on landscape The online magazine for landscape photographers

Puzzlewood

David Ashcroft

David Ashcroft

I have been interested in photography on and off for many years. Now I have retired I have a little more time to devote to making images. I work mostly in B&W and am currently the Secretary of the Southern Region of the Royal Photographic Society. I hold an ARPS distinction and I am currently working toward my ARPS.



Puzzlewood is located in the beautiful and historic Forest of Dean in Gloucestershire.

The geological features on show at Puzzlewood are known as scowles. Scowles originated through the erosion of natural cave systems formed in the carboniferous limestone many millions of years ago. Uplift and erosion caused the cave system to become exposed at the surface. This was then exploited by Iron Age settlers through to Roman times for the extraction of iron ore. It is usually impossible to date open cast extraction precisely, although ores with a chemical signature consistent with those from the Forest of Dean were certainly used to make tools and weapons in the late prehistoric period.

J.R.R Tolkien was a frequent visitor to the Forest of Dean. Puzzlewood was the inspiration for the forests of Middle-earth in The Lord of the Rings, such as the Old Forest, Mirkwood, Fangorn or Lothlórien.

When The Lord of the Rings was named Britain's favourite book in the "Big Read", Puzzlewood was used by Ray Mears to champion Tolkien's work. Harry Potter author J. K. Rowling has also visited Puzzlewood. The Forbidden Forest within the series bears some similarities to the geography of the area.

Puzzlewood has been used as a location in a number of films and TV series, including Harry Potter, King Arthur. Star Wars, Doctor Who etc.

I was drawn to Puzzle wood by the almost mystical, brooding landscape that has remained largely unchanged over the centuries. The challenge as a photographer is to make sense of the chaos. I chose to work in B&W as I think it adds to the “un-worldliness” of the location.



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