Photographing The Lake District - Part 2
Updated: Jan 21, 2020
The trip had got off to a pretty poor start and right now hurricane Ophelia was blowing hard outside and I was certain I would wake up to trees down everywhere.
This wasn't my only problem, My car was due into the garage that morning for an urgent repair that I couldn't leave and it was so far the only likely looking day for reasonable weather.
I had managed to get the first appointment possible and set off early from up high at Hawkshead Hill on my way to Windermere, There was lots of small branches in the road but it seemed that hurricane Ophelia hadn't done too much damage so far which was a result, it was dark still but just starting to get light and the wind had totally stopped and in the distance I could see a layer of mist right over Windermere, this was the worst thing in the world as I couldn't stop to shoot it due to the car being dropped off, this was torture.
After the car was sorted I was off like a rocket and Windermere was now devoid of mist, typically so I decided to head off towards Loughrigg Tarn, a small lake that was overlooked by the mountains of Langdale and was picture perfect, I hoped the autumn colours would be in full force here.
Whilst on the way I decided to go a slightly different route to that of the sat nav and in short I took the wrong turn and ended up going past Rydal Water towards Grasmere, this turned out to be the best decision of the trip as the light was just coming out and Grasmere looked absolutely stunning.
As if by magic there was a pull in place and it had a space just calling me to stop. I ran over to the opening that allowed me to get a view of Grasmere and set up on some small steps.
The lake was flat calm and the light was just catching the higher points of the mountains and some mist was forming on the upper layers, This was the moment I had been waiting for and I took several shots.
Looking down the lake there was a beautiful mountain that was almost red in colour as the light hit it and I took several shots of this and its reflection in the water.
The mist had started to really fill up now and several shots were again taken with pleasing results as mountains peaked above it and light streaked through it.
The light had made these shots and I was so happy to have finally nailed some photos of this most beautiful area, I felt the pressure release and with that the light faded and the wind picked up a little bit and with that the beautiful scene in front of me was gone and it made me reflect on a few things, if the car hadn't been in the garage I would have probably ended up shooting mist over Windermere which simply put wouldn't have been as good shot, If I hadn't decided to ignore the sat nav and choose my own way I wouldn't have ended up here and I felt the Lake District was paying me back for the horrific start to the trip it had given me and the unfortunate chain of events that had happened.
I decided I would still check out Loughrigg Tarn and headed off in that direction, parked up and walked down to the tarn. It was beautiful, I knew it would be and it hadn't disappointed.
Lush green grass surrounded it and the burnt orange bordering on red colours of the fell sparkled in the sun.
There was still cloud around and the water was calm, The sun was a bit brighter than I would have liked but I wasn't going to complain and as I walked round the lake I took several pictures.
Loughrigg Tarn had several areas with nice stones leading down to the waters edge and I chose to focus on these to start with and got a few reasonable shots.
There was also a gate that went into the water separating the out of bounds area which belonged to the campsite.
As I tried to get down to it my feet squelched into the waterlogged muddy area and I knew I was going to get wet feet but I was a man possessed and I wasn't going to let anything spoil the chance of a picture of this area.
The light had started to get a bit patchy now and I decided to move on taking a route towards the mountains, I wasn't sure where it went but it had to go towards the mountains so it was a good start.
After a brief few twists & turns I was presented with a great view of the mountains of Langdale and I eagerly got a few images.
I moved further down the road and was greeted with some fabulous light catching the mountains where the road passed through and again I stopped the car and rushed to get the gear out and got several images I was happy with, I loved this type of photography where light & shadow roll across a mountain it's what I live for and was thankful that I had been able to get these shots.
Again I went further down the road and eventually came to a small but perfectly formed bridge that was surrounded by autumn colours and the light was hitting it with mountains in the background and low cloud it was exactly the sort of shot I had been looking for.
The weather started to change again rapidly and I headed North to try and catch the last of it.
I hadn't visited Derwent Water properly yet and looked forward to seeing this area.
By the time I got there it was pretty windy, very cloudy and not looking too great but there was still light coming through in patches.
I walked past the famous boats on the shore of Derwent Water and the moorings even further down, Something had caught my eye and it was an old mooring or jetty that was way out into the water and they were all leaning at funny angles and I really liked it as a feature.
Behind them in the distance was a mountain I later found out to be called Catbelles and the light was occasionally coming out and pointing right at it.
I set up with a long lens and waited, the light was teasing me and it would barely come out but I had nowhere else to be and I would wait patiently for it.
I couldn't make my mind up whether to shoot it with the 70-200mm or the wide angle 16-35mm and kept switching between the two and it seemed every time I was making the switch the light was coming back, it drove me crazy.
Decisive action was needed so I switched to the 24-105mm to give me the best of both worlds.
I tend to avoid this lens where possible as I feel its a little bit soft, There is nothing wrong with the lens but the 16-35 & 70-200 are both so sharp they are simply the preferred choice for any shots.
I took several photos at varying exposures and eventually got several shots I was pleased with.
I walked further back to the moorings and shot a few from here with big posts in the foreground and Catbelles mountain in the background with light rays coming down on it.
