Edward Adrian-Vallance

EdVallance

Edward Adrian-Vallance

I run a small but successful fixer / interpreter service organising trips to hard-to-reach parts of Siberia, the Arctic and the Russian Far East, in particular the Yamal Peninsula and the Polar Urals . I write whenever I get the chance, which is not so often any more. My writing on Siberia has been published in The Geographical, The Calvert Journal and Travel Addict. I am also a permanent paid contributor to the Globespots online travel guide.

Click the links above to visit my website.



Europe » Ukraine » Krim June 27th 2012

Train stations in former Soviet countries are not the sort of place you would want to subject children to for aтy longer than absolutely essential. Nevertheless, every available inch of seating at Kiev station is taken up by families who, according to tradition, have arrived many hours before their departure time and sit there meekly doing nothing while they await their train. The waiting hall is an enormous, high-ceilinged cavern of a room but only a small proportion of its floor has been installed with seats, which are super-densely packed together and leave those early-arriving families clumped together like a blob on one side while the rest of the room remains empty. Those without sufficient foresight, or who simply cannot be bothered, to arrive hours before their train are left to explore the station’s array of ... read more
Girl playing by fountain, Sevastopol, Crimea, Ukraine
Kersones, the remains of a 2,500-year old town in Sevastopol, Crimea, Ukraine
Kersones, the remains of a 2,500-year old town in Sevastopol, Crimea, Ukraine

Europe » Russia » Northwest » Kola Peninsula May 8th 2012

A lonely track winds its way along the Kola Peninsula's Tersky Coast from one log cabin village to the next, its orangey-brown earth taking up the majority of the narrow space between trees and sea. The taiga forest, its floor turned to swamp by the coming spring, ends abruptly on one side while on the other the White Sea, afloat with vast chunks of melting ice, laps the shore and fills the lungs with its fresh, salty breeze. A blazing sun beats down from a clear sky on this May morning, its rays sparkling on the sea's dark blue surface, illuminating the barky browns and mossy greens of the forest nearest to the road while leaving its depths utterly impenetrable to the eye. Half an hour after leaving the village of Varzuga our van stopped. Vasily, ... read more
The White Sea ice melting in May off the Tersky Coast, Kola Peninsula, Arctic Russia
Wooden churches in Varzuga on the White Sea's Tersky Coast, Kola Peninsula, Arctic Russia
A river melting near the Tersky Coast, Kola Peninsula, Arctic Russia

Europe » Russia » Northwest » Kola Peninsula April 30th 2012

The mountainside rumbled under the hooves of 4,000 reindeer. When you put such a huge number of this species together, something very strange but well documented by science happens, and was taking place on a mountain on Arctic Russia’s Kola Peninsula at that moment: the reindeer were galloping around and around in a giant, perfectly-formed ring five hundred meters long and a dozen animals thick all the way around. Over the course of a day this grunting, snorting, mass of constantly circling animals was driven carefully down from the snowy heights, over the short, springy, brown vegetation that covered the boulder-strewn lower slopes and into the tundra and forest below. In this way the indigenous Saami reindeer herders began their Spring migration. I had arrived on Kola a few days previously after a 33-hour train ride ... read more
Saami reindeer herder, Lovozero Region, Kola Peninsula, Arctic Russia
Saami reindeer herders riding a sledge on a frozen lake, Lovozero Region, Kola Peninsula, Arctic Russia
Reindeer, Lovozero Region, Kola Peninsula, Arctic Russia

Europe » Russia » Siberia April 14th 2012

The nine families, nine chums and 10,000 reindeer of the second Yar Sale brigade were on their way north, their annual 1200km migration begun after a six-week winter break in the forest tundra of Nadym Region. To a casual observer who somehow stumbled on the nine conical tents amid the flat, treeless, white expanse of the Yamal Peninsula tundra, it would not be immediately obvious that these Nenets nomads were on the move. To a more trained eye, however, signs were everywhere: the dark skin of the herders, deeply bronzed by the sun after 200km traveled by reindeer-drawn sledge from the forest tundra; the reindeer herd, which during the six-week winter break had been allowed to wander up to 20km from the encampment, now milling around in a depression a few hundred metres away, ready to ... read more
Nenets child on the Yamal Peninsula, Arctic Siberia
Nomadic Nenets reindeer herder carving wood, Yamal Peninsula, Arctic Siberia
Nenets woman cutting firewood, Yamal Peninsula, Arctic Siberia

