Sunday, 27 March 2011

Somerset – enjoy the scenery!

Beautiful views are a speciality in Somerset – be it iconic ones such as Glastonbury Tor – or landscape delights such as Brean Down.

(Photo: courtesy of Joe Dunckley/

Brean Down is one of the landmarks of the Somerset coastline - jutting out into the Bristol Channel and providing a download setting between Burnham-On-Sea to the south and Weston-super-Mare to the north. It boasts two cafes near the beach, plus a small visitor centre and a bird garden.  The National Trust describe it as “offering magnificent views for miles around, it is rich in wildlife and history; an ideal place to explore. The Palmerston Fort, built 1865, provides a unique insight into Brean's past.” (

The Down is protected by the National Trust and scheduled as a Site of Special Scientific Interest by the Nature Conservancy Council for its exceptional natural history. It is also classed as a Scheduled Ancient Monument by the Department of the Environment for its archaeological remains.

Natural history of Brean Down
The vegetation of the steep, rocky southern slopes and cliffs contrasts with the gentler slopes on the north side where the soil - containing wind-blown sand - is deeper. On the thin limestone, the most noticeable plant flowering in early summer is the rare White Rock Rose. It grows in abundance on Brean Down, at its most northerly world limit, and is only known to exist in two other places in Britain.

(Photo: courtesy of Joe Dunckley/

Other rare plants which grow on Brean Down include the inconspicuous Dwarf Sedge, which flowers in early spring, the late flowering Goldilocks and the Somerset Hair Grass, known only in England in the Mendips. Many well known plants include the grass Sheep's Fescue, plus Wild Thyme, Wood Sage, Salad Burnet, St John's Wort, Field Scabious, Bird's Foot Trefoil and the sping-flowering Cowslips. Shrubs are trees are few and far between because of the strong winds and salt spray, but low-growing Privet, Hawthorn and Elder trees can be seen on the south side.

Butterflies and other insect life are rich on Brean Down. Butterflies regularly seen include the Common Blue, Meadow Brown and the Marbled White, while the Chalkhill Blue, whose caterpillar feeds on Horseshoe Vetch, is less common. Various species of grasshoppers can occasionally be seen, and the Bloody-Nosed Beetle can also be spotted.
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(Photo: courtesy of Joe Dunckley/

Brean Down is just one of many inspirational places appreciated by photographers in Somerset.  Julie, from Julie M Photography, an online shop on Folksy, is one such person.  Here we meet her and she talks about her work.

Please introduce yourself and tell us what brought you to Somerset?

I am Julie and I have had a store in Folksy for a year this month, I am originally from London.
My parents moved us to Somerset in 1975. Dad’s employer relocated, and they thought that it would be a better pace of life in the country.

Tell us about your chosen craft.
I first became interested in photography, because of dad . He had an old bellows camera, and he would take his pictures and develop them in the bathroom.
I began taking a real iinjterest in photography when I started working in a Photographic Laboratory, some twenty years ago.
I am still passionate about photography, hence my shop name.

 As well as selling through your Folksy shop, can your work be found in any other outlets in Somerset?
I have my own web-site www.juliemonkphotography, which I started in order to promote my Pet Portrait business. I started taking photographs of peoples pets after my beautiful German Shepherd Gemma had to be put down.  It is only after their gone that you realise that you haven’t captured the true personality of a loved pet. I also have a shop on Creative Stores, and I sell in the shop where I work.

Where does your inspiration come from?My inspiration comes from all around ,the world in a beautiful place , also I enjoy capturing a picture from a different angle, I love taking close ups because it always seems to give another perspective.
And finally, what's your favourite place in Somerset and why?
Somerset has such wonderful landscapes, it is difficult to think of one that stands out above the rest, but for a diverse day of shooting, I don’t think you can beat Hestercombe Gardens near Taunton.  It is a wonderful place for photography, because it has formal gardens, follys, old buildings, a watermill and landscape shots wherever you look.

To see more of Julie's work, visit and


  1. Have really enjoyed reading this series on your blog !

  2. Thank you for including my rambilings in your excellent series. I have been reading your blog with interest. We have some very talented people in our neck of the woods. Somerset is a beautiful place to live.
    Thanks again.


  3. @ Julie Monk - Definitely not ramblings! Quality photography.

    Glad that both you and ArtyAdz have enjoyed the Somerset series - I've really enjoyed doing it.