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A Guide to the history of British Flying Sites within the United Kingdom
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The view from above - aerial pictures from around Great Britain




AN INTRODUCTION
Note: All pictures by the author unless specified. I trust that you will realise that for the purposes of including these pictures in this 'Guide' the maximum resolution is 500KB, so that they can be viewed on devices with limited capabilities. And, many were taken through perspex - which doesn't help. Plus of course, the typical British weather does not often provide ideal conditions for aerial photography. However, and I hope you will agree, I sometimes like to see our landscapes in a more sombre mood. But, and I trust you will agree, (given a bit of tweeking), that they are still sharp enough for you to enjoy looking at.


Right from my very first flight in an Auster providing 'joy rides', as a lad and almost breathless with excitement, I couldn't quite believe after lifting off just how quickly a completely new world presented itself - and it was fabulous. Many years later I took the plunge and enrolled to start a course of tuition which resulted in gaining a private pilots license.


THE FIRST SOLO FLIGHT
Many people think that going on the first solo must be one of the great highlights in life, but I didn't find this to be the case. I was very busy at the time, I had been very well taught, and it was really was just a case of A,B,C in the right order! The real buzz came when I was let off, on my own, to fly around the local area. I was very fortunate to decide to do most of my tuition from Wycombe Air Park which is surrounded by the some of the most lovely scenic views you can expect to find anywhere in inland England. And that flight enabled me to take the time to have look around - and I was enthralled.

Perhaps needless to say, once I had my license the gates of opportunity were opened, and I immediately set about the business of learning how to navigate further and further afield. In the end I flew from the UK to many countries in Europe, and indeed took many opportunites to fly locally when visiting many countries, and often saw the most amazing sights, like flying alongside the very top of Mont Blanc for example.

But, the further afield I flew, the more I came to appreciate just how seriously lovely so much of Great Britain is. It may not have the jaw-dropping magnificence which can be found in a few places abroad, but for sheer scenic beauty our little island has a lot to offer. And the fact that it varies so much as you fly around simply adds to its appeal. Not least because, being an island, we have a fabulous coastline - something the makers of the TV series 'Coast' picked up on. Adding the multitude of features such as picturesque little towns, stately homes, castles etc results in a visual cocktail which, in its own splendid way, is quite unique.


SEARCHING THROUGH PICTURES
In searching through my pictures to find aerial shots of UK flying sites to illustrate this 'Guide' I came across so many pictures taken along the way that I had mostly forgotten about, but which brought back so many fond memories. And back into their boxes they went. It wasn't until April 2017 that the idea occurred to me that, instead of consigning these pictures to a blacked-out fate inside a box, probably never to be seen again - why not share them? Why not share the joy I once had in seeing these often fabulous views.

I did once earn part of my living, for nearly a quarter of century, as a freelance writer and photographer, so I trust you will agree that these pictures are of reasonable quality. It will of course take some time to construct this 'portfolio', alongside working on the web-site, but I do hope you will visit this article from time to time to see the latest additions. The pictures will be added to the 'galleries' in no particular order, but the captions will tell you where, and usually when, the pictures were taken. I will try to make the choice of pictures in all these galleries compliment each other by their visual and subject matter differences.


AN UNIQUE SERIES OF FLIGHTS
All the pictures in the Scottish Highlands and the west of Scotland are entirely due to the expertise of my very good friend James Roland, then a senior captain with British Airways, (due to retire in 2017), and having a share in the Cessna 172 Reims Rocket floatplane, G-DRAM based on Loch Earn. Probably over a dram or two we came up with the idea of landing on the A to Z of Lochs in one day. But, there was a problem - the Lochs in Scotland have Celtic names, a language which doesn't have an X, Y and Z.

Not a problem I thought, we are pilots so we cheat. X, Y and Z can be the deepest, longest and largest Lochs. Flyer magazine, who had agreed to run an article on this unique endeavour also concurred. In the end we landed on twenty nine Lochs that day! . And, I am totally certain, I never once touched the controls. Simply a passenger to keep a log and take the snaps along the way - what a fabulous experience.




GALLERY ONE   

St Ives, Cornwall, April 2000
St Ives, Cornwall, April 2000
Brighton pier in 2001
Brighton pier in 2001
The Needles, Isle of Wight
The Needles, Isle of Wight
Tintern Abbey, Monmouthshire, 1995
Tintern Abbey, Monmouthshire, 1995

A village in the Cotswolds, autumn 1998
A village in the Cotswolds, autumn 1998
Oxford colleges
Oxford colleges
Marlow on the river Thames in Buckinghamshire
Marlow on the river Thames in Buckinghamshire
Central London, Westminster, Nov 1993. Including the Houses of Parliament and Buckingham Palace
Central London, Westminster, Nov 1993. Including the Houses of Parliament and Buckingham Palace

Swanage in Dorset
Swanage in Dorset
Chequers - see note 5
Chequers - see note 5
Loch Morar in the west of Scotland
Loch Morar in the west of Scotland
The first Severn bridge, circa early 1990s
The first Severn bridge, circa early 1990s




 

GALLERY TWO

Arundel and castle beyond in 2001
Arundel and castle beyond in 2001
Beachy Head in 2001
Beachy Head in 2001
Lynton & Lynemouth, North Devon in April 2000
Lynton & Lynemouth, North Devon in April 2000
The Channel Tunnel terminal, Folkestone, in November 1995
The Channel Tunnel terminal, Folkestone, in November 1995

