PETER BARRON meets a countryside “tearaway” who grew up to be one of the North’s most in-demand wildlife photographers

AS a boy growing up on the North-East coast, Glenn Kilpatrick spent countless hours exploring the rugged countryside in pursuit of his main hobby of fishing.

Young Glenn also had a childhood fascination for collecting birds’ eggs, though he now appreciates that was a misguided pastime.

Nevertheless, it proved to invaluable experience for how he would go on to make a living – as a photographer.

Having built up an encyclopaedic knowledge of every crook and cranny of the coastline, Glenn knows exactly where to find the best locations for taking stunning photographs of wildlife.

And that has resulted in him being in demand by film and TV producers needing expert guidance on where to capture the best wildlife images.

Glenn, 49, recently made his second appearance on BBC’s Countryfile, photographing salmon at Sleights as they desperately tried to make it back up the river to spawn.

“What could possibly be better than being out in the countryside – I just absolutely love it,” he says.

Glenn was born and bred in his beloved Whitby and he insists “it’s as beautiful as anywhere you’ll see”.

His dad was an engineer and his mum a cleaner and, for nearly 20 years, he worked as a mental health community support worker for North Yorkshire County Council.

But the countryside remained his biggest passion. He’d been going angling with his dad from the age of three or four, mainly sea fishing, often off the end of the pier. He and his friends would also frequently descend the cliffs, just to find the best places to fish. There were times, no doubt, when it put them in danger but they got to know all the best access and vantage points.

And as well as catching fish, there childhood adventures also gave them glorious views of birds, including Glenn’s favourites, the peregrine falcons and the barn owls.

Father-of-four Glenn increasingly found himself taking pictures for a fishing website he ran as a hobby and, gradually, his skills grew as a wildlife photographer.

Three years ago, he parted company with North Yorkshire County Council and took the plunge by launching his own business – Whitby Photography – and it’s fair to say that the enterprise has developed nicely.

Weddings and portraits are a core part of the business – “they pay the bills” – but Glenn is never happier than when he’s out and about, following his passion for the countryside.

“When I was a kid, I suppose you could describe me as a bit of a tearaway but, as I got older, I began to value nature more,” he says. “Now, I see myself taking pictures of the countryside and wildlife for the rest of my days.”

We asked Glenn to choose his favourite six pictures of 2017 and here they are:

Darlington and Stockton Times:

SALMON LEAPING: “This was taken at Sleights in September when Countryfile were filming. Growing up in the area, I’ve always known that it’s a place to see salmon leaping and I was there four hours that day. To get a good picture, you have to focus on one small area of the dam so you have to be really patient. I find it fascinating that we humans think we’re superior and yet these little fish swim halfway round the world to find their way back to where they were born to reproduce.”

Darlington and Stockton Times:

SEALED WITH A KISS: “This was at Ravenscar in November. I’d actually gone to photograph pups but I saw these two adults being really affectionate and that became my focus. They’d been rolling around for hours, just playing and enjoying life.”

Darlington and Stockton Times:

BARN OWL AT HOME: “I don’t want to give the exact location, other than it was taken in the North York Moors National Park in May. I’ve always had a fascination with barn owls and I was out photographing near a village at dusk when one flew past me. Someone in the local photographic group later gave me a rough idea where it lived and I went back to see if I could find it. I saw this hole in a tree and wondered if that might be its home. I went back again and there it was. I’ve been watching that family for three years now.”

Darlington and Stockton Times:

SUMMER BARN OWL: “This is from a different family near Scarborough and was taken during the summer. A lot of information comes from the photographic group on Facebook and one of the members told me where she’d seen a barn owl. I headed over there and spent hour after hour searching until I found where it lived. You can go ten nights without getting a picture.”

Darlington and Stockton Times:

CLIFFTOP PUFFIN: “Me and my friend Mike go down to Flamborough Head half a dozen times a year. You can also see puffins at Bempton Cliffs but it tends to get crowded so we go further down the coast to Flamborough. It’s quieter and, in my book, the chalk cliffs are one of Yorkshire’s best kept secrets.”

Darlington and Stockton Times:

PEREGRINE IN FLIGHT: “This was taken near Whitby and is one of a breeding pair. They are just magnificent birds. I’ve probably spent more hours trying to photograph peregrines than anything else and I’m hoping to focus more attention on them in the next year or so.”

To find out more about Glenn Kilpatrick (pictured on the right below during an appearance on BBC's Countryfile), click here

Darlington and Stockton Times: