To Buttermere & Beyond...
DAY 2: It was with a moderate sense of jubilation mixed with guilt (how did I deserve such heavenly light?!) that I had headed back to base from my first day in the Lakes around Ullswater. Suitably fed and watered I drifted off to an early sleep with the recollections of the day in my mind and the strains of the ascents and descents in my legs.
It's amazing how a 5.30am alarm shatters the sense of peace and tranquility of a deep sleep! As I rose my mind was already running through the route for the morning, as I chewed on the muesli my mind was crafting possible visual scenarios and how I would react to them, this may or may not assist me 'in the field' but it's a good way to get the brain working at the extreme ends of the day.
I was heading to Buttermere, a place I'd never visited but had seen countless images of. This always worries me a little as the spectre of repetition looms large over the un-adventurous, so with that in mind I was hoping for something a little different from the conditions and from myself. After a twisty and steep ascent through the Honister Pass the road descends "into a stunning valley strewn with large boulders"...or at least that's what the guide book says. I couldn't see further than 20 feet thanks to the extremely dense fog that had camped across the Lakes that morning.
After parking and paying I made the short walk towards the South Eastern tip of the lake. From here there is a lovely view of the wooded southern shoreline, so lovely that about 50 million people appear to have taken pictures of it! Today though there was little chance of a stereotypical shot of the fells behind catching the morning sun as there was no morning sun to be seen in the fog. That said, afer a short walk up the shoreline there were 10-15 mins where the peaks were temporarily exposed and I managed to make a couple of quick images, happy with the more peaceful representation of this often grandiose scene.
Soon after the fog descended again and I headed north up the shoreline, generally I was alone bar the odd sheep and keen walker, after all it was 7.30am on a Sunday morning in November. The sweeping shoreline offers some lovely shapes and I spent some time wrestling with the image below. Ideally I would have allowed a little more space above and to the left side to give both the peak and curve of the shore more space to breathe, however I was travelling light with just 1 lens and this was the compromise I had to make. I still appreciate the peace of the scene and the resulting A3 print I've made of this image has come out very nicely.
I continued on north around the eastern shoreline, by this time I'd bumped into a couple of fellow photographers heading the other way, presumably to the classic wooded shoreline shot, I wondered how long they'd wait for that dense bank of fog to clear before giving up.
The dense fog showed no signs of moving, this actually suited me fine and allowed me to make a couple of simple images using the shoreline and the reeds and trees that grace it.
Finally I reached the Northern end of the lake and headed up into the Woodland beyond. There was still some lovely Autumnal colour here and I spent a good amount of time just wandering and exploring, a day and a half into this 3 day break and I was really starting to feel at peace with the area.
DAY 3: Again the tinny buzz and ring of my phone woke me at silly o'clock. Today I was heading off to The Langdales and more specifcially Blea Tarn was the first port of call.
Arriving in good time for sunrise I was slightly miffed to see about 6 other photographers had beaten me to it. Instead of arriving alone and in solitude like the day before, the car park at Blea Tarn resembled a busy Tesco Express with just a bit more mud and a few more blearly eyes. Part of me wanted to just get back into the car and go somewhere else, I prefer to work alone, after all there's the usual polite "good morning" chit-chat routine to get through which we probably all want to avoid but still politely engage in.
That said I was happy with the brief burst of illuminating light that we all enjoyed for 20 minutes or so. I took some time to try and look around the scene, avoiding the obvious can be challenging in these circumstances, after all sometimes there's nothing wrong with the obvious. However I soon found I wanted some more peace and quiet and headed off away from Blea Tarn and headed up Side Pike, which is indeed short yet sharp in terms of ascent.
It's at times like this I'd love to carry less gear, on a number of occassions I looked ruefully at my heavy tripod and wanted to just throw it off the crag, that said I probably lacked the strength and my Northern 'tightness' lacked the spirit to throw all that money away! On arrival at the summit I turned to see a beautiful view back over towards Blea Tarn and I spent a wonderful 45 mins watching the fog come slowly rolling into the valley until finally the view was lost, and so was I, into a bank of dense fog. I packed up my bag, loaded myself up like the Lakeland Donkey that I'd become and headed onwards and upwards into the gloom...and it felt fantastic!