The 'White Horse' monument near Westbury in Wiltshire, circa early 1990s
The 'White Horse' monument near Westbury in Wiltshire, circa early 1990s
Herstmonceux Castle in Kent, 2001
Herstmonceux Castle in Kent, 2001
The second Severn bridge - see note 3
The second Severn bridge - see note 3
The Sands of Morar, western Scotland in September 2002
The Sands of Morar, western Scotland in September 2002

Padstow, Cornwall in May 2000
Padstow, Cornwall in May 2000
Oxford colleges, including the Bodleian Library
Oxford colleges, including the Bodleian Library
View looking west from Loch Linhe
View looking west from Loch Linhe
Blackpool Pleasure Beach seen on a dull day in 2003
Blackpool Pleasure Beach seen on a dull day in 2003







GALLERY THREE
Flooding in the Severn valley. See note 6
Flooding in the Severn valley. See note 6
Swaffam, Norfolk in 2001
Swaffam, Norfolk in 2001
Some of the Farne Islands, Northumberland. See note 7
Some of the Farne Islands, Northumberland. See note 7
Wareham, Dorset in 2003
Wareham, Dorset in 2003

Durdle Door in Dorset, 2001
Durdle Door in Dorset, 2001
Broadstairs in 2001
Broadstairs in 2001
Barmouth, Gwynedd, 1993
Barmouth, Gwynedd, 1993
St Micheal's Mount, Cornwall
St Micheal's Mount, Cornwall

A grand old house, somewhere in Suffolk I think?
A grand old house, somewhere in Suffolk I think?
Bournemouth pier in 2001
Bournemouth pier in 2001
Leeds Castle in Kent
Leeds Castle in Kent
A windmill NW of West Wycombe, Buckinghamshire
A windmill NW of West Wycombe, Buckinghamshire









GALLERY FOUR
Loch Loyne, Scotland, September 2002
Loch Loyne, Scotland, September 2002
Stourport-on-Severn, Worcestershire. Circa 2003
Stourport-on-Severn, Worcestershire. Circa 2003
The northern end of Portsmouth harbour, circa 1990
The northern end of Portsmouth harbour, circa 1990
Salisbury cathedral in 2001
Salisbury cathedral in 2001

Bexhill in 2001 showing its three unique features - see note 2
Bexhill in 2001 showing its three unique features - see note 2
Redsand Fort (comprising 7 Maunsell Forts) in the Thames estuary
Redsand Fort (comprising 7 Maunsell Forts) in the Thames estuary
Ilfracombe, north Devon, in April 2000
Ilfracombe, north Devon, in April 2000
Land's End in April 2000
Land's End in April 2000

A country house in Buckinghamshire
A country house in Buckinghamshire
Junction of the M.1 & M.25 motorways, (Hertfordshire), circa mid 1990s
Junction of the M.1 & M.25 motorways, (Hertfordshire), circa mid 1990s
Friar Park, Henley. See note 4
Friar Park, Henley. See note 4
Oronsay, mouth of Loch Sunart, Scotland 2002
Oronsay, mouth of Loch Sunart, Scotland 2002
















 

GALLERY FIVE

Old Harry Rocks in Dorset, 2001
Old Harry Rocks in Dorset, 2001
Brighton Pavillion in August 2001
Brighton Pavillion in August 2001
East London docklands including Canary Wharf and London City Airport just visible, in 1993
East London docklands including Canary Wharf and London City Airport just visible, in 1993
Christ Church college in Oxford
Christ Church college in Oxford

Tintagel, Cornwall in April 2000
Tintagel, Cornwall in April 2000
Beachy Head and lighthouse in 2001
Beachy Head and lighthouse in 2001
The Golden Ball - see note 1
The Golden Ball - see note 1
A detail view of Old Harry Rocks in 2001
A detail view of Old Harry Rocks in 2001

Tarbert, western Scotland, 2002
Tarbert, western Scotland, 2002
Foston Hall, Derbyshire 2004. Now a prison for women
Foston Hall, Derbyshire 2004. Now a prison for women
North Berwick, East Lothian, Scotland, 2004
North Berwick, East Lothian, Scotland, 2004
Millbrook vehicle testing ground, Bedfordshire
Millbrook vehicle testing ground, Bedfordshire
















GALLERY SIX
Corfe Castle, Dorset, 2003
Corfe Castle, Dorset, 2003
Berwick-upon-Tweed, May 2004
Berwick-upon-Tweed, May 2004
Port Talbot steelworks, South Wales, August 1996. See note 23
Port Talbot steelworks, South Wales, August 1996. See note 23
Glencoe, (western Scotland), seen from Loch Leven, 2002
Glencoe, (western Scotland), seen from Loch Leven, 2002

Kew Gardens in southwest London, July 2004. See note 8
Kew Gardens in southwest London, July 2004. See note 8
Whitby, Yorkshire in 2004
Whitby, Yorkshire in 2004
Walmer Castle, Kent. See note 19
Walmer Castle, Kent. See note 19
Mudeford in Hampshire, 2001
Mudeford in Hampshire, 2001

Craster, Northumberland
Craster, Northumberland
The centre of Sunderland with the football stadium in 2004
The centre of Sunderland with the football stadium in 2004
Chequers, Buckinghamshire, February 1991
Chequers, Buckinghamshire, February 1991
The Cerne Abbas Giant - see note 11
The Cerne Abbas Giant - see note 11






GALLERY SEVEN
Scarborough, Yorkshire in 2004
Scarborough, Yorkshire in 2004
The Sound of Jura, western Scotland in 2002
The Sound of Jura, western Scotland in 2002
A circus near Rye in Kent, 2001
A circus near Rye in Kent, 2001
Brownsea Island detail, Poole Harbour, Dorset in 2001
Brownsea Island detail, Poole Harbour, Dorset in 2001

