The winning shot of Parkhouse Hill. Photo: Kieran Metcalfe

The winning shot of Parkhouse Hill. Photo: Kieran Metcalfe

A ‘Tolkeinesque’ view of a Peak District hill has been judged top photo in a competition marking the 70th anniversary of the foundation of national parks in England and Wales.

Kieran Metcalfe’s picture of Parkhouse Hill beat almost 1,500 other entries to gain top prize in the contest organised by the Campaign for National Parks and UK National Parks.

Gareth Mon’s photostitch of the Milky Way over Crib Goch on the Snowdon massif was runner-up in the competition.

Mr Metcalfe’s image, entitled The Dragon and the Flame, reflects the popular name for the hill, the Dragon’s Back, south of Buxton, that is the subject of his photograph.

The graphic designer, who lives in Manchester, said: “The shot was taken in November 2018 on a very windy morning on Chrome Hill, looking towards the iconic ridge of Parkhouse Hill.

“There was a lot of very low cloud around and it didn’t look like there was going to be much of a sunrise. However, just after the sun got over the horizon, the cloud started to break and we got a few moments with shafts of light through the murk.

“I’m a freelance graphic designer by trade, based in south Manchester. Landscape photography is a growing passion of mine, not just for the images, but for the excuse to go and sit on a hill, usually in the Peak District, to unwind when self-employment gets stressful.

“Working from home, having somewhere to escape to, is invaluable.”

The Milky Way over the Snowdon massif. Photo: Gareth Mon

The Milky Way over the Snowdon massif. Photo: Gareth Mon

Mr Mon’s second-place picture is the result of an eventually successful attempt at capturing the stars above Snowdonia, and is entitled Never Give Up.

He said: “The Milky Way photo you see here was a mammoth effort.

“After four failed attempts of lugging 35kg worth of camera gear and cooking equipment to get to the top of Snowdon and having clouds hamper my efforts, thick fog appear from nowhere and literally making it impossible to navigate for nearly five hours real scary times.

“On the fifth time in trying to capture the Milky Way arching over the famous knife edge which is Crib Goch I had the conditions that I’d been hoping for: crystal-clear skies as far as the eye could see, making it a moment in time that would last long in the memory.

“The shot you see is 28 individual shots taken to capture the whole of the southern sky to capture the arch of the Milky Way over a friend of mine and then stitching them together to produce this panoramic photo

“Each photo took 15 seconds to shoot so I owe my friend a lot of gratitude for staying still during the best part of nearly a minute.

“I named the photo Never Give Up after the failed attempts and finally capturing this scene.”

Andrew Hall of the Campaign for National Parks, the national charity dedicated to the English and Welsh national parks, said: “Kieran and all the photographers have done an incredible job capturing the glory of the national parks.

“These are diverse, living landscapes with so much going on and that’s been reflected in the diversity of the competition; from pie-eating selfies in the Lake District, to the haunting beauty of caves in the Brecon Beacons.

“70 years on from the act of Parliament that created them, national parks have never been so important. They provide us clean air, peace of mind and stunning beauty. I hope this competition will encourage all to get out and get exploring the national parks.”

Carl Lis, chairman of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority, speaking on behalf of UK National Parks, said: “It has been a fantastic month seeing all the stunning images that people have taken capturing all sorts of special moments in national parks – from birds in flight and riders on the beach, to the Milky Way at night and happy family times.

“People have really got into the spirit of the competition and we would like to thank everyone who took part – it was excruciating choosing our winner and finalists. We would encourage everyone to keep going out snapping, it’s a lovely way to celebrate of the 70th anniversary of the UK’s beautiful national parks.”

Judges shortlisted pictures from a variety of the UK’s national parks, including an owl flying over heather in the Pembrokeshire Coast and mushrooms growing in Loch Lomond and the Trossachs.

The winner will receive a feature spread in the Campaign for National Parks’ membership magazine Viewpoint.

The National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949 laid the ground for the establishment of national parks in England and Wales, with the Peak District the first to be set up in 1951, with the Lake District, Snowdonia and Dartmoor following the same year.

Scotland had to wait until 2002 to see its first national park, Loch Lomond and the Trossachs, with the second, the Cairngorms, established the following year.

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