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Celebrating the bicentennial of Stoodley Pike monument

A gathering to celebrate the bicentennial of Stoodley Pike monument, on the highest part of Langfield Common, overlooking Todmorden. The original monument was inspired by the Treaty of Paris in 1814, and as such it (or at least the stone monument which now stands in its place) is listed as one of the oldest towers in the world dedicated to peace. You can view one of my previous panoramas from the monument, during the lighting of a beacon for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in 2012, here.

This celebration included music from Todmorden Community Brass Band and the Handmade Samba band; giant puppets from Thingumajig, and a mayoral speech. There was a great party atmosphere, and the weather was uncharacteristically sunny. The celebration was especially apposite for Anglo-French relations because, as well as the monument standing testament to almost two centuries of peace between Britain and France, the party included a gathering of visitors from Todmorden’s twin town, Ronq in France; and all this occurs in the same year as the world’s most famous cycle race comes to Yorkshire, with the Tour de France Grand Départ 2014. Vive l’entente cordiale!

The finale of the celebration was the release of two hundred homing pigeons from the parapet of the monument… this panorama captures the moment they flew away into the distance over the crowd.

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The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee beacon on Stoodley Pike near Todmorden

Click/tap the image above to view a panoramic 360° view of the scene in your browser. Select the icon on the beacon itself to toggle between a lit and unlit scene. Enjoy the view!

It’s been an especially long weekend in the UK, with two extra days holiday to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, and it seems as if most of the country’s taken it to heart as an excuse for an extended party. Me too, but the crowning glory for me was seeing our local Jubilee beacon lit at dusk on the hills above Todmorden.

I only found out by chance on the day that the nearest Jubilee beacon would be at Stoodley Pike, a favourite vantage point overlooking the Calder Valley. As I read the details a couple of hours before it was due to be lit, there was a slight drizzle outside, so I was unsure if I’d be rewarded with a spectacular view if I climbed up to the monument.

However by 8pm the evening sun was glorious – a perfect example of the photographer’s golden hour  – and I decided it’d be well worth a drive and climb to capture a couple of my 360° panoramas as the beacon was set alight. I’d already had a busy day in Todmorden, photographing the Pollination Parade, and thought it’d be perfect to round everything with a bit of exercise and a stunning view over the South Pennines.

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Sunset, snow… and the ‘Rude Stone’

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I only found out about this old stone cross last year when I was researching for another project. It stands on the hills between Todmorden and Cliviger, near the Lancashire/Yorkshire border. There’s some debate about how old Mount Cross actually is, with locals suggesting it may originally date from the 7th century, although other estimates date it from the 11th or 12th century. Either way, it’s the most ancient religious monument in the area, and may have stood weatherbeaten and resolute looking down the valley for close to a millenium. Pre-Schism, pre-enclosure, pre-industrial – there were still wild boar and wolves around back then – I imagine even in those days the silhouette of this priapic religious feature may’ve raised a smile or two, earning it the nickname of the ‘Rude Stone’.

Click or tap the image above to view a panoramic 360° view of the scene in your browser

Since shooting the video below (a short HDR timelapse of the sun setting here last year) I’ve harboured the desire to get back and capture a really stunning sky. One late Saturday afternoon, as the sun set quicker than the temperature, I grabbed a couple of DSLRs and set off up the hill. First I shot some bracketed stills, then, just as the sun dropped over the hills, captured this HDR 360° panorama.

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Stonehenge, between heavy rain showers

Stonehenge. One of the true wonders of the ancient world, and a jewel in the crown for English Heritage and the National Trust. Yet its continued existence seems more through good luck than planning: over the years it’s been damaged, pillaged, ignored, bypassed, and almost taken for granted. There’s a main road on either side of it, military bases surround it, and hundreds of thousands of people visit the site every year. There used to be a railway and an aerodrome next to it. When you consider all that, it’s surprising it’s lasted for so many millenia.

I was slightly underwhelmed by the scale of the the main ring of stones: don’t get me wrong, the stones are still pretty massive and imposing, but I always thought the area of the earthworks would be much wider than it actually was. It’s actually quite dinky.

This was the first time I’d been to Stonehenge, and it was a more fleeting visit than I’d intended as I dodged heavy rainstorms sweeping across Salisbury Plain. I’m happy I captured the site, although I’d love to have shot a pano from the centre of the main stone circle. However access is limited and genteel middle-aged anorak’d wardens ensure nobody breaches the barrier. Low-key but effective security… it’s all terribly British really.

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Click below for a fullscreen 360° view of the scene in Flash, or for more info in Google Earth and Wikipedia.

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Click below for a fullscreen 360° view of the scene in Flash, or for more info in Google Earth and Wikipedia.

Castle Hill, above Huddersfield

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Great view over Huddersfield from Castle Hill in the early evening light. The folly is Victoria Tower (more commonly known as Jubilee Tower).

Click below for a fullscreen 360° view of the scene in Flash, or for more info in Google Earth and Wikipedia.