When Hamish suggested a feature where people would post a full film, I thought I would take a photo a day on my daily walk through Healey Dell Nature Reserve. These shots were taken whilst in lockdown for the CoronaVirus and we were at that time allowed out for just one period of exercise per day. Driving was discouraged and so I realised how lucky I was to be living close to this beautiful woodland area. I started the project on April 1 2020, and I took the last photograph on 24th April.
I walk my dog, Rowdy, on most days here anyway, so it felt like a shot of normality in an increasingly strange world. The main path used to be the Rochdale to Bacup railway line which was one of the last to be built by the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway in 1867. The line was closed to passengers in 1949 and by 1952 a service of 2 coal trains per day travelled from Rochdale to the Facit yard. By 1967 the line was closed. Today it is home to parts of the National Cycle Network, the Rochdale Way and the Pennine Bridleway.
There are still the remains of a station at Broadley and some beautiful Victorian engineering in the shape of a 103 foot high, 8 arch viaduct. The viaduct spans the River Spodden which runs through a narrow gorge (called ‘The Thrutch’) forming a waterfall and pool. The rock formation here looks like a pulpit, reading desk and seats (allegedly) and is known as the Fairy Chapel, with local folklore telling of fairy and witch sightings.
Currently it’s spring and the Dell is home to swathes of wildflowers. The trees throw beautiful shadows which are hypnotising at times. I used my Olympus Trip 35 and Ilford HP5+ at box speed. Generally at this time of year, the skies can be rather grey and leaden, so I thought I would concentrate on bold shapes rather than go for a colour film. Of course, we had the sunniest April in a long time, so the skies were gorgeous.
There’s one day in the series where I didn’t walk. a migraine confined me to the sofa, so instead I pointed the camera at my walking companion enjoying his day off. And on the last day, I took a photo of my back yard where I’ve been spending so much time lately.
The shot of the three wooden sculptures is the last photograph I’ll be taking of them like this, as sadly a few days after I’d taken it, they were vandalised. The top hatted man has now been restored, sadly the two totems were beyond repair.
I’ve enjoyed this project, and I may do it again with a different camera and film, there’s a lot of the area still to shoot!
Thanks to Hamish for suggesting this, and to Duncan at Silverpan Labs for the processing and scanning.