15 October 2011


As regular visitors may remember, I am on a mission to photograph all of Sheffield and its environs - every square kilometre. In yesterday afternoon's lovely autumn sunshine, I found myself walking near the tiny Derbyshire hamlet of Unthank.

Setting off towards the woods on a public right of way that skirts a cow pasture, I stopped to take this picture of Unthank Hall Farm:-
No sooner had I taken the picture than a voice emerged from the other side of the field. It was a woman with a bucket.

"Excuse me. What are you doing?"
"I'm going for a walk on a public path!" I replied. "What are you doing?"
"Me? I live here! What are you taking pictures for?"
"Because I want to. Okay?" I yelled back.

Then I continued with my walk. I am very aware of country people's sensitivities and I have come across other country dwellers who clearly appear to resent ramblers. I went into Meekfield Wood and out the other side to another chocolate box lid hamlet called Moorhall. I thought of Earl John Gray of "Going Gently" when I snapped this picture:-
But I think the best picture I took was of a lonesome hawthorn tree in Meek Fields looking back to Moorhall:-
After an hour I got back to the car in Unthank. A mucky old 4x4 vehicle was nosing out of a driveway. The driver got out - a rotund fellow in his forties. Let's call him Farmer Giles. Here's the conversation that followed:-

FARMER GILES Excuse me. What are you taking photos for?
ME Because I want to. I like taking photos of the countryside.
FARMER GILES My wife tells me you took a picture of my brother's farm.
ME You mean that old farm across the fields up there?
FARMER GILES Yes that one.
ME That's right. I did take a photo of it.
FARMER GILES Well my brother wouldn't like it.
ME. Well that's tough. I'm a law abiding citizen out on a country walk and I fancied taking a few photos. As far as I know there's no law against that.
FARMER GILES Where are you from?
ME I am from Sheffield as it happens. Where are you from?
FARMER GILES Me? I'm from here! (raising his voice) What are you asking that for?
ME I was just being polite. I've told you where I'm from so I just thought I'd keep the conversation going.
FARMER GILES Well don't come here again taking photos of our village.
ME This is a free country and I'll come as often as I want.
FARMER'S WIFE (Getting out of vehicle) We've had some burglaries here.
ME Well I can assure you that I am not a burglar. I'm just somebody who loves the countryside minding my own business, taking a few innocent photos.
FARMER GILES How'd you like people taking pictures of your house?
ME I wouldn't mind in the least and besides the picture I took of that farm must have been from fifty metres away. I don't know what your problem is.
FARMER GILES (Getting back in the 4x4) Well don't take pictures of our houses again!
ME See you mate! (The mucky vehicle zooms off down the lane)

I was quite proud of myself for staying cool and sticking to my guns. Perhaps I should send the script to the creators of BBC Radio 4's long-running tale of country life - "The Archers". I can see now why "Unthank" is so called and why the path to the woods seemed so untrodden.


  1. well Pud
    come on over to mine and you can snap away all you like!!!!!!
    )I'll even thow in a few photogenic turkeys too!

  2. I can't believe how many people think they can stop you taking photos of their property.

    It's to stop terrorists you know..... Aaaaaargh!

  3. You British are so civilized, even when you argue. I'm afraid an unwelcome person here would not fare so well. Hikers are usually exempt, though, not being able to pack a TV or other big electronics in a day pack. As a (modest) landowner, I like it when someone knocks on my door and asks permission. Have you tried that, or do you prefer being scrappy?

  4. How dare you take photos! Don't you know you can steal the soul of a farm? It gets trapped inside the box and can't get out again without a special incantation. Goodness knows how many souls you have stolen already!

  5. Oh dear, what a shame. I love the public footpaths, bridleways and walks that are everywhere over there. It's one of our greatest pleasures when we visit and we've always been greeted, no, welcomed, when we've hesitated to walk through a farmyard when the sign indicated the way. Of course I guess it can have its drawbacks if it is your property people are walking through ... but taking photos from a footpath would seem pretty innocent to me.
    I'm with you on the name of the village. It would put me off living there and you'd never move there if you met the neighbours would you? You showed them up with your cool good manners YP. Well done.

  6. I'd like to say something about that photo-taking business and the response from Farmer Giles. However I don't quite know where to start and I do know that once I got started I wouldn't know where to stop.
    More photos Pudding please.
    Ms Soup.

  7. You should live over here, YP, where the road from A to B not infrequently leads through someone's farmyard (or maybe we just took the wrong turning). Understandable that they would be wary of possible burglars, especially if they are in an isolated position but it must have been pretty obvious that you did not fall into that category. You weren't wearing that striped pullover and facemask again. were you?

  8. It was probably the Google Street View logo on your car that promted such an Unthank unwelcome.

  9. In my part of the world the urban areas have "neighborhood watch groups" to take note of anything unusual and the rural areas have signs posted that say, "Trespassers will be shot. Survivors will be shot again."

    In some odd way, I find myself siding with the photographed. Is there no "right to privacy"? Or at least an exchange of filthy lucre required for the privilege of publishing a photograph, especially one with people in it?

    I'm being extreme, I know, but still....

    I don't expect you collectivists to agree.

  10. JOHN GRAY Okay. To create drama will you please dress like Benny from "Crossroads"?
    MORNING AJ I think close-up pictures are unacceptable but from fifty metres I don't think anyone should have any cause for complaint.
    JAN B If I'm on a public right of way I shouldn't have to seek any kind of permission.
    KATHERINE I have made a voodoo Farmer Giles doll and am now using it as a pin cushion.
    HELEN In general, English country people I meet are friendly and accommodating. I was born and spent the first eighteen years of my life in what was then a small farming village and I am very friendly and accommodating - especially to passing Australian hikers.
    Ms ALPHBET SOUP I'm not sure where you sit with regard to the taking photos in the countryside debate.
    SHOOTING PARROTS The last Streetview van that went to Unthank was blasted by Farmer Giles and his brother brandishing twelve bore shotguns. The driver is officially listed as "disappeared".
    RHYMES WITH PLAGUE I respect your slightly opposing view but may I say that at no time was I trespassing and I wasn't taking close-up pictures through any windows. However, if I ever visit Canton, Georgia be sure to close your curtains!

  11. Have you tried blowing up (as in photos, not explosives) the afore-mentioned photo and checking out through the upstairs window just what that farmer was up to ?
    Says Brian, hastily wiping the photos of Buckingham Palace off my hard drive before I get the corgis set on me ....

  12. Aha! I knew it! I tracked you down, you scallawag. A photo of my brother's farm on your blog is preposterous, I tell you. I'll thank you to take it down, immediately. Wait a minute; I'll unthank you to take it down. That's right. And then, here comes a punch in the old yob. --Farmer Giles

    P.S. I must admit, the photos are nice.


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