Photo Gallery – Rooftop Buildings of the world

I wrote in my posting of 5th August 2009, Mapping the rooftops of the world:

“… the lure of Snowden for visitors since the 1780s has made me realise that ‘Rooftop’ buildings like (Hafod Eryri Visitor Centre) are the natural bedfellows of belvederes. Both rise above the hurly burly of life below and have superb views. The difference is that for the former the view may be incidental while for belvederes it is always central.”

rooftop_view1ePeople attracted to the views from our Lakeland Belvedere have often been to high places elsewhere and love the sense of wonder and inspiration which comes from visiting wild places away from our everyday lives. This Photo Gallery provides you with a virtual visit!

The two photos shown here (right) are of dramatic landscapes from continents on different sides of the world. The first (adjacent) – taken in bright mid-morning sunlight – is of the ‘Rooftop of Africa’. This is Ethiopia’s 18 km long high level traverse (at an elevation of 4,100m – 4,400m) in the Simien Mountains – the highest continuous stretch of mountains on the African continent. The second – catching the golden light of the evening sun – shows a stretch of the magnificent Great Wall of China passing along a 700m mountain chain.

IMG_0420eRooftop buildings are testimony over the centuries to the courage, spirit and perseverance of those men and women who have built and still build them – like these African villagers (left) carrying corrugated iron roofing sheets over a 4000 metres pass as dawn breaks over the Simien mountains.

We want to include here pictures of these remote and wild places and the people who live there. So far we have examples (See Gallery below) of buildings from six out of the seven continents; from Colorado and Utah in the USA, from the Wapta Icefield in Canada, from Ingapirca in Ecuador, from Ethiopia’s Simien Mountains and the 18 km Rooftop of Africa traverse, from Mull and the Shetlands in Scotland, from Crete’s Mt Psiloritis, from the Gobi Desert in Mongolia, from Kyrgyzstan and from the Great Wall of China; and finally a unique 1957 collection of images from Antarctica. Only Australia is missing.

Behind all of them is a story to tell. Building at altitude and remote sites requires commitment, invention and ingenuity. As more people travel to distant places, waste disposal become more complex and expensive. Photos No 13-15 of the top and bottom sections of the WAPTA icefield toilet show for instance the practical steps needed to get filled barrels ready for removal off the ice-field to limit environmental harm.

china_wall2We want more photos and more of these stories! So why not send an email to us ( with your photos of roof top buildings? They may have been constructed for agriculture, for defence, for worship, for research, for shelter or for travellers. Whatever their purpose we will publish them here with an acknowledgment. Just remember to include the relevant data for each photo as outlined below.

The criteria for inclusion are that the images must be clear and well focussed. The photos must be of buildings which have commanding height and views and are well designed, fit for purpose, integrated into the surrounding landscape and able to provide overnight shelter and warmth. A conventional tent or overnight snow-hole is ruled out whatever its position!

Photo Gallery

The photographs are numbered left to right and linked (mostly) in sets of three. Hovering with the cursor over a photo will give more details and single clicking on the photo will usually bring up a larger image. Information for each photo is given using the following abbreviations:
T: Type of building
Loc: Location, including zip-code (if known) for searching on Google Maps
C: Country
E: Elevation in metres
D: Date photo taken

1. T: Visitor Centre Loc: Quarry, Dinosaur National Monument, Utah [CO 81610] C: USA E: 1530m D: 2008
2. T: Eco house Loc: Ulva, Isle of Mull [PA73 6LT] C: Scotland E: 100m D: 2008
3. T: Eco house – 2nd photograph

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4. T: Thatch & stone house Loc: Asmari village, Macanna, Simien Mountains C: Ethiopia E: 3900m D: 2008
5. T: Thatch & stone house – 2nd photograph
6. T: Civil war frontier post Loc: Ridge from Kidis Yared, Simien Mountains C: Ethiopia E: 4400m D: 2008

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7. T: Wooden shack Loc: Above Amari valley overlooking Mt Psiloritis C: Crete, Greece E: c.700m D: 2008
8. T: Visitor Centre Loc: Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado [CO 80517] C: USA E: 3596m D: 2008
9. T: Visitor Centre – Exterior view of Centre with strengthened roof and US flag flying

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10. T: Balfour Hut Loc: Wapta Icefield, Banff National Park C: Canada E: 2469m D: 2008 – © C L Harford
11. T: Watch Tower (16th C.) Loc: Jinshanling Great Wall, Hebei Province C: China E: 700m D: 2005
12. T: Watch Tower (16th C.) View showing defensive barriers built into the steps

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13. T: Wooden loo shed Loc: Wapta Icefield C: Canada E: 2773m D: 2008 – © C L Harford
14. T:Lower combi-shed at the Scott Duncan Hut used for storing toilet waste barrels – © C L Harford
15. T: Lower combi-shed showing interior with filled toilet barrels nearest the door – © C L Harford