Blenheim Palace & park, Oxfordshire, early 1990s
Blenheim Palace & park, Oxfordshire, early 1990s
Dover castle & ferry port, September 1996
Dover castle & ferry port, September 1996
Scene in Glen Moriston 2002, western Scotland - see note 9
Scene in Glen Moriston 2002, western Scotland - see note 9
The pier in Deal, Kent, see note 10
The pier in Deal, Kent, see note 10

The town centre in Bath, Somerset, 2000
The town centre in Bath, Somerset, 2000
Felixstowe container port detail
Felixstowe container port detail
Christchurch in Hampshire, 2001
Christchurch in Hampshire, 2001
Utterly remote, a view in the Highlands, Scotland, 2002
Utterly remote, a view in the Highlands, Scotland, 2002





GALLERY EIGHT
Dunstanburgh Castle, Northumberland
Dunstanburgh Castle, Northumberland
St Helier, Jersey, seen in the evening when departing for Dinard, April 1999
St Helier, Jersey, seen in the evening when departing for Dinard, April 1999
The entrance to Grimsby dock, Lincolnshire
The entrance to Grimsby dock, Lincolnshire
Ryde, Isle of Wight, in September 2000
Ryde, Isle of Wight, in September 2000

View from Loch Eilt, 2002
View from Loch Eilt, 2002
Newquay, Cornwall in April 2000
Newquay, Cornwall in April 2000
Another view of central London in 1993
Another view of central London in 1993
View from Mull to Tiree and Coll
View from Mull to Tiree and Coll

Lovely grand house in Surrey, see note 12
Lovely grand house in Surrey, see note 12
The lighthouse on St Catherine's Point, Isle of Wight
The lighthouse on St Catherine's Point, Isle of Wight
Longford Castle, SSE of Salisbury, Wiltshire
Longford Castle, SSE of Salisbury, Wiltshire
Autumn in the Cotswolds, Gloucestershire
Autumn in the Cotswolds, Gloucestershire






GALLERY NINE
Marlow in the snow, February 1991
Marlow in the snow, February 1991
Amble, Northumberland, May 2004
Amble, Northumberland, May 2004
Hartland Point, Devon in 2000
Hartland Point, Devon in 2000
Newly imported cars in Sheerness docks, Kent
Newly imported cars in Sheerness docks, Kent

The Fishbourne ferry terminal on the Isle of Wight - see note 13
The Fishbourne ferry terminal on the Isle of Wight - see note 13
A housing estate in Milton Keynes - see note 14
A housing estate in Milton Keynes - see note 14
Loch Shiel, Glenfinnan beyond, September 2002
Loch Shiel, Glenfinnan beyond, September 2002
Tewkesbury Abbey, Gloucestershire, during the floods in October 1998. See note 6
Tewkesbury Abbey, Gloucestershire, during the floods in October 1998. See note 6

Cambridge colleges in July 2001
Cambridge colleges in July 2001
North Foreland on the NE corner of Kent
North Foreland on the NE corner of Kent
Another view of Colleges in Oxford
Another view of Colleges in Oxford
Dover docks in August 2001 - see note 15
Dover docks in August 2001 - see note 15







GALLERY TEN
Another view of the Brighton Pavilion - see note 16
Another view of the Brighton Pavilion - see note 16
Ballachulish, Loch Leven, September 2002
Ballachulish, Loch Leven, September 2002
Another view of Arundel and the castle in 2001
Another view of Arundel and the castle in 2001
Flood scene in Oxfordshire
Flood scene in Oxfordshire

Reculver Towers and Roman fort, east of Herne Bay, Kent
Reculver Towers and Roman fort, east of Herne Bay, Kent
Goring on the river Thames, Berkshire
Goring on the river Thames, Berkshire
Loch Lochy, Loch Ness beyond in the Great Glen
Loch Lochy, Loch Ness beyond in the Great Glen
A closer view of Leeds Castle in Kent
A closer view of Leeds Castle in Kent

A nuclear submarine in the river Clyde, Scotland. September 2002
A nuclear submarine in the river Clyde, Scotland. September 2002
A view, from the north, of Wargrave on the river Thames in 1994
A view, from the north, of Wargrave on the river Thames in 1994
The Uffington White Horse and Bronze Age settlement, Oxfordshire, 1995
The Uffington White Horse and Bronze Age settlement, Oxfordshire, 1995
Ellenabeich, Sound of Insh, western Scotland. September 2002
Ellenabeich, Sound of Insh, western Scotland. September 2002






GALLERY ELEVEN
A scene on the Crinan Canal, western Scotland. September 2002
A scene on the Crinan Canal, western Scotland. September 2002
Essex coastline view, N to NE of Shoeburyness
Essex coastline view, N to NE of Shoeburyness
Sandbanks, Poole Harbour. The Haven Hotel and chain ferry to Studland, Dorset, August 2001
Sandbanks, Poole Harbour. The Haven Hotel and chain ferry to Studland, Dorset, August 2001
View from West Wycombe looking north west, Buckinghamshire
View from West Wycombe looking north west, Buckinghamshire

Blackpool Tower on a dull day in June 2003
Blackpool Tower on a dull day in June 2003
A view of the Lake District - see note 18
A view of the Lake District - see note 18
A golf course in Essex - see note 17
A golf course in Essex - see note 17
Yet another grand house - see note 12
Yet another grand house - see note 12

