Slow Cotswolds

  • In search of somewhere

    Twelve months or so ago I received an email from a reader of Slow Travel:The Cotswolds. They had purchased a copy of the book in anticipation of a visit to the Cotswolds later in 2017 and, as a photographer creating a new gallery, was looking for particularly photogenic locations. That reader, Andrew Bergh, happened to be living on the west coast of the United States of America. Andrew had visited the Cotswolds eight years previously and was now plotting out his latest Cotswold holiday one sunrise and sunset at a time.

    I obliged with a few choice locations that I deemed would be suitable and then I received this:

    "Caroline, this may be a long shot - but nothing ventured, nothing gained.

    When I took the attached photo, all I had was a little point-and-shoot camera. I would love to revisit this place [with my professional camera], the conditions at the time were magical. As I recall, I was in my rental car and I was somewhere between the Slaughters and Stow-on-the-Wold. While I appreciate how you don't have the entire Cotswolds memorised, I am wondering if there are enough landmarks in this image for you to recognise it. The road was slightly off the beaten path and I want to say it was long and straight as opposed to curvy or windy.."

    Now, I like a challenge and, wild geese or otherwise, I was determined to find the view provided by the image. I had initial inklings as to the location although nothing specific but I set about my detective work. Sure, there are well-known views of the Cotswolds but, at 787 square miles, it's a big area to cover when looking for one so specific! And this was June, with high hedges, trees full of leaf when Andrew's image offered skeletal branches. Plus, trees grow, hedges are grubbed out and there was the possibility of additional landmarks like new dwellings, barns or masts that may have sprung up in the eight year interval that could prove unhelpful.

    Andrew was able to provide a few further clues - time taken between images before and after narrowed the possibilities down significantly and the vague recollection of a major road nearby. Then he provided a second image taken minutes later. Though wide-angled, if I zoomed in I could spot landmarks I was expecting to see based upon my initial inklings - the mast on the top of Wyck Beacon. A hidden signpost for a public footpath also offered up bountiful treasure.

    With the aid of an Ordnance Survey map and a gorgeous late spring walk along a quiet country lane close to the Slaughters (pages 140-1), I found my somewhere! And, in a slightly surreal moment, but for the Cow Parsley that wavered beside the Cotswold stone wall, I could stand in the very same spot that Andrew had taken his photograph eight years earlier. Some views, thankfully, don't change.

    Andrew was delighted by the to-the-yard result and responded, "If you could only arrange for similar clouds during my stay, that would be wonderful." As it turned out, despite the cloudless-skied image I sent to prove my prowess as a viewfinder, I believe clouds were ever-present on Andrew's Cotswold holiday latterly. Such is the talk of weather. But he sent me a couple of his images following his visit - and I recommend a peek at his new website and gallery, launched earlier this year.

    Andrew's photographs are something special. He describes himself as a fine art digital photographer and there's no doubt that many of his images look like paintings. One of his favourite techniques is High Dynamic Range imaging (HDR) whereby merging multiple images of the same subject matter, taken at different exposures, creates exceptional detail. Should you be passing by - several thousand miles from the Cotswolds - Andrew's new gallery is on Bainbridge Island near Seattle, on the west coast of America. His new website - https://berghimages.com/ - is 'work in progress' with images of the Cotswolds being added regularly.

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