Outside the immediate area around your home and work there can be few places that you have visited hundreds of times. For me the Lynchcombe lookout is one of those places.
As a volunteer warden for the Somerset Wildlife Trust I try to walk around the reserve once a week. The lookout is a key spot as from here you can see most of the reserve.
From the lookout you also have amazing views across the Mendips, passed Crook Peak, Brean Down and on to the Welsh coast on the far side of the Bristol Channel.
Despite this I have always favoured the sycamores at the top of the reserve to watch sunsets. You can see the sycamores in the top right-hand corner of the picture above. Higher up this landmark location has wonderful views across the Somerset Levels.
In contrast the lookout is much further down the hill, but being there it provides a different perspective.
With the forecast looking good for sunsets over the next few days it was time to start a photography project. I wanted to capture a deep red sunset from the lookout all the way across the levels to Exmoor.
Day One: 1 March 2020
First attempt, and it started with some lovely broken clouds filling the sky.
But I had not noticed a big bank of cloud sitting over the Quantock Hills and Exmoor in the distance. This killed any chance of the last rays of light reaching the clouds above the Mendips.
Day Two: 2 March 2020
Second attempt, and a series of interesting shower clouds were coming over from the west.
The Mendip Hills is an AONB because of its dry-stone walls. Lynchcombe has its share, but some like the one below next to the lookout are not in the best condition.
Yet again that bank of cloud was stuck to the horizon. However, enough sun light reached the nearby high clouds.
Distracted from my project I watched the herring gulls gather in the skies as they slowly returned to roost for the night – I’m not sure where they go.
In the distance the world’s largest crane is helping to build another nuclear power station at Hinkley Point. The crane is known as Big Carl and is 250m tall – higher than most of the Mendip Hills.
Day Three: 3 March 2020
Today there was a beautiful clear blue sky. Beautiful, but not the best for sunsets as you need a few high clouds to provide a canvas to the last drops of red light.
That annoying bank of cloud was still there. How can that happen three days in a row when it is so windy?
I watched the sun disappear through a notch in the distant clouds. Then waited a few minutes in the hope that the clouds would turn red.
That was as good as it got on day three.
Day Four: 4 March 2020
Dull grey with not a hint of sun. Stayed at home and watched tele.
Day Five: 5 March 2020
Another day without sun. Bored with tele now.
Day Six: 6 March 2020
Yet another dull day, but the weather forecast for the evening looked favourable, so I took the risk and headed up to the Mendips.
It was the first day since the start of my project that you could see the silhouette of the Quantock Hills on the horizon. There was a big block of cloud sitting between the Mendips and the Quantocks. The cloud base was just higher than the tops of the hills.
This tiny gap could be enough to let the sun shine on the base of the clouds. It becomes a waiting game.
It was not long before I realised that the clouds were too low and the chance of a red sky had gone. However, my luck was in and once the sun sunk below the horizon it illuminated a narrow strip across the Bristol Channel towards Brent Knoll.
It was a bit small without a telephoto lens but in the distance there was a clear view of the Exmoor coast and the single prominent hill of Brent Knoll.
Day Seven: 7 March 2020 [Update]
I did not expect to go up to the lookout today as the rugby was on. But the draw was too strong.
Each day a couple of sheep have watched me waiting for the sun to set from the lookout. So it was time to include them, one ran off.
The nice fluffy clouds towards the west looked promising.
But that bank of stubborn cloud bank was still on the horizon. Soon after this shot the sun disappeared for the day.
May be it’s the weekend flight pattern, but today a couple of trails crossed the sky. They can be really annoying!
This is one my favourite pictures that I took back in 2007 from Lynchcombe. It’s clear from the picture that the sun is setting much further across (more north) than it is at the moment. So I have decided to give the attempts a break for a few weeks – to a time when there is a chance of a sunset over the sea.