Tobermory, Sound of Mull, western Scotland. September 2002
Tobermory, Sound of Mull, western Scotland. September 2002
Deal Castle in Kent - see note 19
Deal Castle in Kent - see note 19
Another view of Tintagel in Cornwall
Another view of Tintagel in Cornwall
A typical English village, Westmill in Hertfordshire
A typical English village, Westmill in Hertfordshire







GALLERY TWELVE
Part of the Morecambe Bay Sands
Part of the Morecambe Bay Sands
Another view of Cambridge colleges
Another view of Cambridge colleges
Elgar country today, Malvern with the hills beyond
Elgar country today, Malvern with the hills beyond
Fish farm in the Sound of Mull, western Scotland
Fish farm in the Sound of Mull, western Scotland

Sandwich in Kent, August 2001. See note 20
Sandwich in Kent, August 2001. See note 20
Flooding in the Severn valley, see note 6
Flooding in the Severn valley, see note 6
Blackpool Central Pier
Blackpool Central Pier
Seaview on the Isle of Wight. September 2000
Seaview on the Isle of Wight. September 2000

The view looking north from Loch Pattack. The smallest Loch landed on in 2002
The view looking north from Loch Pattack. The smallest Loch landed on in 2002
The Transport Research Laboratory, Crowthorne, Berkshire
The Transport Research Laboratory, Crowthorne, Berkshire
Gourock, at the top of the Firth of Clyde, Scotland - 2003
Gourock, at the top of the Firth of Clyde, Scotland - 2003
A small Cotswold village in the autumn
A small Cotswold village in the autumn







GALLERY THIRTEEN
Tewkesbury in the 1995 floods. See note 6
Tewkesbury in the 1995 floods. See note 6
Loch Oich, (centre of picture), the smallest Loch in the Great Glen, Scotland
Loch Oich, (centre of picture), the smallest Loch in the Great Glen, Scotland
Selsey Bill in West Sussex - see note 21
Selsey Bill in West Sussex - see note 21
The Mersey Ferry, Birkenhead to Liverpool
The Mersey Ferry, Birkenhead to Liverpool

Another view of Marlow, on the river Thames, in Buckinghamshire
Another view of Marlow, on the river Thames, in Buckinghamshire
A mobile-home park, during the 1998 floods in the river Severn
A mobile-home park, during the 1998 floods in the river Severn
Dover Eastern docks circa mid 1990s. See note 15
Dover Eastern docks circa mid 1990s. See note 15
A view along the Cumbrian coast. See note 22
A view along the Cumbrian coast. See note 22

Another view of Broadstairs in Kent
Another view of Broadstairs in Kent
Port Talbot steel works, South Wales, belching steam. See note 23
Port Talbot steel works, South Wales, belching steam. See note 23
Christchurch marina detail, Hampshire
Christchurch marina detail, Hampshire
Another view in Glen Moriston - see note 9
Another view in Glen Moriston - see note 9






GALLERY FOURTEEN
The Stade, Old Hastings, East Sussex - see note 24
The Stade, Old Hastings, East Sussex - see note 24
The centre of Liverpool, in 2003
The centre of Liverpool, in 2003
Foreness Point, northeast Kent, August 2001
Foreness Point, northeast Kent, August 2001
Loch Arkaig, western Scotland, 2002
Loch Arkaig, western Scotland, 2002

West Wycombe Park, Buckinghamshire - see note 25
West Wycombe Park, Buckinghamshire - see note 25
Tilbury docks, river Thames, Essex - see note 26
Tilbury docks, river Thames, Essex - see note 26
A view en route to Loch Awe in western Scotland, 2002
A view en route to Loch Awe in western Scotland, 2002
Bude, Cornwall, April 2000
Bude, Cornwall, April 2000

The Ro-Ro terminal in Felixstowe, Suffolk
The Ro-Ro terminal in Felixstowe, Suffolk
The Sands of Morar, September 2002
The Sands of Morar, September 2002
A scene over the Norfolk Broads - see note 27
A scene over the Norfolk Broads - see note 27
Power stations in the Thames estuary
Power stations in the Thames estuary





NOTES:

(1) The seventh picture in Gallery Five is of 'The Golden Ball' on top of the Church of St Lawrence in West Wycombe, Buckinghamshire - the Sir Francis Dashwood Musoleum is just to the right of the church. Please look up Sir Francis and his involvement with the 'Hellfire Club'. The caves are beneath this church.

Taken by Austin J Brown in March 1994, it shows the FLS SAH.1 Sprint flying overhead on its way for an air-to air sortie for Flyer magazine. The author was flying the Cessna 172 camera-ship G-WACL. However, another important reason for including this picture is that it was the reporting point on the Wycombe Air Park circuit before turning onto base leg if the 25 runways were being used. I'm sure older pilots reading this, and familiar with Wycombe Air Park, will fondly remember the AFIS chap or chapess, in the tower, giving the instruction when downwind - "Report Golden Ball".  

As I did most of my flying instruction at Wycombe Air Park, this particular advice will always stick in my memory. The other advice, if using the grass runway 35, was, if my memory is correct, to report the 'Pink House' in sight, or something similar, as this was in line with the runway which was sometimes quite difficult to see from a distance.



(2)  BEXHILL
It is quite astonishing. Having since visited the town I would say that this picture shows, in close proximity, three of the main features. And yet the tourist web-sites totally ignore two of them. The De La Warr pavillion, of Art Deco style, is made a great deal of, but it really is not such a good example of the period. In front is the delightful Colonnade with shops and cafes. But, to the right is a terrace of houses, in Marina Court Avenue, which are in their own way possibly unique, and a treat to view.