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16. T: Traditional framed Loc: Gobi Desert C: Mongolia E: c.1800m D: 2002 – © C L Harford
17. T: Temple of the Sun (late 15th C.) Loc: Ingapirca C: Ecuador E: c.3180m D: 2007
18. T: Temple of the Sun (late 15th C.) – View of massive walls with precision carved and fitted stones

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19. T:
Mousa Broch (c 300 BC) Loc: Shetlands [ZE3] C: Scotland E: 6 m D: 2009 – © J C Richardson
20. T: Cantilevered toilet Loc: Kallergi Mountain Refuge, Omalos C: Crete, Greece E: 1680m D: 2007
21. T: Cantilevered toilet shed above 200 m drop – View across Samaria Gorge to Mt Gingolos (2080m)

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22. T: World’s highest domed Ice house Loc: Below Pico do Arieiro C: Madeira E: 1740m D: 2009
23. T: World’s highest domed Ice house – view looking south to port of Funchal
24. T: Lakeland Belvedere with sedum roof [CA12] Loc: Thornthwaite, Cumbria C: UK E: 140m D: 2008.

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25. T: Loc: Torugart-Too on the Old Silk Road C: Kyrgyzstan E: 3672m D: 2008 – © BM Harford
26. T: Herdsmen beside ‘highway’ Loc: Torugart-Too C: Kyrgyzstan E: 3672m D: 2008 – © BM Harford
27. T: Silk Road Caravanserai (15th C) Loc: Tash Rabat C: Kyrgyzstan E: 3500m D: 2008 – © BM Harford

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28 – 39. T: Research Hut & environment Loc: Halley Bay C: Antarctica E: 100m D: 1957 – © D P Harrison
The photographs below were taken over 50 years ago by David Harrison, a member of the 1957
Royal Society International Geophysical Year Expedition to the Antarctic (IGYE). He was based on the ice shelf at Halley Bay at Latitude 75.5° S. and was making a radio echo research study of the aurora Australis. The photos, some developed in situ, provide a unique record of the building and subsequent life of the Echo Hut, where David’s research was conducted over 2 years. One of the IGYE huts was seen years later by another expedition, emerging crushed in a falling ice cliff. Click the individual photos for more information.

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40. T: Peasant’s Refuge hut Loc: Tiger Leaping Gorge C: Yunaan, China E: 3000m D: 2005
41. T: Peasant’s Refuge hut – view of the external side wall with advert for next café rest stop
42. T: Café with mobile comms devices Loc: Tiger Leaping Gorge C: Yunaan, China E: 3000m D: 2005.

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43. T: Shepherd’s cottage ruin Loc: Blaeberry Fell, Cumbria [GR: NY 279209] C: UK E: 355m D: 2010
44. T: 19th C Shepherd’s cottage ruin – view of Skiddaw looking N through sandstone door posts D: 2010
45. T: 19th C Shepherd’s cottage ruin – view of Grisedale and Robinson looking W D: 2010

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46. T: WW1 frontier post Loc: VF via delle Trincee, Arabba C: Italy E: 2727m D: 2009 – © E Moore
47. T: WW1 frontier buildings on VF via delle Trincee, Arabba C: Italy E: 2727m D: 2009 – © E Moore
48. T: View from the frontier post across to Marmolada with lake below. D: 2009 – © E Moore

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49. T: Deserted croft Loc: Near Calgary Bay, Isle of Mull C: Scotland E: 40m D: 2010
50. T: Eleven ruined crofts Loc: Inivea, above Calgary Bay, Mull C: Scotland E: 60m D: 2010 © J Loudon
51. T: Calgary Bay – Looking west to rays of sunlight. The emigrating crofters’ route to USA via Glasgow

52. T: Mud brick house Loc: Central, Western Ghats, Kerala C: South India E: c 1600m D: 2011
53. T: Young woman in front of her nearby house Loc: Central, Kerala C: South India E: c 1600m D: 2011
54. T: Family room in the house with World Cup cricket on TV Loc: Central, Kerala C: South India D: 2011

55. T: Bothy Loc: Les Herbageres, nr Trient [GR: 564097] C: Switzerland E: 2036m D: 2010 – © E Moore
56. T: Inside of Cabane de Moiry with icefield outside C: Switzerland E: 2825m D: 2010 – © E Moore
57. T: [Nos 55-57 on Haute Route]. Wide view of the Moiry icefield. D: 2010 – © E Moore blog

58. T: Berber village houses Loc: Tizi Oussem en route to Toubkal C: Morocco E: c 1850m D: 2010
59. T: Inaccessible chapel Loc: Above Amalfi, Campania C: Southern Italy E: c 300m D: 2011

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