the dan milner photography blog: tales of an adventuring photo chimp

June 21, 2009

Back to Blighty.. riding the best of British trails 10 years on

Filed under: bike — danmilner @ 12:29 pm

I just got back from a 2-week, haul-ass trip around Britain, home of brown-sauce, baked potato-dinners, damn fine ale and the Athertons, where I was shooting a feature for What Mountainbike magazine. My story pitch was to revisit some old haunts that I used to ride way back (Okay, a decade ago) when I lived in the UK, and see if they have changed, how the bike scene in the UK has evolved and to see if the UK’s trails still live up to my old expectations after ten years living and riding in the Alps and other exotic locations. Unsurprisingly, they still do.

Aided and guided by local riders Nic Kidd in the Peaks, James Richards in the Lakes and former XC masters champion Iain Nimmo in Scotland, and accompanied by the man-whippet James Brickell atop the svelte Gary Fisher Hi-Fi carbon, we were treated to some blindingly good trails, squeezing in some 11 rides in 13 days. Not bad by anyone’s standards. Shooting at every turn of the way with my trusty Leica M8, the British weather stayed uncharacteristically dry, meaning the Endura wet weather shorts stayed firmly in my waterproof Ergon BD-3 backpack. 

It’s funny how an idea evolves. What originally started out as an idea to peruse and shoot a photo-study on the kitsch tea shops of the West country (with a little riding in tow) ended up becoming a full-on, no-holds barred riding extravaganza, that saw me enjoying the opportunity to capture “Britishness” as I saw it through the lens, both in terms of riders railing through what is some of Europe’s most beautiful countryside and the little details that make Britain well, British (albeit without the rain). The uncharacteristically dry weather, while welcome when lugging around £5k of camera gear on your back, threw a spanner in the works of my plans to fill memory cards with atmospheric ‘dark, satanic mills’ landscapes, meaning I had to look harder for the soulful touch that I hope characterises my images. Big, atmospheric skies and distinctly British artifacts like dry-stone walls meant almost everywhere I looked there was a great image to be captured though. It just shows that a little absence, or even ten years of it, can make a heart grow stronger. Britain, and its epic trails, is back on my radar for an annual trip. Watch this space.


A slice of riding in Blighty

A slice of riding in Blighty


1 Comment »

  1. Great photos!

    Comment by Stephen Reel — June 23, 2009 @ 9:56 pm

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