New Year’s Day already seems like a distant memory, but it will live on briefly in so far as it provided me with an opportunity for some varied photographic posts. U2 got it spectacularly wrong; there was no world in white (though some places had a slight dusting) and definitely no blood-red skies.
In truth I’d planned my journey to take place the previous day originally, but waking with a severe dose of man-flu I resorted to several stabs at the snooze button before turning the alarm off altogether and wallowing in sleep.
Everything changed the next day (wrong again Bono) and with the New Year came a new resolve so I was in North Yorkshire just as the sun was rising to shoot the waterfalls at Richmond. There had been some heavy rain the night before and the River Swale rewarded me for my early start.
If you’ve never been to Richmond, it’s the sort of place where patience rewards you. It has a huge market square (possibly England’s largest) though its impact is diminished by the fact that there’s a church smack in the centre of it. Wander away from the centre and you’re soon faced with the prospect of steep cobbled hills whose ascent you know you will have to tackle on your return journey. These cobbles and the local stone can make the place feel drab and a little unwelcoming, but there’s plenty of history to be had here, even beyond the great castle whose keep dominates the town (but whose gates were firmly closed to visitors at this time of year). The town, whose name derives from the French Richemont, was here long before the Normans built their castle and named it as a little piece of home, nearby excavations undertaken by Sir Mortimer Wheeler (unlikely hero of my schooldays) revealed a stronghold of the Brigantes which predated the Romans.
That drabness may of course have appealed to one of the town’s more famous visitors. John Wesley preached from the steps of a house in one of the smaller squares in 1774.
Now I have a confession to make here; several of these town shots weren’t taken on 1st January, but a few days earlier, which is why the sun is a little higher in the sky.
But back to my main objective. I’ve been here before, but without a tripod to give the stability required for shooting water had never done justice to the falls. Even now on New Year’s Day I was conscious of the other locations I wanted to see so was working relatively quickly (the cold spreading through my fingers being another powerful incentive). Nevertheless I think I found some variety, enough to warrant a pot of tea at the nearby station before continuing my quest.