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A Blizzard on Mam Tor

Stepping off a train in the middle of the Peak District National Park at 5am, I shouldn't have been surprised to see I was the only bracing the cold this early. Winter here was now in full swing, and I had nothing but the moonlight and my phone torch to guide me. I was planning on hiking Mam Tor, one of the most beloved locations for photography in the peaks, and the snow was a happy coincidence.

I was questioning why I was the only one here, but as I approached the summit, razor-cold winds began to sweep over the now unexposed landscape. I was not prepared for anything this strong, and at times I had to walk with my body leaning fully against the wind to prevent me being blown off completely. Once I reached the peak, it became quickly apparent that these were not ideal conditions for photography. The blizzard was so intense I could not face towards it without being poked in the eyes by its sheer speed, and my lack of gloves made handling a camera a very stupid idea.

Going ahead with this stupid idea nevertheless, I fumbled with my poor Nikon and tried to compose something under the moon, ignoring the constant battering of pure ice. After a few minutes of this, I began to lose feeling in my fingers and my face, and an instinct I've felt only a handful of times washed over me and told me to run like hell. Winds were picking up, and I had not told anyone where I was. This ordeal however, I would learn later, resulted in an image of Mam Tor unlike any I've seen and one of my personal favourite photographs.

A photograph too stupid for anyone else to take

Hands in pockets, I sprinted half-blind down the hopefully descending path. Spiralling down around the body of Mam Tor, the incessant winds finally ceased as they became blocked by the body of the mountain itself. In that moment of bone-frozen relief, the silhouettes of two foxes danced in front of me as they played in the snow. With fingers out of action, switching lenses at this point an impossibility, so I just watched and enjoyed the newfound nirvana.

During my eventual descent, the sun rose and the weather began to calm. Not being able to see the path in front of me, I chanced upon some other unwitting participants of the morning barrage, who were wearing much more appropriate attire.

Once at the bottom, I decided to spend the hour wait for a train (don't get me started on British trains) watching a very inquisitive herd of horn-bearing sheep, and captured what I will one day have to make into holiday cards ∎

Seasons greetings


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