4 Actions Outdoor Lovers can take to share countryside images while Social-Distancing

April 15, 2020  •  Leave a Comment

This time last year I visited King’s Wood, Challock, Kent, in my opinion Kent’s grandest woodland. It was Bluebell season, which I love and I managed to get a couple of okay photographs, attached.  Moss and Bluebells in King's WoodMoss and Bluebells in King's WoodKing's Wood, Challock, near Ashford is, arguably, the top woodland area in Kent. Managed by the Forestry Commission and the Kingswood Association it's a diverse country space and in spring the woods are carpeted in bluebells.

But it's not just covered in these beautiful perennial plants/bulbous herbs. Go in closer and you can focus on mosses, wild mushrooms and wild flowers.
Like many UK based outdoor photographers, I follow the country’s annual wild flower blooming calendar, and try to go to the ‘best’ regional flowering places, whether to see Snowdrops, Daffodils, Gorse, Bluebells, Poppies, Honeysuckle, Heather, Sunflowers, or Winter Jasmine. This year, though, visits have, for obvious reasons, had to stop.

Bluebell Trail through King's WoodBluebell Trail through King's WoodKing's Wood, Challock, near Ashford is, arguably, the top woodland area in Kent. Managed by the Forestry Commission and the Kingswood Association it's a diverse country space and in the Spring the woods are carpeted in bluebells.

Woodland trails are my favourite places to walk, explore, see what's round the next turn. King's Wood is the best for this as it's also a peaceful area, well away from background traffic hum.

I am, of course, like the vast majority of us, 100% committed to Social-Distancing and abiding by government guidelines. We must protect each other and our key workers – heroes to a person and work together to combat Covid-19 Coronavirus. Which, rightly, means that I can’t just re-visit King’s Wood as I like for Bluebells 2020. I don’t live within daily exercise walking-running-cycling distance* and can’t claim that the 41-mile (66 km) drive there is an ‘essential journey’.

 

 As the lockdown continues, other wild flowers – certainly the Spring and Summer bloomers, will start appearing in favourable (for them) places around the South East. But few of us will be able to see them in these habitats, unless we live nearby, or the pandemic is defeated sooner than is currently anticipated.

 

Where I live, in North Kent, there’s some lovely countryside that I can walk-run-cycle to for daily exercise: a country park, lakeland area, the rivers Thames and Darent, a few small woodlands. And while there, I can briefly enjoy the fresh air and grab a few hand-held shots before heading home. But alas, none of them are renowned for memorable displays of wild flowers. However, all is not lost. It just means that, during this unprecedented period, those of us interested in the UK’s wild flower timetable 2020, must positively resort to a combination of 4 actions:

 

  1. Accept that our love of the great outdoors is a distant second to our national emergency. Our priority must be the health and welfare of our families, neighbours, key workers and the local community. With this firmly in mind,
  2. Encourage enthusiasts who do live within daily exercise distance of the ‘best’ wild flower habitats, to capture and share photographs on social media. No-one should expect landscape art here, or photographers to put themselves and others at risk by, for example, heading out at what might otherwise be considered ‘optimum’ times, or wait around for just the right light, or set up tripods, use filters and so on (none of which is in the spirit of responsible social-distancing behaviour anyway, in my view). Just enjoy such images as our fellow enthusiasts can capture and share under the circumstances
  3. Visit our own back-catalogues and share favourite images from previous years. These can be compared with the 2020 images (from 2. above) to see how this season compares. This is not in any way setting up some kind of photographic competition. It’s simply about seeing what’s different this season compared to previous years, maybe in the flowers themselves, or in the conditions in which they’re growing. And
  4. When we go out ourselves for daily exercise, take a camera and capture the beauty that is on offer in our respective local areas. Okay, we may not live near the premiere sites that we’d ideally like to visit. But let’s count our blessings that we’re well enough to go out for our daily exercise and photograph and share what we can. Here, we might even surprise ourselves and discover hitherto hidden wonders that we’d otherwise have kept walking past and ignored. Also, for us dedicated photographers, this will, I’m sure, force us to look more closely at things, think more creatively and challenge ourselves to experiment. Dare I say, even improve our skills.

 

As an outdoor photographer, I naturally miss getting out (in my case) across Kent and East Sussex. And what a time to miss, now that Spring is here. But let’s be clear, my loss is trivial. Right now, lives are at risk, heroes are working long, stressful hours, and the population is fearful. So, for me at least, it’s time to count my blessings, do what I can to help my local community and then, where possible, get some photographs to share with others that might, if only for a short moment, take their eyes and thoughts elsewhere into the great UK countryside and provide a welcome smile. 

 

*Any reference to daily exercise allowance is in accordance with the guidelines that apply at the time of writing. These may be subject to change, if tighter lockdown conditions become necessary.

 


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