Yesterday seven of us from Tetbury Camera Club made an expedition across the Bristol Channel to Wales; to the Llangattock Escarpment in Powys to be more precise. This was a follow on from a recce that a few of us had made a couple of weeks previously to check out the lay of the land and timings for the planned day out. It was a cold day, hats, gloves, thermals, and hot coffee all needed to keep us going.
The Llangattock Escarpment is a long escarpment south of the Usk Valley, overlooking Crickhowell. The location is an old “industrial” area of quarries and spoil heaps that have long been handed back to nature and which provides an interesting landscape to photograph. There are a few remnant signs of the industrial works (see picture left) which add a bit of further interest. The light wasn’t quite as kind as it had been on the recce trip but even so it was a good morning on the hills.
We then headed on to the Big Pit National Coal Museum in Blaenavon where we had lunch. It was a working coal mine from 1880 to 1980 and was opened to the public in 1983; it is now part of the Blaenavon Industrial Landscape, a World Heritage Site. There are many interesting things to photograph here. Various pieces of old equipment are scattered about the site, including an old mining locomotive, various assorted rusty mining kit as well as railway trucks and locomotives.
The old workshop is fascinating with plenty of old rusty tools, anvils, machinery and other bits and bobs, though if you stay too long you will get worn out by the recorded commentary and will remember at exactly the right moment that you must puncture the lid on your tin of beans before putting it on the smithy’s fire to heat up, if you want to avoid an explosion! You can, of course, go down the mine; we didn’t though the coach loads of school children packed the waiting room for this attraction – yes, it’s a popular kids’ destination but that didn’t cause too much trouble as most of the time the photographers and the kids had different interests.
After a couple of hours at the Big Pit, we headed across the other side of the valley to the Blaenavon Iron-Works, which is also part of the Blaenavon World Heritage Site. Here is what was for a while the largest iron works in Europe – hard to imagine. Many of the buildings are still standing in various levels of decay. One of the most interesting aspects of this site was the works cottages which have been restored and are furnished in different periods covering roughly a century between the mid 1800s to the mid 1900s. These provide a wealth of photographic opportunities for still life and tableaux.
The final stop was at the Hanbury Arms pub next to the River Usk in Caerleon for our supper and a thaw-out, before heading home.