The Lake District

Cumbria - The early bird catches the worm - September 2016
Lone Tree Buttermere
10 to 17 September 2016

I regularly visit Cumbria as the whole national park is so photogenic. However, I have spent many a week here when the rain seemed incessant. This did not happen on this occasion as the weather was warm and sunny for most of the time. Indeed, much of the week, seemed too sunny for good photography - some people are never happy, are they?
In order to catch the best lighting conditions I rose from my bed most mornings at between 04.30 and 05.30 so as to travel to my chosen location and be ready for the "golden hour".

The highlights of these early morning outings were:

--Blea Tarn in the Langdale valley--

Arriving here shortly before sunrise invariably means that I have the whole place to myself. Indeed on this morning I did not see any evidence of another human for miles around. The light was not kind to me on this occasion as there were no clouds in the sky to reflect the colours of the rising sun. However, whilst looking around I did notice a bird perched on a rock in the distance beside the tarn. After I had tried, unsuccessfully, to capture some decent landscape shots I thought I would approach the bird and see if I could obtain a reasonable photograph of him/her. I slowly moved closer and closer until I was within about 20 feet. I took many shots of the bird but it was only when it briefly spread its wings that I realised it was a cormorant.


One average image of a bird is not a great deal to show for the early start. However, I measure experiences like this in ways other than a mere image count. The reality of being up and about long before any others, and seeing the splendour of the landscape, was ample reward.

--Friar's Crag on Derwentwater--

This is a place I have visited before in the early morning. I tend to go here to take views of the fells, seen across the lake, from which, hopefully, a light mist will be clearing. This morning there was another photographer who had the same idea and had already bagged the premier spot for his tripod where the composition will include the scenic fence sinking into the lake as a leading line. Not wishing to disturb him I moved a little further along the shore in search of less cliched vistas. In common with the Blea tarn morning the weather was not really compliant with my requirements as the distant fells were too shrouded in mist. Looking over my shoulder at the rising sun I suddenly realised that the best shot to take this morning was with a telephoto lens looking directly at the sun whilst it was shrouded in the mist and cloud rising off the nearby fell. The resulting image appears almost monochrome, although it is colour, and was one of my favourites of the week. The arrival of a small flock of geese was also welcome.

Sunrise Over The Fells

The lighting and subject matter remind me of the paintings of JMW Turner.


This was my earliest start as it involved a trip of about 40 miles over the Newlands pass from my holiday property. I was hoping for clear weather soon after sunset in order to take photographs of the renowned lone tree on the shore of Buttermere, with the brightly illuminated Fleetwith Pike and Haystacks across the lake. I realise as I write this that there is a recurring theme in this blog entry of the weather not going according to plan. This trip was no exception as I arrived at the "lone tree" after a long drive and a mile walk only to find it, and the whole lake, shrouded in mist. Not wishing to waste my journey, and my sacrifice of sleep, I set up my tripod and waited for the sun to appear. It never did, but the mist did partially clear and I was rewarded with a clear view of the tree and the hint of the fells beyond. I think the muted colour and definition make for a soothing image. What do you think?

Lone Tree Buttermere
Lone Tree Buttermere Mono

I show here both colour and monochrome versions, as I cannot decide which I prefer.

--Castlerigg Stone Circle--

This stone circle stands a mile or so east of Keswick, and is thought to have been in existence for some 4,000 years. It is a favourite subject, in Cumbria, for photographers seeking to portray its drama, set amongst fells such as Skiddaw, Blencathra and Helvellyn. The forecast was for overcast skies at dawn, clearing soon after 7.00am. The sky was indeed an oppressive looking grey when I arrived but, exactly as forecast, clearer conditions soon started to arrive from the west which added a dramatic appearance to the ancient scene. This was a highlight of my week in the lakes as I greatly enjoyed walking around the stone circle looking for new and better compositions.

Castlerigg Stone Circle Panorama

My week-long sojourn in Cumbria was over all too quickly. I invariably visit this region in the spring or autumn. Perhaps I should try the winter next time, wrap up in warm clothing and go out to capture some snow scenes.