Landscape photography is a passion of mine and one, that sadly I have neglected, due to many other pressures. Just recently I have been taking the camera out for a walk, not forgetting the dog, of course. We frequently find ourselves in one particular spot near South Molton, where the Filleigh Estate has kindly set aside a beautiful walk along the banks of the River Bray for everyone to enjoy. There is one particular spot along the route with an impressive waterfall, a raging torrent in the winter but thankfully this summer quite docile. Just above the waterfall, a dried up channel leads to a set of old sluice gates that used to feed water to power a mill wheel.
The flour mill was first opened at Filleigh in 1747 and as far as I have been able to find out, only became a sawmill in 1922. Exactly how old these sluice gates are is difficult to tell – perhaps they don’t predate the sawmill. If you have any information, I would be interested to know. I am fascinated by these relics of the industrial revolution. This particular set of rack and pinion gates was hand operated and judging by the size must have been hard work to open and close. They were a cheap and ingenious solution to providing ‘green’ power – which is still to this day, a highly prized commodity. Having at one time tamed the natural elements, they are now in turn, being engulfed by nature. The heavy iron structure of these rusting gates are bolted onto a wooden frame that is also being weathered by wind and rain, producing the most amazing textures and tones. I think it was probably this that first caught my eye. Whilst I spend some time photographing these gates and finding new angles with every visit, Fizz the Paterdale is digging in the hedgerow, filling her nostrils with smells of pheasant, fox and rabbits. I am not sure who is having the most fun but invariably she is the first to move on!
Images © 2013 John Russell Photography.