(3)  THE SECOND SEVERN BRIDGE
The seventh picture in Gallery Two, of the second bridge across the Severn was taken in October 1995. The London office of a major European picture library that I was contributing pictures to thought that a picture of the bridge nearing completion would make a great "nearly there" concept picture. I thought the same, and accordingly drove down to Bristol airport to hire the Cessna 172 G-BNKD for the sortie. Once airborne it was an abysmal prospect - an area of thick haze was surrounding the bridge - but I plugged on regardless. Let's face it, I certainly wasn't going back to a second attempt.  

I thought the results, taken looking down through the haze, weren't too bad. But, I don't think any of the variety of pictures taken that day of the bridge ever sold. And that of course is par for the course if attempting to earn a living as a freelance photographer, especially when aerial photography is concerned. The conditions in our green and septic island can often vary so much, and change hour by hour. 



(4)  FRIAR PARK, HENLEY-on-THAMES (OXFORDSHIRE)
Eighth picture: Gallery Four.
In February 1991 we had a heavy snowfall in SE England, which settled and stayed, which is quite unusual. The next day, under a high pressure weather system, the sky was clear, so on the 14th I drove across to WYCOMBE AIR PARK to hire the Cessna 172 G-WACL (my favourite in the fleet at Wycombe Air Centre) to view the scenes. Taking my camera and flying solo, despite having only 120 hours logged, I was determined to get pictures of the amazing snowbound scenes. And, knowing nothing about aerial photography, took the pictures through perspex - not thinking to open the window! 

This picture, of Friar Park, is I think interesting because George Harrison of the Beatles 'pop group', purchased it in 1970. Well worth looking up on Wikipedia etc. It appears his wife still lives here.



(5)  CHEQUERS
Tenth picture: Gallery One.
This 16th century manor house has been the official country residence for the British Prime Minister since 1921. (Also see my listing of this as a flying site). I have flown several people as passengers past Chequers, and foreign visitors especially have been amazed that it is allowed to fly so close. I do hope this privilege continues, as it does help to illustrate a certain amount of practical thinking within official circles, accepting that there are no walls and fences in our airspace.



(6)  FLOODING IN THE SEVERN VALLEY
Several areas in the UK are prone to flooding on a regular basis, and the Severn valley is one of them. Generally the people living in the area can cope reasonably well, but, if my memory is correct, both February 1995 and October 1998 produced unusually severe floods. Hence the decision by Aussie Brown and myself to fly across, on both occassions, and take some pictures. What some of these pictures clearly shows is the course of the river Severn, appearing almost like a sunken road, and illustrating just how extensive flooding can be after a period of very heavy rain.

And, from my point of view, flying over the region, providing some very dramatic pictures. Which, being very selfish, is always a bonus. A couple more pictures of flooded areas in Oxfordshire are also included in these galleries.



(7)  THE FARNE ISLANDS
The Farne Islands, now in the care of the National Trust are well known in the UK, both for their history and wildlife. Regarding the latter these islands are renowned for the populations of puffins and seals, plus around 100,000 or more other seabirds. Perhaps not better known is that St Cuthbert, it seems, spent over ten years living on Inner Farne as a hermit .

One of our most famous 'Saints' Cuthbert was a monk and indeed a bishop before becoming a hermit, and was involved in establishing the monasteries at Melrose and on Holy Island (Lindisfarne) just a few miles NW. It appears he died on the Farne Islands on the 20th March 687.



(8)  KEW GARDENS
This is one of the rare pictures, in this collection, taken from an airliner - in this case on the approach to HEATHROW. Always tricky of course, but reasonably sharp. However, well worth including as Kew Gardens is an UNESCO world heritage site site, and, according to some sources; "The largest and most diverse botanical and mycological collection in the world."  It was opened in 1759.



(9)  GLEN MORISTON
This picture in Gallery Seven, and another in Gallery Thirteen, have been selected to simply illustrate that when flying around western Scotland, and surrounded by the most magnificent views, every now and again you can look down and see something utterley delightful - just a small detail - but so lovely. Just twists in the river in these examples, but as they often say in the film industry when they don't need vast banks of lighting for a scene, "Lit by God".




(10)  THE PIER IN DEAL, KENT
In the 19th century virtually every major seaside resort had to boast a pier, sometimes up to three piers. Over the years these enterprises suffered a range of mishaps, and many fell into decline. It was so nice, flying past in 2001 at least, to see that the rather modest pier in Deal appears to have survived.



(11)  THE CERNE ABBAS GIANT
Obviously a 'memorial' all red-blooded and highly aggressive Englishmen (possibly wife-beaters too?) can easily identify with, and now protected by the National Trust, it appears rather oddly that nobody can identify its origins - as to when the site was actually constructed. Indeed, it appears that the earliest written reference to it, so far found to date, appears to have been in the 17th century. 

Some think, possibly due to the existence of the rather small 'Trendle' pre-historic earthworks (?) just visible in this picture above the 'Giant', points to it being laid out thousands of years ago. But if so, who kept it maintained? Surely it would soon vanish after a few hundred years if not kept up? 

I suppose it must be wondered about, when tourists first arrived in this region during the Victorian era and the arrival of railways, if expeditions were offered to view the site - smelling salts for the ladies included? 




(12)  SO MANY LOVELY GRAND HOUSES
I wonder if any other country in the world can boast so many grand houses? When flying around the UK, and England especially, there seems to be no end of them, some dating back several centuries. It has of course needs to be remembered that the wealth created to produce such fabulous 'piles' was usually created by the exploitation of 'common' peoples, not only in the UK but throughout the British Empire, especially during the Victorian era.

