One year on – Remembering the Welland Valley

Summer's last gasp?
Today marks an anniversary for me, though not a celebratory one, for it is a year to the day that I bade farewell to Rockingham in my beloved Welland Valley. Saying goodbye to friends, my job and a woman that I still adore was one of most traumatic experiences of my life. Leaving was extremely painful, I was numb but knew that if I let the grass grow under my feet I would get stuck in a rut and fester in Peterborough, a town I had long since fallen out of love with. It took me four days from leaving my home in Rockingham to arriving in Snowdonia, alone, shell-shocked and disbelieving to begin a new chapter in my life.

For over a decade it had been an impossible dream for me to come and live in these mountains, but a year later, here I am with lots of wonderful new friends and a photography career going from strength to strength…I only wish I hadn’t had to follow this dream alone. It wasn’t meant to be like this, but nothing lasts forever and life sometimes moves in surprising and unpredictable ways.

So yes, today I have been thinking about people I may never see again and the place itself which, love it as I do, I’m not sure I could return to, the memories are excruciating and as vivid now as they were the day I left. Though it was my home for three amazing years, I suppose I just don’t belong there anymore. People move on with their lives; if only I could too.

I grew up in Peterborough, a city endowed with many superb green-spaces but I always envied those who lived in villages. When I got the opportunity to move to Rockingham I had to pinch myself. That move coincided with a burgeoning interest in landscape photography. I’d always carried a camera in the mountains but back in Peterborough there wasn’t that much to inspire me to develop my photography; in Rockingham, however, I quickly realised that although there were no mountains, there was beautiful landscapes in abundance, and the gateway to these places was my own back door.

I lost no time in exploring the surrounding countryside and as I didn’t then drive my explorations were on foot and soon I began to develop an intimate knowledge of the valley. In a rough triangle formed by the Langtons in the west, Harringworth in the east and north to Uppingham I walked countless miles acquainting myself with my ‘new’ home.

There was so much to discover; country roads led me through quaint villages, miles of public footpaths guided me to secret places hidden from view and the Jurassic Way had me eyeing a limestone escarpment which in turn, via remnants of the ancient Rockingham Forest, delivered me onto my favourite hill which I named ‘Livesey Pike’.

And then there was the man made contributions to the scene; the magnificent Welland Viaduct, Eyebrook Reservoir and the Rockingham Castle Estate, almost literally my back garden on which I regularly trespassed during the golden hours of dawn and dusk.

As my wanderings progressed and my photography improved it became clear while looking at other local photographer’s work that I had tapped into something they had missed. It took a while to figure it out but when I did it revealed to me the secret of landscape photography, the thing that magazines and online tutorials never tell you.

I worked in Corby, a tough ex steel-town which in recent years has started to find its feet after decades of degeneration. Every day, while walking home I would eagerly await a special moment, the moment when upon reaching the top of Rockingham Hill I would in front of me, see a vast panorama of the Welland Valley; Home. Without fail, that view (which haunts me still) filled me with joy, knowing that in ten minutes I would be down there with the love of my life and all thoughts of the bustling town I had left behind completely forgotten. The penny had dropped…I was taking memorable photographs of home because I profoundly loved the place. It spoke to me and I listened; I opened my heart to it, embraced it as my own and felt its pulse through the 12 seasons I was lucky enough to spend there. It is a wonderful and still largely undiscovered place which will remain sacred to me, if tainted, for the rest of my life. It is there that I learned the true meaning of love and the heartbreak that is the price we sometimes pay. It is also where I became a photographer and learned another lesson which, for landscape photographers is the most important of all…if you don’t love the landscape, move on until you find a landscape that moves you to that most beautiful of emotions.
Tracks

 

 

 

Welland Viaduct from Seaton

 

 

 

Decisions decisions

 

 

 

Beast

 

 

 

Rockingham Castle

 

 

 

Path

 

 

 

The Plantation

 

 

 

Thoughts of Hitchcock

 

 

 

Take me home

 

 

 

The Harringworth Poppies

 

 

 

Standing Alone

 

 

 

Stoke Dry, soon to become Stoke wet!

 

 

 

Logs

 

 

 

Christmas Floods - The Welland Viaduct

 

 

 

Bailey

 

 

 

Home Sweet Home

 

 

 

Rockingham Ice

 

 

 

Rush Hour in Rockngham

 

 

 

Rockingham Forest

 

 

 

Time to take cover - Explored

 

 

 

Winter Mist - In full colour!

 

 

 

A winter evening at The Castle

 

 

 

Rockingham Sunset

 

 

 

The forest floor

 

 

 

Rockingham Pony - Explored

 

 

 

Simplicity

 

 

 

A touch of frost

 

 

 

Early Autumn

 

 

 

Ynys bach

 

 

 

The Valley aglow

 

 

 

The Willows

 

 

 

Welland Valley Winter

 

 

 

The gathering storm

 

 

 

Nature's vast pallete

 

 

 

Morning breaks in the Welland Valley

 

 

 

Four of a kind

 

 

 

Light Trail - Rockingham Forest

 

 

 

After the rain

 

 

 

Harringworth Dawn

 

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~ by nicklivesey on May 6, 2014.

2 Responses to “One year on – Remembering the Welland Valley”

  1. Once again I’m blown away by these pictures and moved by your words. It feels so easy to connect with your experience. I can imagine a book. For now, thanks for sharing your story.

  2. Amazing pics Nick…and heartfelt words..nice to know more about he person behind the camera x

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