Memento Mori

January 23rd, 2012
Gwyn Headley

by Gwyn Headley

Managing Director

fotoLibra photographer Peter Bardsley enjoys visiting dive sites in England, unlike me. I refuse to enter the water unless I’m south of the 30th parallel. Recently he uploaded this atmospheric image of Hodge Close Quarry, an abandoned flooded slate mine in the Lake District, to fotoLibra:

Icy cold and 150 feet deep, with a viz of about 30 feet, it’s the sort of bleak,miserable and frankly terrifying dive hole so beloved of the British diver. My diving preference consists of floating among the pretty coloured fishies at about 10 metres then surfacing to chug copious quantities of decompression juice in the sun.

But places like Hodge Close Quarry exert a manic pull on the typical British diver.  The Italians have one aim in diving: that is to get as deep as possible as quickly as possible, then erupt back up through the surface like a rocket and spend the rest of their vacation in a hyperbaric chamber, whereas the thoughtful, contemplative Englishman prefers to drift through mazes of freezing unlit underwater tunnels and drown quietly at the back.

There have been many diving deaths at Hodge Close Quarry. The old mine workings, the adits and galleries to be found deep underwater are an irresistible lure to English divers. If only they’d take time to pay attention to their surroundings before they softly slip under the surface for the last time. Might they not notice some sort of a warning? Just turn the photograph on its side:


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37 Responses to “Memento Mori”

  1. Bromley Cawood. says:

    Eerie to say the least! It would be interesting to hear from Peter, was he aware of this when he submitted the image?

  2. Nick Jenkins says:

    That is decidedly unsettling!!

  3. Chris Clark says:

    very spooky indeed

  4. nisha says:

    oooops!!!! it’s unbelievable !!!!!

  5. Stephen Caplin says:

    Impressive, but I will leaves this to the more adventuresome. I pass.

  6. David Stout says:

    The words grim and reaper come to mind! you certainly take dedication to the limit.

  7. Well-caught – and seen – reflection.

    Great post too – love the analysis of differing diving techniques and preferences from around the globe! I’m British too, but having begun my diving in Cairns, I would never get my toes wet if the water temp. was below 30°C and the visibility less than a football pitch!

  8. Rajiv says:

    What a “freako” capture….its brilliant. Surreal but Natural. Its JUST AWSOME……someone needs to send this to NATGEO…..fotoLIBRA please do the needful!!

  9. Zephyr says:

    This is a marvelously atmospheric post! I loved the gallows humor, as well. A spine-tingling creep out! Well done, and thank you!

  10. Sarah says:

    Spooky! I have a similar shot taken in Hawaaii. didn’t half give me a shock the first time I put it on screen

  11. Shack says:

    Love the photo. It is nature at her best. I have been a diver since 1972 and a AOWI instructor since 1983. It still amazes me what some people will do underwater. The one thing that is said over an over in class, is that “you do not do cave diving until you have been trained in cave diving and then only with an experience diver with the proper equipment including safety lines for finding your way back out.” “In Scuba Diving you follow the rules to the letter or you DIE!” It is just that simple.

  12. Mike Reed says:

    It certainly is an eerie picture, like Gwyn I would prefer warmer climates, I must admit potho;ing and caving have never appealed to me, Mike Reed

  13. John Austin says:

    As with previuos comments this is a decidedly eerie pic. it’s a good job you have to turn it to see it, otherwise I don’t think it would have been taken.

  14. Nicolette says:

    Wow! Amazing photograph!

  15. Roger Downham says:

    This image was the subject of an article in the Daily Mail

    in early December last year.

    Did the Mail get it from fL?

    • Gwyn Headley says:

      Alas, the photographer himself sold it to the Mail. At least he got paid, even if we didn’t! He uploaded the images to fotoLibra afterwards.

  16. Philippa Wood says:

    It will make a terrific book cover.

    • Nicolas says:

      That is a great photo!

      I like cave diving and like anything, if you are trained properly and have safety back-ups set up then this should minimize the risk.

