We were originally expecting several guests this weekend, and we had been planning various activities. More specifically, I had been waiting a photography meet up in Coventry, and had been planning to go to several places where we could take photos together. Unfortunately, due to unforeseen problems they all had to cancel.
Despite the meet up being cancelled, I had always planned an Autumn photography session. This weekend, the weather was forecasted to be excellent.
I set up my alarm clock for 6am in the hopes of catching the sunrise. Unfortunately, I snoozed right through the cacophony and missed sunrise (7.30am)! Undeterred, I voraciously devoured PMS' carefully prepared breakfast and made a packed lunch for myself - tea in a Thermos flask, bread, apples and chocolate. I made my way on foot with full photography gear in tow...
It was a nice autumn day, the sky was bright and blue (unfortunately devoid of interesting cloud formations) and the temperature was a pleasant 11 degrees Celsius. Most of the foliage has turned nice shades of red and ochre (a colour I'm only pretending to know) and I made my way down the path of the Coventry Canal.
The Coventry Canal was built around 200 years ago to transport coal from Coventry to other places in the Midlands. I am ashamed to say that I have been staying in Coventry for almost 2 years now and I only started to know about the existence of the canals 2 weeks ago! My destination was Hawkesbury Junction, also known as the Sutton Soup which is where the Coventry Canal junctions with the Oxford Canal. The distance I had to walk was 5 1/2 miles, one way!
Ask anyone about Coventry, and rarely will you hear anything positive. Coventry is a small city with many industrial estates. The city centre is small and dull because most of the city has been destroyed in the Blitz.
This morning when I first saw the canals, I was astounded by its beauty. The canal was serene, and quietly beautiful in glorious autumn. Apples littered the walkway and the water was mirror-like in its stillness.
Boats could be seen populating the canal landscape, occasionally trudging along at a slow pace scaring away the ducks and swans.
I was surprised to discover as I walked along to see industrial estates dumping water into the canal. The estates seemed a garish contrast to the serenity of the canals, but the reflections they produced in the still waters still caught my eye.
Occasionally, other people could be seen walking along the walkway. Many people were jogging, walking their dogs and seen taking a leisurely family stroll.
Another popular activity seemed to be fishing. Most of the people I met were extremely friendly and would greet me and engage in conversation. Most were happy for their pictures to be taken and would pose accordingly.
Not many people know that the Coventry Canal is host to Britain's longest outdoor art gallery. The award winning trail houses 39 artworks produced by artists and professionals working with the local communities (for example schools and clubs in Coventry). The seat adorned with carvings of fish seen above is one such artwork and is known as the Hawkesbury Lock Seat.
The 5 1/2 mile trail was interspersed with interesting artworks, factoids and exits to local cafe, pubs, parks and places of interest.
After several hours walk, I finally arrived at the Hawkesbury Junction. The junction was much smaller than I had imagined but seemed to be the ganglia where boats gather and leave.
At this junction, I finally had a chance to sit down, and enjoy a quiet picnic alone in a small celebration of my discovery of this place.
All in all, I managed to shoot 500 pictures along the canal and it was a great morning of interesting photographic and self-discovery. All the above pictures were taken using the new circular polarizer, to help control reflections and darken the skies.
I started the 5 1/2 walk back towards home grateful to Allah for my youth, energy, time and being born with adequate facilities that I was able to endure such an arduous physical test yet still being able to enjoy every second of the adventure!
Further reading :
1. The history of the Canal on the BBC website.
2. A list of the various artworks lining the trail including pictures.
3. A detailed history of the Canal by the Coventry Canal Society.
4. A map of the trail (I started at station 5 and finished at 12).
5. How did other photographers see the canal and how do my pictures compare? Photos on Flickr tagged "Coventry Canal". Interesting.