To Bronty Bridge and Beyond


Looking Back Along the Bronty Way

The whole point of this walk apart from the exercise and pleasant surroundings, was to collect some material for painting Bronty Bridge and perhaps the old ruins at Top Withens together with anything else that looked like it might make a painting. The trees round about looked promising and there were some nice farms as well. We started off from Penistone Hill just after 10.30. It was a lovely January day but there was a bitter cold westerly wind. I believe, according to the weather forecasters, that it was due to that polar vortex that was freezing North America and the jet stream was sharing a bit of it with us. It was so cold I had to wear three layers of gloves to get my hands warm after putting my boots on!! Also well togged up with wind-proof clothing and such we were well equipped to cope with anything.


Bronty Bridge

The walk took us across Haworth moor and along the Bronty Way, a pleasant walk, down to Bronty Bridge. Well that is when disappointment struck, instead of what should have been a very old rustic stone bridge, there appeared spanning the brook something that I had not expected to see – a quite modern looking bridge. On closer inspection it turned out that the original rustic bridge had been washed away in a flash flood and this was the repaired version. I think we can make it a little more rustic if we paint a picture of it but it will never be the same as the old structure. On the whole I suspect the whole place would look more cheerful in the summer when lit by the sun as not a lot of light managed to find its way into the steep sided valley, which encloses the brook, seeing as it was January.


Delf Hill – With Top Withens in the top left and the Cuckoo Stone around about the centre of the mid ground

Well moving on we climbed out of the gloom into the sun on the north side of South Dean Beck and headed off towards the ruins at Far Withens. (this structure can be seen top left of the photo with a tree sticking out the back) As the footpath begins to drop back down towards South Dean Beck you pass a standing stone to the right. this is one of the Cuckoo Stones reputed to be the petrified remains of a local giant that terrified the locals with his robbing and such. He got his comeuppance and was killed but turned himself into stone before he finally pegged it and before they could chop off his head. Now this was a crafty trick as he could also turn himself back when he had recovered from his wounds if he wished but not without his head. So they chopped off the top of the stone. Now the really weird thing is that both of the Cuckoo stones have had their tops chopped off at sometime so it seems no one was sure which one was the giant. It is very interesting when myth can be witnessed in a physical form re the damage to the stones.


Moonrise over Haworth Moor

From the Cuckoo stones the path continues to drop before it rises again up the slopes of Delf Hill and finally to Top Withens. Some nice stones here abouts and the return was made back down the Pennine way which is paved for quite a bit of the way across the moors. Got some good photos of winter trees as well. The Grouse were quite amazing too as apart from the normal grouse noises, which I am used to, they were also making quacking noises like a duck (honest!) I suspect this was part of their mating call but need to investigate further (investigated further and just think it is normal). We returned then back by Bronty Bridge and back down the Bronty Way where the evening light was just sublime with an amazing moonrise over Haworth Moor.


Looking Back

The closing photograph shows a view back over the walk from the side of the Bronty Way. The evening light shows the amazing qualities that English artists have valued for years, which is the milkiness of the setting as though a thin coat of white had been layered across the scene. Well time to go and here is where I will leave you as I head back towards the car and home.

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Attempting to Capture Yr Wyddfa

Sketching Snowdon on the South Eastern Bank of Llyn LlydawSketching Snowdon on the South Eastern Bank of Llyn Llydaw

Sketching Snowdon on the South Eastern Bank of Llyn Llydaw

Looking at my blog (over six months without posting anything – now that’s quite shameful) it’s about time I put my paintbrush down and returned to the keyboard and attempt to write something that might inspire someone to go out and find something to paint. What better to write about than one of my recent excursion to Wales.

Wales is an inspirational place for the artist especially one that enjoys painting seascapes/waterscapes and mountains (and they won at rugby on Saturday against Ireland). This excursion took place in November of last year with the intention of bringing back material for my painting classes. I brought back masses of it that cover a host of subjects but mainly maritime and mountain landscapes. Mixed in with this was some amazing material for line and wash paintings of buildings and bridges in some very picturesque settings.

The picture above (taken by my wife) shows me sketching on the shore of Llyn Llydaw, I am quite close to the ford in Cwm Dyli on the south-eastern bank of the lake. It was Wednesday the sixteenth of November about 10ish. I had my eye on the weather all week in an attempt to get a photo and some sketches of Snowdon. I have some from previous trips but you can never have enough.

Despite it being a gloriously week (very unlike November) the summit had been shrouded in clouds most of the time. Well all of the time I had seen it! The good thing is that the car park on the A498, above the Afon Glaslyn, provides an amazing view of Snowdon without any effort. It’s therefore an easy task to check out the condition of the summit before committing to the £10 car parking fee at Pen-y-pass.