Europe » Ukraine » Lviv March 18th 2012

From the northernmost limits of the former Soviet Union to the westernmost, from the Siberian Arctic to the tranquil, warm, historical European town of Lviv, was 3.5 days of train travel and a temperature rise of more than 40°C. People came and went, the train's denizens morphing from one sort to another as surely as did the landscape through which we traveled. At Moscow I changed trains, the oil and gas workers returning from months-long stints in the north who had made up the majority of the passengers on the way south now dispersing on various trains to their respective corners of the former USSR. They were replaced by Ukrainians returning home from months-long stints in Moscow who brought with them bags full of chicken, eggs, little boxes of salt, salami, bread, tomatoes, cucumbers and vodka ... read more
Men outside a pub in the back streets near Ploshchad Rynok, Lviv, Ukraine
Priest lighting candles in Andreevskaya Church, Kiev, Ukraine
Babushki on Prospekt Svobody, Lviv, Ukraine

Europe » Russia » Siberia March 11th 2012

In the flat, white tundra it was hard to appreciate the vastness of 10,000 reindeer. I stood next to our sledge while grunting, snorting seas of bodies and antlers flowed around me in one direction then another. Dogs kept them moving while a Nenets man on a reindeer-drawn sledge, directing his transport beasts with light blows from a long wooden pole, moved from one part of the herd to another, looking for reindeer ready to be eaten. Once a suitable animal had been found the herders would get that part of the herd moving with the help of dogs. They would then stand still until, catching sight of the animal he wanted amid the rippling, flowing, cascading mass of reindeer, one would lash out with his reindeer-rawhide lasso and send it sailing through the air. More ... read more
Kostya, a Nenets reindeer herder, Nadym Region, Siberia
A Nenets child, Nadym Region, Siberia
Reindeer grazing, Nadym Region, Siberia

Europe » Russia » Siberia February 5th 2012

My eyes are frozen shut. I hear only the roar of the snowmobile dragging our sledge across the Gulf of Ob's frozen waters. After traveling for seven hours in -40°C the cold overpowers other sensations so that it is all I feel. Soon we will reach the coast of the Yamal Peninsula but for now we must bear another hour of this burning, soul-crushing cold. I relive the last few days as images dancing through my mind: laughter around the fire in a darkened teepee... and warmth; the rising sun lending its fiery glow to the silver trees around the Nenets nomads' encampment... and warmth; drinking fresh blood from a reindeer carcass... and its warm trickle down my throat. Always these fleeting, ethereal memories of warmth come back as we plough on through the Arctic night. ... read more
Chums at an encampment of nomadic Nenets reindeer herders, Nadym Region, Siberia
A very small part of a 10,000 head herd of Nenets reindeer, Nadym Region, Siberia
Nenets wrestling in the tundra, Nadym Region, Siberia

Europe » Russia » Siberia January 26th 2012

The train took us out of Moscow's suburbia with its usual rapidity and into the land of snow-coated wooden cottages, picket fences and endless forest that would greet our every glance through the train window for the next forty eight hours before thinning out into sub-Arctic forest tundra on our journey's third and final day. We passed Rostov Veliky, turrets on the gentle, whitewashed walls of its Kremlin barely visible against the snowy sky. By the time we reached Yaroslavl, a glorious winter sun had emerged to lend a warm, glowing life to the outlandish colours of the cathedral domes amid the city's concrete sprawl. We went to sleep shortly after Vologda and woke up in the bitter cold of Kotlas where we stopped traveling due north on the Moscow - Arkhangelsk line and branched off ... read more
Nenets chums, Nadym Region, Siberia
Nenets people making floor boards for a chum, Nadym Region, Siberia
A Nenets sacred site on the Yamal Peninsula, Siberia

Europe » Russia » Northwest » Karelia October 3rd 2011

The world is changing. The trees of the endless Russian forest, a few weeks ago alive with a million vibrant emerald hues, are now becoming dull. The ominously brooding greys and blacks of the sky, from which just over a month ago the sun beat down on us at over 30°C, do not allow the leaves to show off their potentially glorious array of autumn colours. Instead they are lifeless shells, drab reminders of the coming winter that one by one fall from the trees and drift slowly to rest on the forest floor. The number of dark, bare, skeletal branches is rising, soon to outnumber those laden with the last real colours this world will see for six months. A few droplets of rain trickle down the train window through which I am looking, not ... read more
The church in Shchelyeyki
Cars waiting for the ferry that never came, Voznesenye
The log church in Gimreka, built 1659

Europe » Russia » Centre September 26th 2011

Bleary-eyed we climbed out of the carriage, down the steps and onto the one lonely platform at Uglich's station. The train we had arrived on stood motionless on the rails, its engines finally silent after a nine-hour chug through the night. The thinnest sliver of a crescent moon hung a few inches above it, lending a purplish light to the just-visible clouds that rippled away in all directions. Small cloudless patches of sky were just beginning to differentiate themselves from the general darkness of the heavens with the very faintest hint of blue, suggesting that somewhere the sun was inching its way up towards the horizon. The last of the passengers had left and a chill autumn wind was blowing down the platform, a precursor to the winter that would soon be upon us. The train's ... read more
Church spires above rooftops in Uglich
Sunset in Uglich
House in Uglich




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