      Of course this is a specialized course, and Professional Dive Instructors and Divemasters that know these caves are the ones to show you the way.

      It is usually the adventurous diver with little or no experience that kills either himself or his buddy.

      Having said all of that, I prefer diving in the nice warm undersea caves off of the island of Saipan in Micronesia where I live, occasionally.

      Hope all of you have a Blessed New Year!


  17. Paul says:

    Iv dived this site it’s not as scary as it looks but it’s hard work getting your kit to and from the waters edge, what this picture dosnt show you is the cave system under the water at 26m below enter at your own risk and the only light is what you take in with you

  18. Gary Rayner says:

    At first look I thought it was an underwater shot of a skull on the bottom of a pool, quiet relieved to see its a scenic shot. It does look eerie though

  19. John Cleare says:

    Now THAT is intriguing !
    There’s a sort of Brueghel-ish flavour ?
    I wonder what other images can be made as telling as this one, simply by flipping …?
    Obviously it helps to have a good reflection though it can ‘t be essential…

    Perhaps I should find time to go through my files while lying on my side.

  20. Bob Raftopoulos says:

    That is completely freaky! However being fairly adept in Photoshop it appears that half of the skull might have initially been present and it was copied and flipped to create a full skull.

    Sorry to be a damp squib!

    • CSACscott says:

      The first time I saw the image I was looking at the back of the camera that took the photo. I don’t think Photoshop was installed on the Camera at the time. I think you insult the photographer suggesting that the image is made using Photoshop. Shame on the damp squib!

  21. Mike Mumford says:

    Symmetry of mind and recognition of all images is a very early gift we are born with.
    Humans instantly put ink stains or tea leafs together trying to find something they can relate to.
    Your example of mirror like water reflecting a symmetric shape completes this whole picture.
    That is why our landscapes look so much better having been reflected in your mind’s eye.

  22. J. says:

    Great photo. And well observed on spotting natures hidden message.

    It would be even more atmpospheric without the great big photolibra logo across the middle though.

    Why are people so paranoid about missing a sale that they would never have anyway that they will always preclude the viewing pleasure of everyone else on the vanishingly small chance that just one punk in 2.759822 million will not get to use the image uinlawfully. Nine million times out of ten he’ll never see the image anyway.

    In the context of a fotolibra blog entry, with a tiny jpeg at the print resolution of one eighth of a postage stamp, is this not a trifle obsessive?

    • Rajiv says:

      I completely agree with that!!!

      • Gwyn Headley says:

        It was dragged as a Preview straight from the fotoLibra site. If someone wants to buy the picture, that’s where it can be found. I’m sure you’d want your own images to be protected through visual and digital watermarking. The internet is moving on from the days of torrents and free content. We’ll show off stuff, but if you want it, you’ll have to pay for it. No more Mr Nice Guy!

        • J says:

          “I’m sure you’d want your own images to be protected through visual and digital watermarking.”

          No. Don’t use ’em, never will, and frankly if someone steals an image of mine, it’s likely a sale I never would have had so I really don’t care. I have had images of mine used without permission for non profit purposes and to be honest, I’m flattered. Life’s to short to worry about it mate.

          Each to his own I suppose.

  23. Dave Turnbull says:

    Lovely / great I will look at Blog regular now !!!!!!!!!!!!!

  24. Jo says:

    Theres nice!

  25. Gwyn Headley says:

    Well I’m an old cynic myself, and my first reaction would be disbelief. But just click on the image to be taken to the fotoLibra site, then click on “Find Similar”.
    You’ll see a different angle of the same shot, and the elements that go to make up the skull. It looks real enough to me.

    • CSACscott says:

      For all you unbelievers in the world, here is my advice. Go to Hodge Close and see the image for yourselves.

  26. Majestically wonderful image, and creepy.

  27. vernon says:


  28. Mike says:

    That is so awesome,pure Majic,let everyone share the exprence,well done.