On the Wednesday morning the day being sunny, cold and windy with no cloud on Moel Siabod (visible from the kitchen window) it did appear to be the best day to get a sketch and a photo of Snowdon. Time was running out and the spell of good weather was not looking like it would last the week out. Today I was so confident I did not even check the view from the A498!

The approach up the miners track was heavenly as, despite a number of cars in the car park, the masses were heading for Crib Goch or the Pyg Track. The sun was shining and the clouds that were sitting around the slopes were fluffy and white. Clogwyn Pen Llechen and the Teyrn Slab that you see on the approach looked like the haunt of Pterodactylus in the early morning light. And there was not a soul about to spoil the tranquillity of the moment.

Here be Pterodactylus – Clogwen Pen Llechen and the Teryn Slab – With Lliwedd in cloudHere be Pterodactylus – Clogwen Pen Llechen and the Teryn Slab – With Lliwedd in cloud

Here be Pterodactylus - Clogwen Pen Llechen and the Teryn Slab - With Lliwedd in cloud

But O Woe Is Me! When we got around the corner there was Snowdon totally covered in cloud as well as Y Lliwedd and Crib Goch. Undeterred I opted to do a bit of sketching by the lake as the place was quite atmospheric (and quiet – still no one around).

After a short time spent by the lake we headed off up the path to Lliwedd, and still we had not seen anyone except from a distance. It appeared no one was interested in Lliwedd that day. But the views across Llyn Llydaw of Crib Goch, especially from higher up, was spectacular due to the morning light.

A small diversion is perhaps worthwhile at this point in my story. I have climbed extensively in my life and like to think that I enjoyed the scenery. I must say, however, that it is only since I have painted have I truly seen the places that I visit. Sketching makes you stop and see your surroundings. Even when it is bitter cold you hold out and grab a quick sketch. It is part of the learning process of becoming an artist – you observe your surroundings. If you do not see you cannot paint it! One of the many magic statements I hear from people who paint with me is “do you know I cannot go outside now without looking at the sky and all its colours” – then you know that they have found one of the many crimson threads that lead you on to be a better artist. You do not need to be an artist to see. So next time you are out walking stop, look around, ponder what’s in front of you but even better look back at where you have come from – but now back to Wales.

Just keeping below the clouds we stopped for lunch at a suitable picnic boulder and there we watched the clouds blowing along the ridge of Lliwedd where they either built up againstSnowdon’s summit slopes or blew along the edge of Crib Goch to disappear in the direction of Pen-y-pass. Very atmospheric scenery again but hope against hope I thought the clouds might just be clearing! The light by now had gone – the best time for a photo of Snowdon is around 10 – 11 in the morning before the light gets behind it. Well beggars cannot be choosers and the clouds did lift eventually – its quite entertaining doing a “can you see it” as the last wisps of cloud cling to the summit tip (despite nearly freezing to death – the week got colder despite staying sunny – my mars bar was like a brick – next time I will carry it inside my jacket).

The cloud stopped away for the rest of the afternoon. I had got some amazing photos of Crib Goch earlier in the day (cloudless) and the photos of Snowdon were able to be enhanced to bring out a bit more definition prior to getting them printed. So all in all it was a good day that ended with a good meal and good company.

Snowdon in the CloudsSnowdon in the Clouds

Snowdon in the Clouds

The original painting of Snowdon, done on new years eve, was inspired by my sketches and photographs of Snowdon taken that November day. The painting has been altered by adding snow and it was given a dramatic cloud effect, all artistic licence. The first one was painted for my mothering law who wanted the colours to match a wall! It now hangs in the South of France. The painting shown here was a second painting done on New Years Day as I liked the style of the first one. This painting now forms one of the subjects for my painting classes. For the doubters who think the colours are wrong I will add this – they are not the colours of the day in question BUT they are the colours of the clouds I once witnessed one November afternoon (about 1995 ish) that boiled around below us in the corries on the northern slopes of the Aonach Eagach ridge – Honest – ask my father in law – we both watched with our mouths open till it went quite dark and we then descended from our lofty plateau in the snow using our head torches. But that is another story. M

Macleods Maidens

David Collecting Pixie Dust!

Macleods Maidens lie just west of Idrigill Point on the North West coast of Skye.  As I said in my last notes I needed to paint a picture of our third day spent walking on Skye.  Well it is finished and is a painting featuring the Maidens.  In the attached photo you can just see David collecting Pixie dust and stuffing it in his rucksack (he’s getting his flask and sandwiches out really – it was lunchtime).  It had been a reasonable walk to get to the Maidens, about 12 miles, especially after the evenings celebrations at our hotel.  They had been so good that David could not eat his breakfast sausages so I had to eat them for him. My father-in-law does, however, say I can probably suck worms because he once saw me eat a big plate of sausages at 3.00am in the morning on a very rough channel crossing while everyone else was turning quite green.

