Yesterday saw some of the members of the Shropshire Community Flickr group attend the August meet at Quarry Bank Mill and Styal Village in Cheshire. This was probably the furthest I had travelled to attend one of these meets but having not attended the last couple I thought it about time that I actually went along, after all, I am one of the administrators of the group.
The property is a National Trust place and looks very impressive from the outside as you walk down the steps from the car park, this a view of the rear of the building with its many windows.
Being a National Trust property, photography is prohibited inside the building itself. To me this seems absolutely crazy as of the 16 people that attended there was at least half of us that decided not to go into any of the properties and instead stick to walking around the estate, this was free, so they missed out on a fair amount of entrance money by enforcing a silly rule about no photography. I’m convinced that with the plethora of photo sharing websites about these days, allowing photography inside would give them a much wider exposure, more paying customers and lots of free publicity, some may disagree?
The grounds themselves surrounded the property and ran along the River Bollin and included the Styal Estate and an old church. After we had decided that we were not going to pay to enter the property we asked at the reception if they had maps of the walks that we could take away as they informed us that they were not signposted…….maps were not available, hardly ideal. So off we set on our walk around the grounds using a map printed off by one of the members of the group.
Those that were interested in fungi and plants had a good time here as there were many sights to see and photograph, personally though that kind of ‘Natural History’ photography doesn’t really float my boat so my shutter count didn’t really go above two or three shots, none of which I have processed or posted. After a short break for lunch (packed) during which we were constantly harassed by wasps, six of us decided to have a walk in the opposite direction to which we originally set off. We walked all along the river until we hit a road and so decided to cross the river and follow a path back along the opposite side of the water. Unfortunately the signs quickly disappeared and after crossing over the grounds of a local rugby club we found what we thought was a path……..it had been walked on and that was good enough for us. It soon became clear that we had ventured a bit too far off the track and were soon attempting to navigate our way through shoulder high foliage, muddy streams, steep banks and fallen trees. This went on for around 45 minutes and in the humidity the sweat was certainly building up.
After a while we managed to be in a position where we could see the path that we needed to be on……..on the opposite side of the river. We had a choice, walk over a field which would have meant climbing over an electric fence, retracing our steps (no chance of this as there were more men than women and you know what men are like for turning back…….it just doesn’t happen!) or, making our way over a tree which had fallen over the river. Unfortunately the tree and river were at the bottom of a steep, maybe 50 degree, bank but we decided after much protestation from the ladies in the group, that this would be the best way forward. So, sliding down the bank toward the roots of the fallen tree presented the first problem, the second problem was the gap in between the bank and the tree itself which required a small but brave jump, the third problem was the seemingly high instance of balance problems and height fear amongst the group. Combine this with a tree trunk that had loose bark, the value of camera equipment that needed to be carried across and of course the watery end that would meet any small slip and you end up with a situation that is both hilarious and slightly concerning. As it happened, three of the group managed to get across without incident, simply walking across the log and emerging through the undergrowth on the other side unscathed. The other three fared slightly less well, deciding that walking across was just too difficult and electing to straddle the thick trunk and shuffling their way across on their backsides, all very well until the trunk split into two and various acrobatic moves were required traverse the water without getting wet. Of course the people that managed to get across first spent all their efforts encouraging the rest of the group across by way of creasing over in fits of laughter and photographing the unfortunate positions they got themselves into. Of course, I was one of the ‘walk over it and take no notice’ people and in a completely selfless act, spent more time on the trunk helping others across, trying not to fall off from the laughter!
All safely over we decided that enough was enough and made our way back to the car park after a swift refreshment break and proceeded to sit in traffic for over an hour on the way home. Still, a quick visit to a local pub just before dropping others off seemed to be the perfect end to a very enjoyable and memorable day.
The next Shropshire Community Flickr meet is at the hill climb at Loton Park, hopefully that will be as enjoyable but with less chance of injury!