Lake District

A journey to a beautiful area in Northern England.

I had seen a booklet about the Lake District many years ago, and since then it was always a destination I wanted to visit.

The Lake District is close to the Scottish border and can be reached by train. It is well known to british citizens, but I suppose other Europeans tend to think this is too far north and cold. That is not quite correct; a quick look to a map reveals it is located at the same latidude as the border between Germany and Denmark.

The beauty invites for small excursions and hikings, and it is also a photographic paradise. Most pictures shown from there are in colour, but I like to capture the mood in a different way and work in black and white.

Ambleside and Langdales

Ambleside is a small town in the center of the Lake District. It is located at the north shore of the Lake Windermere and an excellent location for day tours. I show two pictures here which were taken in Ambleside. One shows the unusual bridge house, which was painted by Kurt Schwitters. The Dadaist lived for his last two years in Ambleside, where few of his works are shown in the Armitt museum.

On the first excursion I made a brief stop at the Skelwith force, just three miles west of Ambleside. The road leads along Elterwater to the wide Langdale, where I took a picture of a lovely meadow. The road winds up towards the Side Pike with an elevation of just 360 m, but the mountains here look much more rugged than what I am used to see in the much higher Black Forest where I live.  A circular hike towards the Side Pike reveals magnificent views across Little Langdale with the nearby Blea Tarn. Slightly behind the Little Langdale Tarn the old Slaters’ bridge crosses the Brathay, which continues to the Skelwith force I visited before.

The Hodge Close quarry was the final distination of this day. Getting there by car takes a little detour, but a circular 5 km walking tour  passing Slaters’ bridge is also possible. The quarry is very deep with steep slopes, a paradise for climbers.

In the evening I took another picture in Ambleside. Flocks of birds were resting on the roofs, but suddenly they left and settled again shortly after. It was a little spooky, and I waited for quite a while to take a picture illustrating this. While waiting, I thought of Kari Bremnes’ song “Birds” – I love her voice and the message in this song.

Rydal Water und Grasmere

The second excursion first led to Rydal Hall with its magnificent garden, just three miles north of Ambleside. Not far from there is the lake Rydal Water, which inivtes for a walk along the shore. After some views of the lake and some trees lining it, I arrived at the Rydal Cave. This originates from slate mining, which is also evident from some rock structures.

Again, not far from there is the Grasmere lake. Some ducks apparently liked the tranquil scenery as much as I did.

The final stop was Loughrigg Fell, with a worthwhile walk to the Loughrigg Tarn and a view across the landscape.

A Copper Mine at Levers Water, Wise Een Tarn and Lake Windermere

I parked the car a little outside Coniston, 10 miles away from Ambleside. The walk up to Levers Water along the Levers Water Beck on the left side gets rather steep at the end, but a waterfall just below the lake invited for a brief stop. The way back on the other side was much easier to walk, and it passed an abandoned copper mine. Some carriages and tools remain from the mine which once had extensive tunnels, re-discovered in 1984 by chance.

My excursion continued to Hill Top, a good starting point for a walk to the Wise Een Tarn.

A ferry across Lake Windermere shortens the way to the east side of the lake where boat tours offer crossings on the lake. It was already getting dark, and the weather was not overly inviting – but perfect for taking pictures.

Hallin Fell, Aira Force, Keswick and Derwent Water

It was time now to proceed to Keswick. I did not take the shortest way but took a detour along Ullswater. At the far end a dead end road runs from Pooley Bridge along the valleys on the east shore. A walk up to Hallin Fell provides a magnicifent view of the entire area. Ullswater, of course, but I took a picture of Martindale instead.

Shortly after leaving Ullswater, Aira Force is a well known destination with paths on both sides of the Aira Beck, leading to the waterfalls.

The road continues then towards Keswick. It is a pretty town located at the north end of Derwent Water. A walk along the shore provides views of the Derwent Isle and of Keswick. It is a beautiful lake, as also evident from Victoria Bay and from the Surprise View.

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Slate Mining, Innominate Tarn, Buttermere and Crummock Water

A day tour from Keswick started at the Honister slate mine. It is a touristic place where pieces of slate can be bought. I took a walk towards the Innominate tarn. The path leads uphill in a straight line to the abandoned Dubs Hut at the Dubs slate quarry. A little further uphill, magnificent views to the lake Buttermere and Crummock Water open up. Still a little further I reached the Innominate Tarn at an elevation of 520 m.

Later in the day, I reached Buttermere and Crummock Water which I had already seen from further up. They provide a peaceful atmosphere, particularly with the low light close to sunset.

Bad Weather at the Hardknott Pass

The weather forecast on the last day was not promising. I had in fact the choice to take the risk of wasting the day when going to my planned destination Wast Water or to stay in Keswick. The weather forecast was so bad indeed that warnings were issued not to use the Hardnott pass, which is on the way to Wast Water. It must be known here that the Hardknott pass is just 393 m high, so it is tempting to say: so what? However, the pass (which was built by the Romans) is the steepest road in England; with slopes up to 30% it is a challenge for cyclists. During winter, it is often closed due to ice and snow.

So I took the warning serious and chose a big detour – just to discover the weather was really not friendly for photographers and others. I would have been drenched in no time, so I left Wast Water without taking pictures. Rain got somewhat less though, so I considered to use the Hardknott pass for my way back. When I reached the pass the little road passing through the fog provided an impressive view. I think my picture conveys my feeling of loneliness and desolation which I had while taking this. Photography can be rewarding even on a day like this! Probably even more than in sunshine, to be honest.

I made still another stop on the side road along the river Duddon. Not to my surprise, the rapids there had quite some water..

Conclusion

The Lake District is an exceptionally beautiful are for nature lovers and photographers, which often is the same. I chose not to illustrate this beauty in colourful pictures but in black and white. I hope they convey the impressions I got there. And, no, it is not always dark muddy clouds there. I suggest to go there, it is definitely worth a journey.

For Those Technically Interested

This is simple: I used the Hipstamatic app on my iPhone 4s. There are other ways to shoot landscapes; even colour works as shown in my pictures from Iceland. As long as it is not HDR, anything counts.

A close look to the picture taken at Crummock Water shows a tripod in the lower left. It holds my Hasselblad 501 C/M which I had also with me, and I used it. It is a much better camera when correct presentation is required, but the iPhone is more capable to capture what I want to show, so I leave it to those pictures.

Details

A journey to the Lake District in Northern England. A remarkeable landscape.