Writer inspired by beauty of Pennines celebrates its views

THE Pennine hills have inspired artists, writers and poets for centuries.

They provided a brooding backdrop to the Bront sisters' novels, while painters like Ashley Jackson have dedicated their lives to capturing the landscape's intrinsic beauty on canvas.

Writer and photographer John Morrison's new book, Portrait of the Pennines, is the latest in a long line to celebrate this stunning landscape.

His book, which includes more than 150 colour pictures, is a journey through the Pennine hills and valleys, from Derbyshire's White Peak up to Hadrian's Wall, in Northumberland.

Dubbed the "backbone of England", the Pennines possess some of the country's most breathtaking scenery.

"It isn't perhaps as dramatic as the Lake District but I love the Pennines landscape because it tells a story," says Morrison.

"From the Derbyshire Dales right up to Hadrian's Wall, there's this whole history – the Celts and Romans, the lead mines and old paths and trading routes that haven't changed for centuries and are still there today – you can feel history beneath your feet."

His photographs include snapshots of the majestic Ribble Head Viaduct on the Settle-to-Carlisle railway and a fist of weathered rock overlooking Grindsbrook Clough, at the start of the Pennine Way.

Morrison describes his photographs as "emotional landscapes" and says he never tires of exploring the north of England countryside. "My pictures show not just what somewhere looks like, but what it feels like too," he explains.

"I photograph the light, so for me the landscape is inexhaustible and I can go back to the same place and take different pictures."

Born and bred just north of Leeds and a pupil of the former Moorlands School, he has since produced nearly 50 books and provided the evocative photos for the National Park's Official Guide to the Yorkshire Dales. The 57 year-old has been producing books about the north of England for the past 25 years.

"I started off doing travel guides and walking books, I've been writing for longer than I've been doing photography, but the two seemed to go together and I love it because it allows me to go out and see all these wonderful places."

Morrison, who moved to the Lake District a couple of years ago having spent most of his life in Yorkshire, says that Horton-in-Ribblesdale and parts of Swaledale are among his favourite spots.

So has the Pennine landscape changed much in recent years?

"I remember when I started doing photography I did some pictures in Littondale of people working on a farm who were putting hay on to a cart to be taken away. Now it's all done by machines."

But he does not necessarily subscribe to the view that the character is slowly being eroded.

"I know people are often pessimistic about the countryside changing, but you can still walk in the Pennines and find places unspoiled, there's not a McDonald's everywhere you go and there are plenty of places to escape the crowds," he says.

John Morrison's Portrait of the Pennines is published by Halsgrove priced 14.99