20120711_Coombe Abbey Photo Wander Walk
When : 11th July 2012
Who : Just Me and my camera + tripod
Where : Coombe Abbey Country Park (off the B4027), Warwickshire, England (near Coventry/Rugby)
Distance : Approx 2 miles (Distance = Not important for this diary)
Significant heights : None – Very gentle gradients
Summary : A gentle wander around the premier country park in the Coventry & Rugby area to take some photo’s in the evening sunshine and incoming stormy weather.
Maps : I didn’t need to use one for this gentle wander, but if you are interested :- The country park straddles two OS 1:25000 Outdoor leisure maps:- The car-park is on the western edge of sheet 222 Rugby & Daventry (GR. SP40,79). The majority of the lake-side/woodland path (Coombe Pool/Wrautum) is at the eastern side of sheet 221 Coventry and Warwick (GR. SP39,79) but if you’re not going beyond the park you really don’t need a map!
If you click on any photo’, it should launch as a larger image on my flickr photostream.
This is an unashamed excuse to show off some of my fave pic’s of 2012 under the guise of a Country Walk Diary Blog, but really it’s a Country Park Wander and even then I didn’t try to walk around the whole perimeter path alongside Coombe Pool and out through the woodlands of Little Wrautum.
It’s strange looking back [writing this diary in the middle of October], but if you’d asked me I’d have said the 11th would have been a Friday; but it was in fact a Wednesday. Why the confusion in my mind? (apart from early onset age related memory deterioration); Well I’d dropped my lovely talented cello playing daughter off at a C.Y.O. rehearsal – and these nearly always happen on a Friday – So looking back it’s a bit of an oddity why this was on a Wednesday … having said that it doesn’t matter one iota for this diary other to say I had a couple of hours to “kill”…. Oh and the reason, there was a big 50th Anniversary concert of The Coventry Youth Orchestra the following Sunday and the Wednesday rehearsal was an extra practice added in just before it.
Therefore, having a little time to myself, I decided to head out to Coombe Park to “play” at taking some photo’s. I was going to attempt to take my time over what I was doing – Normally on a country walk, I’ve got to see the image, compose, take and move on again in quite quick time, especially if I’m walking with someone else, but also as any country walk has some time pressures associated with it.
So, I was spoiling myself this time round …. I arrived at the car-park about 7:30 pm (after picking up a coffee at a local Macky-Ds en-route), paid my parking fee in the pay-and-display machine and moved off towards the large and rather incongruous (pretty ugly really) visitor centre building; but I veered off to the left into the long lines of conker trees forming one side of the impressive main entrance avenue. My idea was to try and get the tree trunks stacked up behind each other, but I think I really needed a longer lens to do exactly what I wanted – still I liked a couple of the images here, helped by the low sun, long shadows and angry looking clouds –enhancing the natural warm colours, high contrast and silver linings – it promised lots for the park proper – I was quite excited by the prospect !
Anyway, I returned to the carbuncle of the visitor centre (if I’m giving the impression that I don’t like it – well you’re right, I think it’s completely out of keeping with the landscape in both scale and architecture). I’ve digressed, I didn’t bother with any pic’s here instead walking straight past to pick up the main wide path down a gentle slope to reach a causeway. This separates the informal lake, known as Coombe Pool from the formal rectangular stretch of water leading up to the impressive facade of the Coombe Abbey Hotel.
This causeway is a relatively modern addition to the park, allowing access into the wooded parkland, however, in my childhood the Abbey building was semi-derelict and prior to the hotel taking it over, it was the main access into a fantastic playground area – it was always an exciting trip, crossing the stone bridge over the moat taking us into a different world. Even back then, the formal pool was always separated from the main lake by an ornate balustrade with shapely stone pillars and today this still borders one side of the “new” causeway.
The view from the causeway up to the Abbey Hotel is always impressive, but this evening it was quite stunning; I was so very fortunate in that the sun picked out the warm stone of the building and produced a fantastic reflection in the formal pool and even better a lone goose decided to swim into picture adding even more interest – Brill’, loved it. That memory will last in my mind for a very long time – I’ll probably never see it quite like this again!
Moving on, I had the choice of heading into the woods (over an arched footbridge, off to the left), up into the giant red-woods (straight on alongside the Smite Brook) or turning right alongside the formal pool and lawns up towards the Abbey. The more formal route won the vote and I was rewarded with some very nice photo-opportunities, including a small gaggle of geese, reflections, statues (I like the dual gryphon type characters) and highlights on the trees and shrubs both formally clipped and left to grow au-naturelle all backed by dark steely coloured storm clouds.
It got even better as I headed up onto the large lawn as a faint rainbow began to develop behind the sun lit house. Unfortunately it didn’t grow into anything more than a faint glow against the clouds but I really like my set of images of the building, the long shadows, stripes on the lawn and heavy contrasts creating images which I think have a degree of drama and movement even though everything was in fact physically very static. I’ll let you decide for yourself, but what-ever you think I like them!
Well that was the last I saw of the direct bright sunshine, as soon after, it started to drop behind the woods; this changed the light completely, everything became softer and flatter, so I changed tack and headed up into the redwoods for some experimentation pic’s – which turned out a tad disappointing, just ending up with one image I liked enough to keep; the heavily textured tree trunks one behind the other sort of mirroring what I’d tried to do with the conker trees when I first arrived. A little further on (near the old small boating pool, called Top Pool), I did meet a rather cute family of swans and the parent although a little wary seemed quite happy to lead the fluffy cygnets close enough for me to get some pic’s; maybe they’re a little clichéd, but hey, “cute” is a cliché in its own class, there must be a whole industry based around cute fluffy cuddly creatures! Unfortunately I had nothing to feed them as a thank-you, which I’m sure is what brought them up to me in the first place. I left happy that the adult bird hadn’t taken a dislike to me – Swans can be violent especially protecting their young.
After a brief flirtation with the woods bounding the large Wrautums Field, I returned to the main Coombe Pool, (crossing back to the causeway via the arched footbridge) where the light gave me a different looking couple of images and then it was back to the car to ensure I was on the way out before the gates were closed and trapped me in.
I thought that-was-that as I started the drive up the main access drive running through the middle of the conker tree avenue. As I did so, the sky suddenly changed colour, an almost eerie glow rapidly developed and a double rainbow emerged directly in front of me over Brandon woods. I quickly pulled in, grabbed my camera and managed to get a few pic’s looking along the 12-O’clock Ride (bridle track). Looking at the clouds, I was very fortunate not to have got wet during the evening; but the rain had held off and I reluctantly had to move off again thinking that was the end of my evening photo trip.
I was wrong though, by the time I’d reached the school where my daughter was rehearsing, the sky was lit up with a lovely fiery sunset – I especially like its reflection in a set of school windows, the glass distorting the colours in quite an attractive way. …. and then, all of a sudden, it was gone ! and night drew in …. What a stunning end to the day; a super evening alone with my Pentax K200D.
And the final word – The CYO anniversary concert was absolutely superb too.
Well, I hope you enjoyed my scribblings …. If you’d like to comment on my diary or any of my pic’s please feel welcome.