It’s been a great year for everyone at Shropshire and Beyond. The past 12 months have seen the publication of our first book, A Year in Shropshire, plus four Shropshire 2018 calendars and an extensive range of Shropshire greetings cards.
In between all of that, we have been out and about capturing images of this glorious county, so we thought we’d put together our top 20 favourite pictures of 2017.
First up is three Exmoor ponies on the Stiperstones. A whistle from Mike caused the ponies to stop grazing and look down the valley, posing perfectly.
The next shot is of a rainbow over Lawn Hill, which was Mike’s reward after sheltering from the rain under a hawthorn tree for half an hour on the Hollies Nature Reserve.
Another wait - this time of nearly an hour - resulted in the right combination of sunshine and blue sky for image number three (taken by me, John) of the packhorse bridge at Clun surrounded by spring blossom.
We were looking for a new location to photograph bluebells and paid our first visit to Helmeth Hill at Church Stretton. As you can see, we were greeted by a sea of blue flowers.
After a couple of weeks of boring weather I was itching to get out into the landscape and took the chance to head up Caer Caradoc, despite a forecast of rain. My reward was a break in the clouds that produced beautiful light over the Lawley and surrounding countryside.
Next up is image number six, which shows the avenue of beech trees on Linley Hill highlighted by warm evening sunshine. Evening light also plays a role in the next shot, which features the ramparts of Burrow Hill Iron Age hill fort. I was hoping for a good cloud formation - and I wasn’t disappointed.
Image number eight shows how the use of a long lens enabled me to capture a different view of Stokesay Castle, with the Long Mynd seen in the background.
I’ve always wanted to get a shot of hay bales in the beautiful Clun Valley and in July I got my wish, while Mike’s visit to Ludlow Museum provided a good viewpoint of hand-timbered buildings in Broad Street.
Many times I’ve been on Titterstone Clee at sunrise hoping for mist and things haven’t worked out, but image number 11 illustrates a successful trip when the sun cast a lovely red glow over the countryside. A little later on that same morning two sheep posed perfectly for me between rocks looking over Brown Clee. I had to keep calling to them to stop them from wandering off!
Next up is image number 13. I was taking a picture of the Stretton Hills at sunset from the Wrekin, and it was a huge bonus when a hot air balloon appeared and began its descent. It all happened very quickly so I feel very lucky to have captured this shot.
The Stiperstones in August had a spectacular display of purple heather, seen here surrounding Diamond Rock. While Mike was taking this picture, I headed for the Long Mynd and took this a shot of two ponies with a backdrop of the Wrekin, the Lawley and Caer Caradoc.
The ancient yew tree at Church Preen near Wenlock Edge provided a great illustration of autumn colour, while two inquisitive roe deer kept an eye on me at sunrise on Burrow Hill Iron Age hill fort.
A misty shot of Ludlow Castle has been high on my to-do list for a while now, and I was finally able to tick it off with this dawn shot from Whitcliffe in November.
We were also able to make the most of the heavy snowfall earlier this month, and a particular favourite was this shot taken on my way up to the summit of Caer Caradoc, near Church Stretton. I also like the play of light on a snow-covered Attingham Park, near Shrewsbury, which is in the final image in our Shropshire top 20!
Don’t forget that there’s still time to get one of our Shropshire 2018 calendars delivered in time for the start of the New Year. Our Shropshire Hills calendar has sold out, but we still have a few Bridgnorth, Ironbridge and Ludlow calendars remaining.