In more recent years the balance in the UK has changed quite substantially, and the ownership of these properties no longer rests mainly with the traditional British families having considerable wealth. Many have been given over the the National Trust, others have been taking over by large companies as regional HQs, and many have been brought by foreign investors both for corporate purposes, such as use for hotels, or simply as sumptuous residences.  

If anybody can kindly offer advice on identifying individual sites, this will be much appreciated.



(13)  THE ISLE OF WIGHT FERRY SERVICES
It may well seem surprising for such a small island, but the Isle of Wight has three Ro-Ro ferry ports, all on the north side of the island of course. In the west there is Yarmouth served from Lymington, further east is Cowes served from Southampton, and further east is Fishbourne served from Portsmouth. There is also a passenger hovercraft service from Southsea (Portsmouth) to Ryde.

From over forty years of experience, catching ferries from across the Baltic in Scandiwegia, to Crete in Greece, I think I am correct in saying that, mile for mile, these are the most expensive ferry crossings in Europe, and quite possibly throughout the world? And therefore a disgraceful situation which nobody seems eager to address. But of course, in a free market, demand obviously dictates the fares.



(14)  MILTON KEYNES
Needless to say, when producing this article, there is a great temptation to search out only the most scenic and picturesque views our island has to offer - but this will only produce a false impression. So, I decided to include just a few pictures giving a slightly more balanced view. The article is, after all, called the 'View from above'.

Ever since the 1960s, most towns and cities in Great Britain, (England, Wales and Scotland - Northern Ireland isn't in Great Britain of course - but part of the UK), have seen an increasing amount of housing development. Invariably this has been roughly along the lines seen here, especially in England; consisting of mostly semi-detached houses (?) and to a large extent mostly looking identically similar - known as urban sprawl. Often referred to, rather unkindly perhaps, as a "blight upon the landscape".

Developers simply love this idea. Relatively easy, cheap and quick to build, it ticks all their boxes. But, there have been pockets of resistance. Poundbury just west of Dorchester in Dorset being a fine example of an attempt to recreate a quasi-Edwardian/Georgian town, and, at face value at least, it looks very nice indeed. Obviously inner city developments, such as Docklands in east London and Salford in Manchester have sought to find a much denser form of desirable modern living for the residents. Plus of course, the rejuvination of older Victorian grand terraces and indeed defunct industrial premises, have been something of a revelation.

However, there is some good news. When so many are complaining that England especially must now be so densely populated and nearly full of housing it cannot cope anymore, I always enjoyed taking people who had never been up in a light aircraft. As often as not I heard remarks along the lines of  - "Where have all the houses gone?" And this was mostly around the Home Counties! The answer is obvious, houses are built next to roads, and if only driving around, it can easily give the impression that England especially is densely populated. In fact a totally false impression.

For comparison fly around, at low level, the east and north of Belgium, and most of The Netherlands - especially the Holland part. Or, fly along the coast from Cannes in France to Livorno in Italy and really see what high density living is all about. I have been tempted to call it the largest 'city' on earth.



(15) DOVER
I have been crossing the Channel from Dover, (and on many if not most ferry routes from the UK to Europe), for over half a century - and by heck has it changed - especially from the point of view of driving a truck. In the early days, until around 1990, all trucks had to submit Customs documentation being processed, and this often took many hours. Today (2017) only those trucks travelling outside the EU, to countries such as Norway and Switzerland and beyond, need to go through this process.

Therefore, it suddenly became possible to enter Dover in a truck, and quite often be on a ferry within less than an hour or so, often sooner. The port authorities and the ferry companies rose to the challenge and without any doubt the sheer efficiency of handling the ever increasing volume of trucks has led to the Dover/Calais and Dover/Dunkerque ferry operations being by far the most efficient in the world.

In 2017 a very small majority of people in the UK voted in a referendum to reintroduce these regulations. Quite why seems utter madness, and of course it cannot be coped with, leading to a massive disruption in the supply chain keeping the UK functioning, But of course, generally speaking, having no idea of reality has never prevented the population of the UK from having an opinion.

Our politicians of course say we can easily negotiate a singular, indeed unique arrangement with the EU to by-pass this problem. This is fantasy. If the Swiss couldn't manage it - what chance do we have? This is a matter of global international agreements for the Customs procedures required for imports and exports. 


HERE ARE SOME FIGURES TO PONDER
In 2017 the figures available were for 2016. Dover handled 2,179,331 cars, 87,023 coaches and 2,591,286 trucks. Just think about it - over two million trucks - often over 7000 a day. To illustrate what this means, if you take just 6000 trucks and park them nose-to-tail, the queue would reach, in a straight line, from Dover to Heathrow airport west of London. 

About 90% of these trucks were of maximum weight and size and, roughly 90% were of foreign origin. In other words the UK, under a deliberate series of government policies over many years, have handed over almost complete control of our supply chain to foreign companies. 

Just up the road, near Folkestone, the Channel Tunnel handled, in 2016, 1,641,638 trucks - just over half the amount handled by Dover. By comparison for the disfunctional idiots thinking that rail is still the way forward, only 1,797 freight trains passed through the tunnels. Figures published reveal that 21.3 million tonnes of freight by trucks were carried, against 1.04 million tonnes by rail. The proportion of foreign trucks will be virtually the same as those using Dover.

These notes were written the day after the General Election in June 2017 when the Prime Minister was very clearly regarded as being unsuitable to rule the UK, and just days before the detailed negotiations to leave the EU commenced. One comedy programme on the radio announced - "The level of the English Channel rose by six inches after Europeans all pissed themselves laughing hearing the election results."


