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Page last updated at 14:07 GMT, Wednesday, 7 October 2009 15:07 UK
Dartmoor snowed under

By Laura Joint
BBC Devon

Moonscape. Photo by Adrian Oakes
Moonscape scene on Dartmoor, pictured in mid-afternoon

For five winters, photographer Adrian Oakes had been getting up before the crack of dawn to capture Dartmoor at its clearest, colourful best.

Adrian, from Exmouth, would don his warm weather gear and pack everything he would need for a day walking on Dartmoor - including an ordnance survey map and compass.

But, despite some chilly days, he hadn't managed to snap that image many of us have of Dartmoor: tors and moorland covered in deep snow. Until February 2009.

Adrian Oakes
Adrian Oakes hopes his photos will inspire people to see Dartmoor in a new light

This was what he'd been waiting for. The results of his five-year project, including many photos from February, can be seen in a book published in October 2009, entitled Dartmoor: A Winter's Tale.

"I was just lucky," Adrian told BBC Devon. "Although I really do sympathise with the people living within Dartmoor who were snowed in for two weeks."

For Adrian, taking photos of the places he loves is something he fits in around his day job as a chiropodist. During the snowfalls, however, he spent many early mornings on Dartmoor, camera in hand.

"I got stuck in my car quite a few times. I know the moor quite well and ventured up as far as I could, but there were parts of Dartmoor I couldn't get to because of the snow, such as Okehampton.

"Sunrise on winter mornings is the best time to photograph Dartmoor, so it might be hard getting out of bed and it might be cold but it is worth it. It's often completely clear at that time.

Tree on Dartmoor
Alone - Adrian says this image shows iconic Dartmoor

"You get the best light and the sun comes up and hits the rocks at low angles.

"But the thing is, you don't actually get much snow. You might get a light dusting but that's all. This was the first time we've had so much heavy snow for about 10 years so I wanted to get up there and photograph it.

"One of the photos, called Alone, is iconic Dartmoor - a lone rowan tree with wonderful light on the surface."

Adrian explored south and east Dartmoor during the heavy snowfalls and was well rewarded: "People say Dartmoor is dark and bleak and barren but it's not always that like. In fact, it can be quite the opposite.

"I've always loved walking on the moor, even before I decided to take my camera with me. Every time I go there I see something new, and it's such a dramatic place.

"I've stood on Kes Tor and watched the clouds over the sea coming towards me. It's like the tide coming in. Within 10 minutes, you are enveloped in mist."

Adrian is entirely self-taught and he hopes his photos will encourage others: "The idea is just to inspire people to get up there and have a look at Dartmoor, to go and explore.

"There are 400 square miles of it and plenty to see. And it's just perfect to photograph."

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