Turner’s hills, dales, falls and coast


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From Aysgarth Falls to Whitby and Scarborough

Turner, it could be argued, was one of the first to show people the wonders of the countryside. People started to visit places like Yorkshire and to see the dramatic hills, moorlands and dales as places of beauty and not of desolation. His contemporaries, Wordsworth and Coleridge, wrote poetically about the landscape; Turner painted it.

His long association with Farnley Hall gave him the opportunity to venture on to the moors and capture scenery like Otley Chevin and Beamsley Beacon, some of the first moorland scenes ever painted. Turner also joined shooting parties here with his friend and patron, Fawkes. In 1816, Turner stayed a few days to sketch the magnificent waterfalls, Aysgarth Falls and Hardraw Force. His painting of Hardraw is a distant view with sun streaming through the gorge highlighting the scale of the waterfall.

He loved fishing and probably did this as he sat by the largest natural lake in Yorkshire, Semer water. His sketch of the shimmering lake has majestic mountains in the background. Take time to visit the gritstone outcrops of Plompton Rocks, the moors above Sutton Bank and the limestone gorges such as Gordale Scar that inspired Turner.

He not only painted the hills and dales, but also the rugged coastline. On a coastal trip in 1822 from London to Edinburgh, he stopped off at Hull to paint the mouth of the Humber. Turner would also sit and paint the view of the coast from the boat he was sailing in at the time. This would have given a different perspective to that if he had been sitting on land.

Turner was fascinated by the effects of the light on the sea especially the atmospheric effects of storms and rainbows. His later work would come to focus heavily on seascapes.

His travels took him to Whitby and Scarborough, where he painted several watercolours of the impressive cliffs and stormy seas. He also painted the beaches with people walking along, playing and catching crabs, as well as the workers in the harbours.

Trace Turner's footsteps along the wonderful Yorkshire coast and visit its towns, fishing harbours, hidden coastal coves and spectacular beaches that left a mark on the artist's imagination.