Two Days in the Snow in Dolton, Devon

Last January, when the snow was falling thick and fast in North Devon, Karin Hewlett stepped out with her camera to record the transformation of the village of Dolton where she lives

I will never forget that Thursday morning early in January 2010 when I woke up at 6am and looked out of the window. Everything was covered in a crisp white blanket. I got dressed quickly. I had noticed the night before that it started to snow when I went to bed, but I could hardly believe that it had snowed all night. With my snow boots on, warm hat, gloves and an umbrella (it was still snowing heavily), I took my Nikon D200 camera and heavy tripod, and trudged out into the snow.

I had to set the camera on a tripod as I needed a long exposure to capture the atmosphere.

A little later, when the light got brighter, I walked down West Lane. This little road, which leads from the centre of our village down to Halsdon Nature Reserve, was especially magical. I took a couple of pictures of the canopy of trees weighed down with virgin snow and suffused by the light of a street lamp. It had the feeling of tranquillity, peace and harmony.

I went on down Cleve Hill where the landscape was painted just in black and white. Even though I used colour film, the photos only show the world in monochrome. The starlings in the trees added a slightly sinister touch. Only one man walking up the path later brought back some colour and made it feel less isolated.

After being out for over two hours, I had to go home for some well-deserved hot porridge. And afterwards I was ready again to capture more of the unexpected pleasure of having snow in our North Devon village. It transformed a more ordinary place into something special and exciting, something we will always remember. The snow was slowly melting but it was nevertheless a different world, and children came out with their toboggans and enjoyed this new experience.

All that day and the next I was out taking pictures around the village. It was exciting, and each day I went home late in the afternoon very tired but happy.

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This is the first of a series showcasing some of he images of Karen’s year-long project to record the events in her village on camera.

About me

I started photographing people with my Agfa Box camera when I was 13. I went on to study photography. Since then a lot has changed and I now use a digital camera, which gives one the opportunity to take many more pictures than before. But I still try and make every picture as good as possible and avoid manipulating them.

When my husband died 13 years ago, two of my children moved to Devon. I decided to follow them to this part of the country, a decision that changed my life. I can honestly say that I have never found a nicer place than

Dolton. I have been here five years and don’t want to live anywhere else. The people are the friendliest I have ever met, and the landscape is gorgeous. I consider myself very lucky living in an exquisite part of North Devon amongst such nice people.

Someone said there is a little of the dark side in my pictures. I suppose that is true. I know there is a great suffering in the world but what I am trying to do is celebrate human happiness and the serenity of the landscape. It is an optimistic vision really, an attempt to reflect the beauty that is all around us.

A North Devon Village DVD

Karin documented events in Dolton for a year with her camera. “I captured everything from local events such as village luncheons, the horticultural show, school nativity plays,and the pancake race, to the hunts, shoots, the harvesting, binders and all the wonderful old people who still work the land.

In all I took more than 5,000 images, of which just 1,000 are on the DVD, divided into four seasons.”

Called A North Devon Village, the DVD costs �12, with every penny going towards St Edmund’s church. To buy a copy, contact Karin on or 01805 804287.

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