JUST A SMALL COMMENT
When I was first catching ferries in Dover so many years ago, if somebody had suggested that one day cruise liners would be calling in, I would have regarded them as being barking mad. And indeed I still regard the prospect as being tantamount to stupidity. Why on earth would a cruise liner dock in Dover? But, as this picture shows, they were arriving and still are. 



(16)  BRIGHTON PAVILION  (ROYAL PAVILION)
Without too much doubt, this building started in 1786 by George, then Prince of Wales, is now one of the iconic buildings within the UK, and quite fabulous to view, inside and out. Along the way four highly esteemed architects were employed before it was finished - John Nash, Henry Holland, Augustus Pugin and William Porden.

It was of course a celebration of excessive vanity, totally egocentric ambition, and flamboyant excess in equal measure, and it appears access to almost unlimited funds to pursue this project. The history is well worth reading, and to put it crudely it was a 'knocking shop' par execellence for the then Prince of Wales.

Is not astonishing how history pans out? A couple of centuries later the general public, including this author, can wander around and marvel at what was created. 



(17)  GOLF COURSES
The English especially, followed by the Scots, have developed a passion for playing golf which is possibly without equal in any other country? It really is astonishing when flying over England, especially the southern half, to see just how many facilities for playing golf exist.

The reason for including this picture is that I was struck by a certain similarity the patterns have, albiet in an abstract pattern in this case, with the kind of large 'images' people have had in the past for making their mark on our landscape. Probably, no doubt without deliberate design in this case, but of course seen from the air, having an affinity of a kind.



(18) THE LAKE DISTRICT
So many people love to bang on about the delights of the Lake District, which are many of course. What they mostly don't mention, as this picture clearly shows in September when most of England was having mostly very good weather, is that the Lake District invariably suffers from particularly poor weather, even in the summer, due to prevailing sou-westerly winds blowing a moist air flow from the Atlantic.

This said, as this picture also illustrates, if suitably equipped to deal with these conditions, (with survival clothing and equipment), the most fabulous combinations of hills and skies can be witnessed.



(19) 'DEVICE' FORTS
Three Device forts, also known as Artillery forts and Henrician castles were constructed by order of Henry VIII in the mid sixteenth century, along this stretch of coast alone. Walmer castle and Deal castle survive almost intact but nearby Sandown  castle is a barely recognisable ruin.

After Henry VIII forced the seperation of his Kingdom from Catholicism, he greatly feared feared reprisals from the Holy Roman Empire, suspecting that an invasion would probably be launched from France. To counter this threat he ordered thirty forts, a few just blockhouses, to be constructed. Twenty nine of these ranged from Yarmouth in Suffolk around the south coast to Cornwall. The thirtieth was built in Milford Haven, Pembrokeshire, in south Wales.

Incredibly, even though advances in military armaments made them fairly quickly redundant, (although some were modified), many of them still survive in fine condition today due to restoration. And indeed, Walmer Castle is the official residence of the Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports.


(20) THE CINQUE PORTS
Sandwich was one of the original 'Cinque' ports, (cinque being French for five of course), set up by Royal Charter in 1155 to maintain ships ready to serve the Crown for a limited period each year in return for some quite generous privileges. The other four being; Dover, Hastings, Hythe and New Romney. New Romney quickly silted up and was replaced by Rye. This coastline tends to move around a bit over the centuries, and indeed, Sandwich is now 3km from the sea.

Typically, in English history, nothing is straightforward and the original Cinque ports also included two towns, Rye and Winchelsea. These members of the Confederation also had associated towns allied to the cause, known as 'Limbs'. These were Brightlingsea, Deal, Faversham, Folkestone, Lydd, Margate, Ramsgate and Tenterden. Plus another twenty three towns and villages in a more subsidiary role.


THE 'SARNIE' OR SANDWICH
I suspect that very few people today, around the world, have heard of the Cinque Ports. But I'll bet they know all about the sandwich, a snack with a filling between two slices of bread. Here again the more you look into the subject the murkier the exact circumstances become. But, it still emerges that the original popular snack of the period, a slice of salt beef between two slices of toasted bread, somehow became associated with John Montagu (1718 - 1992) the 4th Earl of Sandwich. 



(21) URBAN SPRAWL - SELSEY
This is just one example of how the south coast of England, from Hastings in the east to Bournemouth in the west, has been utterly devastated by almost totally uncontrolled housing developments, cheek by jowel most of the way, and resulting in one of the most uninspired, tedious and very worst examples of urban sprawl to be found in the UK. Try driving this coastal route, as I have done, and I doubt you not end up feeling very depressed.

By comparison, drive the coastal route across the Channel in France. What a fantastic job they have made of their coastline. The French of course have had similar problems with the demand for high density housing along their northern coastline, but have arrived at a very different solution, keeping their developments back from the coast, and preserving their old towns.



(22) CUMBRIAN COASTLINE
I have included this picture simply to illustrate to those unfamiliar with light aircraft, the kind of environment these pictures were taken in. In this case a Cessna 172 which is my favourite, as it offers a relatively wide view with a high wing to provide shelter from the sun - especially useful if the right-hand window doesn't open as it helps reduce the amount of reflection on the perspex. Always a challenge in a low wing aircraft unless in the left hand seat and able to shoot through the tiny DV (Direct Vision) window often installed for the pilot to use. I should mention that I had asked my very good friend James Roland to hunch forward over the controls as far as possible to take this picture.

