Black Rocks and High Tor

Hello all, been a long time since an actual photography blog I know, just been so busy with a lot of other little things going off in the works and I’ve not had a chance to sit down and bash out a blog (and even edit some of my newer stuff!), so here’s my first of many recent shoots. This time from Black Rocks and High Tor.

Both Black Rocks and High Tor are not in the Peak District, but just outside the boundary near Cromford and Matlock Bath. Both have great features and if you didn’t know so you would actually think they were in the Peak District.

I was fortunate enough to move to Matlock in September last year, this put me closer to the Peak District but the surrounding area has always held a special place in my heart. For years I’ve been meaning to get some more “local” shots as I believe there are some less seen and photographed locations and for no good reason in particular.

First is Black Rocks, a small gritstone escarpment nestled in limestone country just above Cromford. It’s a bit of a weird spot really as the geology of the area really doesn’t suit the location. It’s also a very popular spot for families, walkers and climbers and is usually very busy at any time of the year. If you want a bit of peace, it’s probably better to do a sunrise here.

I have previously tried a couple of times to do sunrise here, I had envisioned a sunrise with mist below being above it all but unfortunately both times I tried the mist was simply too high shrouding it. This time, I woke up and as I live high up and could see I was above it myself with a clear view across to Black Rocks so I knew as long as it didn’t start rising it would be on. I took the 10 minute drive and arrived to see this popular spot already had a few people out on a early morning stroll.

I made the quick but steep ascent to the top of ┬áBlack Rocks and I wasn’t disappointed with the scene, a fog filled valley with a few clouds above, perfect. I set about my work, trying plenty of different compositions from wide angle to telephoto squeezing the most out of the morning.

One of my first shots had me a little scared, there is a famous climb called Meshuga which goes up an overhanging prow and I was stood on the top of this overhang with a fair drop either side. It wasn’t ever dangerous, but you’re never more aware of the drops as you try and squeeze yourself and a large tripod on.

Black Rocks and High Tor

Meshuga - Black Rocks Sunrise - Landscape Photography

Meshuga – Black Rocks Sunrise – Landscape Photography


The next image was to the left of the above, it was taken looking towards the sunrise and the ever so famous climb, Meshuga and to where I was stood.

Meshuga Sunrise - Black Rocks

Meshuga Sunrise – Black Rocks



As a landscape photographer, it can be all to easy to work with a ultra wide angle lens but it’s nice to practice with a telephoto lens from time to time. I always carry a telephoto with me despite their weight and lack of use but it’s better to have than be without when you need it most. When there’s mist and fog though they can come into their own allowing you to really zoom in and just picking out the details. The first image is of Riber Castle which is barely visible in the images above, you MAY just be able to spot where it is. This “castle” stands proud above the town of Matlock and is something I look at every day. I had always wanted an image of it but found it tricky to capture. With this mist though, it was nice as it made the composition simple allowing the castle to stand proud and dominate the image:

Riber Castle - Matlock - Landscape Photography

Riber Castle – Matlock – Landscape Photography

Next was looking down to Matlock Bath, which really was cloaked in the fog with just the top of the Heights of Abraham with the watch tower poking out and High Tor and it’s radio mast poking out. An ethereal scene:

Matlock Mists - Landscape Photography

Matlock Mists – Landscape Photography

Speaking of High Tor, it’s another place that had been on my radar since my first ever visit up there. It’s a sheer faced limestone cliff just outside Matlock Bath and is sometimes referred to as “The Eiger of Derbyshire” and again is a popular route for climbers. I had been scratching my head how to capture it for some time because it never really catches the golden hour sun. However, seeing from Black Rocks that it was on the cusp of the fog I thought it’d be well worth venturing up and so I did. Once at the summit there is usually a great view to Matlock Bath below, this time a little more obscured. I played with the tricky composition making the most of what I had leaning over the cliff edge, keeping a little of the frosted rock in the image and waited patiently for the fog to break a little to give a glimpse to the road and buildings below to give some sense of scale. I feel I had achieved an image I wanted here that would be hard to repeat for some time:

High Tor - Landscape Photography

High Tor – Landscape Photography

Next is another part of High Tor I had wanted to capture and was again scratching my head. There is an old Victorian style via ferrata just below the summit called “Giddy Edge”. The narrow ridge may test those with a faint heart but its a great little hidden spot most won’t know about. Beware though! It’s one way! Again, the fog really helped with a sense of mystery about the drop below:

Giddy Edge  - High Tor - Landscape Photography

Giddy Edge – High Tor – Landscape Photography


Finally, I had a quick nip up to Riber Castle (you really have to make the most of these conditions!) to try and capture some scenes above the fog. There wasn’t much going on by the time I got there and I couldn’t stroll around freely due to these cows. So I made the most of the situation and photographed them instead getting as close as I dared (you can see one of their hooves raised!)

Riber Castle Cows - Landscape Photography

Riber Castle Cows – Landscape Photography



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