The Crux of the Dartboard Traverse, Carbost

But less of sausages and back to walking.

The walk was through some amazing scenery with the culmination being the three sea stacks called Macleod’s Maidens.  The largest one, not seen in the photo, is known as the mother with the smaller two being the daughters. To see the big one you will have to see my painting of the Maidens that is hanging in Reboot bookshop in Accrington (see my website for details) or take a trip to Skye.  The coastline here is a wild place with its basalt cliffs containing caves, arches and some impressive waterfalls plummeting into the sea. Well worth a visit and well worthy of some more paintings.


P.S. – this was 16 years ago so I doubt you can still traverse the dartboard as part of your post breakfast training for those excellent Skye climbs

Skye – Where it all started.

Basteir's Tooth 

Well this is where the painting all started – Skye – about sixteen years ago on a walking/climbing trip with my good friend David. It is still affecting my painting right up to today. Why? You may ask. Well my latest exhibition at Whalley Library that’s showing this month (see the news pages on my website – is influenced quite a bit by my paintings of Skye. 

The exhibition has three Skye paintings. Two of them are traditional watercolours, the first, Black Cuillin from Sligachan, which is a watercolour painted in a long thin panoramic format was the start of the first day’s walk up onto the Black Cuillin ridge to the Basteir’s tooth seen in the picture. The second traditional watercolour is of The Needle found on the Trotternish Peninsula, which was seen on our second day of walking. It’s the third picture that has resulted in some divergence from traditional landscapes and is responsible for some of my more abstract landscapes. You see Basteir’s Tooth, Black Cuillin, is a line and wash picture that was drawn to show all the different shapes of the slabs that make up the monolith. The result was something that looked like a landscape but also had a touch of cubism thrown in there, by accident none the less.

The Basteir’s Tooth painting has been admired by some and hated by others (always a good sign) but its style got me thinking (sometimes a bad sign) about what else I could do with this method of using line to depict different angles of rock slabs. The first result was Mystery Buttress, Widdop Moor – an exaggerated line and wash that has produced a painting with many hidden faces. The next step was to try something out in acrylic using a solid line and two differing colour temperatures to delineate the background from the foreground. The result was Napsicus, so called because it is drawn from Napes Needle but looks like a robot out of Transformers. The last one to mention is Hornicus which was painted in a reverse way to Napsicus, that is the warm colour forms the background while the cold colours form the rock so compressing the painting. Its name comes from the fact it is based on the Matterhorn but does not use the bold lines of the previous painting, relying on the different directions of brush strokes to produce planar divisions.

But let’s return to Skye rather than the twisted world of abstract. Skye, that inspired me to pick up a paint brush and get formal painting lessons. Skye, that still inspires the paint brush and looking through my photographs has now inspired me to paint a new picture of the island’s wonderful landscape. Why? Well you see in writing these notes I have realised that only the first two days of walking are represented by my paintings, the third is missing a suitable painting. So I’m off to pick up my paintbrush and remedy the situation. With a bit of luck it will be on display in Rebound, a bookshop on Broadway, Accrington, by the end of the week together with some of my other paintings. Also watch out for it later this year at Nursery End.


Painting Like Klee?

Desert sfw

“Desert” – A picture based on some designs obtained from Deer Stones – Pendle Hill

This is not about visiting anywhere physical but in a way is still visiting somewhere. This might sound a bit strange but becomes clearer when you look at the accompanying picture. This afternoon I have been delving into abstracts.

 This is my first blog post and I could have written about any of a number of nice places visited recently but today its been abstracts. Why you may ask? Well I have a workshop running in Blackburn on the 27th of April and need some material for people to see (details are on the news pages of my website – I also wanted to try out some techniques and some different papers as I want to paint on mountboard and I have just got some very interesting laid paper. Klee often used a brown/fawn background and these papers nicely reproduce that effect especially when using gouache.

 Klee used a line as a plane division to great effect while also using changes in colour to produce an additional plane division. All good stuff but requires some playing around with. Combine all this with some images from Egyptian artefacts that I have gathered from my trips as well as some local stuff (new age symbols from the 70s) photographed and sketched at Deer Stones (on the side of Pendle Hill) last week and we have a real mix going on. Well several pictures later and I was pleased with my afternoon’s work even if it looks like the product of a disturbed mind!

  I will write about nice places next time – promise


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