people's who left these reminders of their passing though, the aptly named shooters nab is not open to the public thanks to the shooting range from which it takes it's name.

The two nabs form a cradle shaped feature which is visible from pretty much anywhere in Huddersfield (although to my shame i was blind to it for many years) but once my interest was 'peaked' (groan) I couldn't take my eyes from it!

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Our route took us from the top of Castle Hill down to 'Deadmans Stone' and then up through the mills of Armitage Bridge and a woodland track into Mag Wood, here we walked on towards Netherron bank where I was amazed at how much visible evidence of prehistoric earthworks remain on the ground - albeit very slight traces and without Adrian's guidance I would have walked straight over them!

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We walked back through beautiful woodland and along the edge of famland and traces of more modern human activity...

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More recent stone structures abound, from wonky field boundaries to this half submerged stone circle of unknown date (probs about a week old)

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Walking back up to Castle Hill we bravely ventured through the tunnel off doom.....

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Emerging safe into the bright sunlight and a pleasant (but steep) hike up the hill

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A side of Castle Hill I hadn't seen before - open fields and scatterd tress across the lower slopes of the hill... This image of the tree is possibly my fav from the whole roll and a candidate for wet printing in the darkroom I think :)

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Returning at last to our point of origin :)
A wonderful summers day walking and talking with likeminded folks, I can't think of a better way to spend a sunny sunday afternoon! I shot these on my trusty Olympus OM2n with a 28mm lens and an orange filter which helps to accentuate the contrast and in bright conditions helps retain details in the clouds as you can see! The film was Rollei Retro 80S which is one of my favourite emulsions, smooth and contrasty - i developed this roll at home in Bellini Foto 'Eco Film Developer'

There are more photos from this walk waiting to emerge from their photochromatic slumber so stay tuned for more pictures in pt2!