The Cotswold Way - 2nd time around

20th July 2017
On 28th May 2009 I set out on my first long term photography project. I hiked The Cotswold Way fully in both directions (just over 200 miles) taking landscape photographs in black and white with my large format (5"x4") film camera. I made blog entries with photographs for each day that I hiked and produced a hardback book of the best of my photographs.

I followed that with another significant photo hiking project on The Thames Path, also in both directions (almost 400miles), and with blog entries for each day hiked and a hardback book to complete the project. The Thames Path was my first project with wholly digital capture. Forgetting for a moment the great advances made in digital photography, I was just relieved to be carrying far less weight than with my large format camera and all of the additional kit that it required. My knees and back welcomed the much lighter load.

The "both ways" of these two projects was not continuous hiking all the way out then all the way back. I achieved this by hiking on one day every week or two. I'd drive to where I completed my previous day out, hike onwards for half the day, then turn around and hike back to my car. My next hike repeated the pattern. On the face of it this might seem repetitive and boring, but for my photography it was priceless. Returning over the same ground was always in different light, the weather had often changed, the same 'things' were approached from the opposite direction and, perhaps more importantly, my mood or frame of mind had often evolved from the earlier part of the hike. All of this makes for finding new photographs as well as for different interpretations of earlier work.

On 1st January 2016 I started my third substantial photo hiking project, this time much nearer to home (so, much less driving). I photo hiked on Bredon Hill, the centre of which is about 6 miles from my home near Evesham. My aim, which I (almost) achieved, was to photograph on Bredon Hill once a week on average throughout 2016, in all seasons, all weathers and all times of the day as I became progressively more familiar with the hill and its 50 miles of public, permissive and concessionary footpaths. The exceptions were that I avoided torrential rain, that I didn't do any night photography (although I was out well before many sunrises and well after many sunsets), and, though I desperately wanted snow not a single flake fell on Bredon Hill on any of 2016's 366 days. So no snowy Bredon Hill photographs. I was invited to hold an exhibition in June 2017 of my "On Bredon Hill ~ 2016" photographs in Ashton under Hill, one of the several delightful villages that surround Bredon Hill, and I have now produced a hardback photo book of the project.

I've often thought that one day I would like to reprise my Cotswold Way photo hike, and that is what I am now about to embark on. I'm looking forward to the familiarity of the path, albeit that it and I have aged by 8 years, and the different photographic possibilities facilitated by digital capture rather than on film. The last time I covered the return journey in separate 23 days over the course of about 6 months. This time I plan to spread the project over a full year with a view to being somewhere on the path during every season. I missed out completely on winter and spring the last time.

So, here goes ...

Links to my earlier projects and their blogs are given in the previous post.


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