As a general rule, shooting through perspex, you need to get the camera lens parallel to and as close as possible - (ideally about 2 to 3mm), but definitely not touching as the vibration from the engine and propeller will almost certainly result in a blurred image. This can be very challenging in turbulent conditions, and a few minor bruises around the 'viewfinder' eye often results. The main occupation being to make sure that the hand, firmly cupping the lens, prevents any contact with the perspex. Plus of course, needless to say, trying to compose the picture, making sure the exposure setting is fast enough, but not too fast.

And, to make sure that the aeroplane is in the best position to get the best shot, or shots. With a very good, but still a limited field of view, typically in a Cessna 172 the wing, strut and the undercarriage needs to be eliminated from the pcture, and this can result in the aircraft needing to be cross-controlled and flying 'skew-wiff', and out of balance. This takes a lot of practice and quite often, even with instructors, I needed to set the aeroplane up whilst mostly looking through the camera, and then ask them to hold the attitude whilst I took the picture.

I was most certainly rewarded when, on a few occassions, the instructor informed me, after landing, that the sortie had been the most demanding flying he had ever experienced. I was very lucky of course to have been tutored by some exceptional professional pilots, but especially by Austin J Brown, a very good friend and ATPL when I first met him, owner of the Aviation Picture Library and, for many years, Chief Photographer for FLYER magazine.



(23) STEAM AND SMOKE
It has of course long been recognised that the majority of people engaged in reporting for the popular press and media, and those employed by them to take film and pictures, are of a very low calibre - barely educated as often as not it would seem. Over the years I have often been amazed that, when reporting on industrial pollution for example, the majority of them cannot even tell the difference between smoke from steam. And, because steam invariably makes a better and more dramatic picture, they invariably choose steam to illustrate an item on smoke pollution.

I don't expect any of them will ever see these pictures, (more's the pity), but the picture in Gallery Six shows smoke, the picture in Gallery Thirteen shows steam. The difference between the two is clearly evident. Steam produced in industry tends to be of a larger volume initially, but soon dissipates as it evaporates. Large amounts of smoke on the other hand can be seen, especially when flying at low level, to still be visible over a much larger distance, and of course the pollutants can be spread over a vast area long after the visible signs have dissipated from view.  



(24) THE STADE, OLD HASTINGS
There are two unique features in this picture, for the UK. The first and most obvious is that the beach-launched fishing fleet is by far the largest in the UK. Most unusual of course for not having a secure port with robust sea walls defending the boats from the elements. Today the boats are towed up onto the shingle, well away from the shoreline, using a combination of winches and small tracked tractors.

For the second unique feature; if you look closer you will see a number (roughly fifty) of small in area, but quite tall dark structures. These are 'Fishing Huts' or 'Net Huts'. These evolved in the 16th century and many were built on 'stilts' to allow the sea to flow beneath, and the idea was to keep fishing nets dry when not in use. Then made of natural materials, the nets quickly degraded if kept constantly wet. With space being very limited in those days, the only option was to build upwards.

Obviously many if not all have been rebuilt over the centuries, and when the groynes were built in the Victorian era along the Hastings sea front, an added sea defence was produced, making these buildings obsolete to some extent, but the tradition continued. Since the 1980s (or thereabouts) they have acquired listed building status.



(25) WEST WYCOMBE PARK
This was the home of Sir Francis Dashwood (1708 to 1781), founder of the infamous The Hell Fire Club in around 1755. Initially meetings were held on an island in the river Thames at Medmenham, but later they transferred to a series of caves cut out of a chalk hill just to the north, and commissioned by Sir Francis specifically for these purposes.

Certainly not a suitable subject for puritans, broader minded people should enjoy researching the subject - if they haven't done so already. 



(26) TILBURY DOCKS
The first docks in this area, roughly twenty miles east of the City of London, were opened in 1886 and further expansion was completed in the early 1920s. However, the modern port seen in this picture (taken in late 1995) was completed in the 1960s. Basically a commercial port handling freight, some passenger services were also handled from the 1960s. For example, some 'ten-bob' (ten shillings in old money) assisted passage emigrants departed from Tilbury to a new life in Australia.  

Many Aussies did not welcome them and indeed stories are told of the new arrivals being proffered a 'ten-bob' note with the advice; "Right mate, here's ten bob, now f**k off home." In fact many could not stand the combination of animosity and the heat etc, and did indeed 'come home'.

Today, incredible though it may seem, cruise liners call in. Just what impressions first time visitors to England have, arriving here to sample the delights of London, can only be imagined. Presumably they are whisked away pretty sharply to then enjoy endless views of the charming industrial facilities, huge areas of warehouses, council housing estates, plus numerous wastelands along the A13. 



(27) NORFOLK BROADS
This picture was taken by the late Austin J Brown, in those days a very good friend, owner of the Aviation Picture Library and Chief Photographer for Flyer magazine. My log book shows that, taking-off from TOP FARM in the Cessna 172 G-BPVY on the 1st December 1992, that Aussie was the PIC (Pilot in Command). Therefore I was along to provide 'handle-bar' management of the controls whilst he was taking the pictures.

It must be pointed out that, for most private pilots trained to fly from the left-hand seat in aircraft with a side-by-side arrangement, taking control from the right-hand side is, initially, quite a challenge. And indeed, many never get to experience this. However, by that stage I was definitely getting to grips with handling this situation, mostly due to Aussie mentoring and encouraging me. And, when flying with instructors later on, several have commented that aerial photography with me has been the most demanding flying they have ever encountered.

Generally speaking this is a role that flying instructors are trained in; but it did later pay off when an inexperienced but qualified pilot seemed to lose the plot, and asked me to land the aeroplane. Which I did without feeling any undue stress at all.



 



 






 

                                                

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