Location: Bothal

Bothal is a hamlet in Northumberland, situated between Ashington and Morpeth. There are no shops, pubs, cafes, or facilities – just a church, a castle (not open to the public) and lots of prettyness.

Find it here on Streetmap. There is space to park a couple of cars outside the church.

Maple tree beside Bothal Church and War Memorial in November 2008. Canon T90, 24mm lens, Fuji Reala film

Outside St Andrews Church is this amazing maple tree, which produces this bright red foilage in November, around the time of the Remembrance Day service; the war memorial itself becomes wrapped in the branches of the tree. For some reason, I find the colour red in general, and this tree in particular, the most difficult colour to represent accurately, whether on film or with a digital camera.

A detail of the same maple tree in November 2011. Fuji Reala film in a Mamiya RZ67 camera

The churchyard itself is another good feature. Whilst it doesn’t have the exotic statuary of some churchyards, neither does it suffer from the regimented lines of some others. The graves are laid out in an attractive manner which creates interesting views from many points, providing some assistance to the photographer. In May the ground will be covered in wild garlic, and autumn is another highlight.

Inside the chruchyard, May 2011 - Leica Digilux 2
Rollei RPX film in a Canon EOS300 camera, developed in Ilford ID-11
A small stone cross almost covered in wild garlic

The lane outside the church leads behind the castle to the River Wansbeck. Crossing the river are some stepping stones and a footbridge – however there is no right of way over the footbridge. You can however look underneath for some strong lines:

The river itself is worth exploring but you need to walk away from the river to get to the best stretch. Return to the church / war memorial and turn left on the main road. You will see the castle on your left. I don’t find the castle particularly photogenic – although a dusting of snow on the fields in front might help. There’s a photo of it in my article on the Kodak 66 folder. After a few hundred yards, take a left turn where the road goes down hill and then taken a path to the right. You should now be at this point on Streetmap.

There’s a working timber yard to your right and this old mill building to your left:

Bothal old sawmill, Kodak Ektar film and Mamiya RZ67 camera

About 50 yards further on you come to the weir; then it’s just a case of exploring for as long as you want. The footpath follows the river for 2-3 miles to the market town of Morpeth, which has a bus service back to Bothal.

Bothal Weir in November 2008. Canon T90 and Fuji Reala film
A riverside scene from Autumn 2011. Canon EOS300 camera, 105mm lens, and Fuji Reala film
Canon T90 and Fuji Reala film, November 2008

I’ll finish with this scene which I think summarises the restrained attractiveness of the area:

Kodak Ektar film and Mamiya RZ67 camera


  1. Looks a rather nice place. I like the colour in that second shot very much. I’ve used [DxO’s copy of] Fuji Reala a few times and it’s a rather nice film. The churchyard images are very good, especially the small cross nearly hidden by garlic.

    Thanks for this article, I shall add it to my list of places worth visiting in Northumberland.


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