The wind had now really picked up and as I walked back I wanted to get a picture of all the boats parked up on the waters edge but they were all rocking back and forth so a higher ISO speed was used to give me a faster shutter speed whilst being able to retain good depth of field and again I was pretty happy with the results.
That pretty much concluded The shoot as it clouded over completely and the rain started once again and just carried on.
I was grateful for this one morning of nice weather and it had accounted for about 90% of the shots from the trip so far.
I headed back towards base camp and to my delight went through the bad weather and into some nicer patchy cloud which was letting light through, it rolled over the mountains so I went for high ground and looked across the Windermere valley and surrounding areas and I was able to get several nice images full of autumn colours and beautiful light.
The weather for the remainder of the day was very poor and I never managed to get out again other than a brief hike up to Tarn Hows but that was for pleasure rather than for taking pictures as the weather just wasn't there for it.
I looked at the forecast for the rest of the week and it was simply rain and at this point I had almost decided to call it a day and go home as Dorset was having decent weather but I decided I would give it another day on the off chance and I really fancied the area at Wasdale head again and Wast Water.
I was happy I had at least got some pictures from the trip and as I woke that morning I knew today probably wasn't going to be any good but I was going to go anyway.
I headed down to Wast Water and grey cloud seemed to get thicker and thicker, it wasn't looking good.
When I finally arrived it was much as I had expected, flat and grey and not really worth shooting but I wanted a shot to remind me that I had unfinished business here and that I needed to return to this area.
The shot while not a good one will give you an idea of the potential for this area and why I wanted it so bad, it's simply stunning.
I decided I was out so I would go to Loweswater which was very impressive but again no pictures were taken due to high winds and heavy rain but a return trip was on the cards for sure, From here to get back to base I could go past Crummock Water and Buttermere which seemed like a good plan but the weather once again put paid to any shots.
I was heart broken not to have even taken a picture of Buttermere, it was the one lake I really wanted but that was the way with these trips.
From Buttermere I would head to Derwent Water over the Honister pass, boy that was an experience and I was glad I had got my brakes fixed on the car as it was fairly steep to say the least.
As I approached Derwent water I decided I would go and have a look at Ashness bridge which if you don't know the name you will have probably seen the picture, It's certainly the most famous view in the Lake District and probably one of the best known bridges in England.
The drive up is quite steep and as you go over the bridge itself its very, very narrow but I have to say it is beautiful.
The shot would be great at sunset or sunrise as it was a view out to the mountains and I have to say I wanted to shoot it in better conditions but I didn't have that luxury today, it was pretty flat and you could barely see the mountains due to the cloud.
It was also swarming with tourists who were enjoying the bridge and the view and obviously didn't care about the photographer waiting for a clear view to shoot it, one couple even decided to have their lunch sat on the bridge, frustrating wasn't the word !
I persevered and eventually got a shot in portrait mode managing to frame it so the wandering masses were outside of the frame but it wasn't very good, conditions were just not on my side.
I walked up to an area know as "Surprise View" and it was pretty special I have to say but it was poor weather and I didn't bother photographing it for that reason but it was very nice to have seen it.
I called it a day and went back to base camp, I wasn't due to leave till Saturday morning but I had really come to the end of my tether now with the Lake District, it had been exceptionally cruel and to put it bluntly I just wasn't enjoying myself and thats what I do this for.
I decided that Friday morning I would head back to Dorset first thing, I packed everything up on Thursday night and was ready for the off in the morning.
The weather forecast had been for heavy rain and as I got up and looked outside I was dismayed to see some pretty nice weather and wondered if I should go back out but in truth my heart just wasn't in it and the Lake District had broken me a little and the spirit was damaged and needed to heal.
Dorset would sort me out with all of the good weather they were having, I got in the car and started the journey back, thats when I heard it on the radio, Storm Brian would hit Dorset today and the weather was going to be fowl.
I wasn't even upset, I just laughed as this whole trip had gone this way and it was one I would sooner forget.
The Lake District is a beautiful place but it's not without its pitfalls, its a tourist explosion everywhere you go and it makes life hard to park and to shoot. Its exceptionally expensive to park anywhere unless your a National Trust member and to be honest I felt that National trust were really exploiting non members by charging outrageous fees and I questioned my future membership with them, they seem to have taken a turn for the worse recently and I was unhappy about it.
The roads in the Lake District are small and of poor quality and frankly they are dangerous when covered in so many slippery leaves and with steep hills I wondered how people got around there in Winter.
It was a real disappointment for me sadly which is a great shame as it had been one of my most wanted places to visit.
That said I am sure I will go back someday as one bad week there can't write the future and I know the Lake District has many gifts to give up, it still remains one of the most beautiful parts of the country.
You can view all of the pictures from my trip HERE
Thanks to everyone who has read my blogs and supported me by reposting and commenting on them, it really is truly appreciated more than you will know.
For now my plan is a return trip to both Wales & Scotland in search of some snow capped mountains but that will mean putting in some serious graft at work in order to fund this so thats where I'm heading now, back to the daily grind.
As always, Happy shooting.
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