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Ken Rowlatt 2
CREDIT: Ken Rowlatt

South Pennines Moorland Field Trip by Roger Styles

RPS Landscape Group Newsletter, March 2023

South Pennines Moorland Field Trip by Roger Styles


It was 3 years ago almost to the day that I led my first RPS Field Trip on this stretch of the South Pennine Moorland in 2019.  On that occasion the day began in thick mist and horizontal, driving rain which the brave participants endured for the first hour and a half, after which we enjoyed some fabulous, dramatic light.  A selection of images and the story of the day were published in the Landscape Group Newsletter of December 2019.  It could not have been such a terrible experience because Dave Glenn, the RPS Member-led Events Organiser, who was one of those brave participants in 2019, now, 3 years later, returned for a repeat adventure.  However, thankfully this time the weather began with blue skies and although interesting clouds formed steadily during the day, we remained comfortably dry.

I have regularly walked and photographed this stretch of Pennine moorland for several years, most often with a dog, and it takes an effort to see the rugged beauty of the landscape.  Part of the walk is on the Pennine Way, so I frequently meet those serious walkers, but it is very unusual for me to ever see another photographer.  I invited the participants to record their experience of the day in words as well as in images and so these make up the report of the day.

Andrew Williams LRPS had travelled from Frodsham in Cheshire, some 50 miles distant, and it was his first visit to the area.  Andrew later wrote “Initial impressions of this stretch of Pennine moorland do not look promising.  As is often the case you need to spend time wandering around before you 'tune in' to the landscape. However, as time goes on, you realise there is a wealth of interesting subjects to be captured; from wide vistas to intimate details.”

Granite outcrop above the moor © Andrew Williams

Rock and pools © Andrew Williams

Pylons and turbines © Andrew Williams


After an early start, Suzy Braye LRPS had driven for over 2 hours cross-country on A roads from Cumbria, wisely avoiding motorways, and afterwards wrote  “There was so much to love on this walk: mighty gritstone rock formations, early autumn grasses, industrial heritage, sunlight and textures, cloud drama, a poem about Rain by Simon Armitage carved on a huge stone, a roman road and a medieval way-marker; to say nothing of the wind turbines and pylons, and more pylons and even more pylons ….. We made the most of the features in the landscape – it was a fascinating day’s photography in great company and, at an 8-mile round trip, excellent exercise too!  I was interested to see how well my old 50mm prime lens performed, it was the first time I’d used it for around 10 years, but I’ll be taking it out with me more regularly now, given it seems to work well, and saves space and weight.”

Industrial Herritage © Suzy Braye

Simon Armitage’s poem - “Rain” © Suzy Braye

A medieval way marker © Suzy Braye


By comparison Ken Rowlatt LRPS lives locally in Rochdale and commented “This was my first RPS organised walk and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience.  It was good to spend time with a very friendly, like-minded group of enthusiastic photographers.  Although I live within a few miles of Blackstone Edge, I have never taken time to explore this area.  Roger’s local knowledge made me realise that I should take the opportunity of returning on a more regular basis.  Clearly, we should not dismiss the photographic opportunities that are available on our own doorsteps”.

Wind and rain erosion © Ken Rowlett

An ancient route © Ken Rowlett

A trig point © Ken Rowlett


Since the walk, Dave Glenn has been fully occupied moving house so he will be processing his images sometime later in 2023.  As Dave was using his 100-400mm telephoto lens throughout the day we shall be very interested to see the results.  I managed to sneak a shot of Dave at the end of the day at the highest point of the walk at the trig point on Blackstone Edge.  Perhaps Dave will pen an article about using such a telephoto in the landscape.

As for me, it was another thoroughly enjoyable day and one in which I learned from the different approach each participant took to photographing what has become my local patch of South Pennine Moorland.


Roger Styles


All images © as per their titles


Future RPS Landscape group events can be found here