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Spirit Of The Carneddau

2023

When I left East Anglia I was in doubt about the scale of the challenge that awaited me in Northern Wales – the trip had been proceeded by several months of research into the areas I was going to work in, the ponies I may encounter, and the best backdrops upon which to tell stories, but no amount of research can guarantee a successful time in the field.

As I have mentioned many times in my career, my diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder means that I have a very vivid imagination and a very intense sensory-experience, which can be a major hinderance in day-to-day life, but a major benefit when it comes to dreaming-up potential compositions. I had a target list of photographs I wanted to capture during the assignment, including a group of ponies together, and I aimed to tick two or three off the list.

My research told me that there were just three-hundred individuals roaming the two-hundred square kilometre Carneddau mountain range, which meant that even with the best advise from the best people on the ground, it was far from certain that I would find one pony, let alone the group I so desperately wanted to see.

Our first three adventures resulted in a couple of sightings – the first a singular pony, and the second a mare with her young foal. But it was the fourth and final trek that resulted in ‘the shot’ of the trip; I had climbed mountains and crossed streams all morning by myself, and then, when I was considering heading back to lower ground, I spotted a small herd of ponies on the peak of a distant mountain.

The adrenalin kicked in immediately, and I trekked towards the foot of mountain, and then began the steep ascent. The view at the top was breath-taking, but the ponies were nervous – it was obvious that this herd had witnessed very few people atop these ridges. I spent the next hour or so laying in the luscious grasses, at a respectful distance, watching those ponies interacting and thriving in the rugged lands they have called home for over two-thousand years, before they began to relax, and then, became inquisitive. Over the next thirty minutes, magic unfolded in front of my eyes and my camera.

When I began the descent two hours later, I knew that I had the photograph I had travelled two- hundred miles to Wales for, I had accomplished my dream atop that mountain, and what a humbling experience it had been to spend time in the company of these most-magical creatures.

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