Great Langdale & Blea Tarn
7th September 2016
We drove back into the valleys and down a long farm track, where the steep mountain sides met the flat pastures, and after negotiating a parking fee with the farmer, we began our climb. We weren’t to summit any of the peaks that surrounded the end of the valley, but were instead aiming for a tall waterfall about halfway up the mountain, Whorneyside Force. The sun beat down on us with a heavy humidity as we crossed the lower fells and made our way along a wide riverbed of round, grey stones; the centuries of flowing water smoothing them into round boulders of all sizes. Keeping up with the pace of our busily packed day was hard going in the heat, but the excitement of reaching the falls kept us going, and we were teased with brief views of it as we approached.
Standing beneath the falls gave a welcome respite from the heat, a momentary rest in the shade and refreshing cool mist being kicked up by the power of the falling water. Draining the upper reaches of Bow Fell and Crinkle Crags gives the falls a constant flow, which over time has eaten through the upper layers of heather and peat revealing a narrow strip of bedrock that forms a vertical cliff. In the stillness of this serene landscape I could happily have sat for hours, all thoughts and distractions overwhelmed by the white noise of the waterfalls plummeting into the pool below. But the shadows cast by the sun were getting longer, and despite it only being mid-afternoon, we still had a lot we wanted to achieve and left the waterfall after just twenty minutes.
Earlier in the day, before our climb to Whornseyside Force, I’d spotted on the eastern slopes of the valley a silver road, snaking back and forth as it made its descent. Seeing it, we had noted it in our plans for the afternoon, hoping to catch the sun when it was lower in the sky to bleach into our shots, creating a golden hue. Up on the hill, looking downwards the road was even more spectacular than I’d imagined earlier. I took a surveillance flight with the drone to scout out the landscape above us, taking several photos showing the extent of this photogenic road.
I take my camera everywhere, you never know when you might need it, or what you might miss without; whilst it’s not as essential to daily life, a skateboard is usually in the back of the car or strapped to my bag when I’m in the mountains. Just like those unpredictable moments when you’re pleased you brought your camera – when everything just clicks – I was pleased the skateboard was close to hand; a perfect, sweeping road, a backdrop of 900m mountains, and warm golden light filling the valley just begs to be skated.
Amidst the warmth of the setting sun we made our way back to Blea Tarn, where we planned to stay for a second night. As we arrived late the previous evening, we were forced to pitch our tent and the first suitable patch of land, but tonight we wished to scout the shores of the tarn, exploring through the woodland to find our campground. The stillness of the wind meant the tarn was blissfully still, without a single ripple or distortion on it surface, making for a reflection photographers dream of. We spent much more time than we planned as we made our way around the water hunting for a campsite, but it couldn’t be helped. The perfect mirror of the mountains and sky demanded you take your time and appreciate the beauty of the landscape. Eventually we found our ideal location, among tall pines on the edge of the tarn, and feeling satisfied we returned back to the car in search of one last magical location to capture the sunset.
We didn’t have to travelling for long, and had soon left the car at the roadside and were making our way up Side Pike, looking out over the Langdale Valley towards the waterfall we had visited earlier in the day. We set about making our basic camp food on a small burner, brought out our portable speakers, settling down to enjoy the spectacle happening in front of us. The sun lowered in the sky, down behind the mountains, giving a pale yellow glow to the horizon and fading to dark blue above our heads. I’m not one to eat in expensive and luxurious restaurants, but sitting there in front of such a spectacular view is one of the best meals I’ve ever eaten; a simple and easy tortellini and tomato dish, strongly supplemented by a sensational atmosphere.
After retreating to our tent, we gathered a small amount of firewood to enjoy the evening with, and recalled the successes of the day. We’d discovered some great locations, taken a lot of photographs, and crammed enough in to last a long weekend. In all we’d been up and active for 19 hours by the time we called it a night and zipped up the door to our tent, for some well deserved rest before the drive back to reality in the morning
ISO 220, 15mm, ƒ2.8, 1/120s. 1835 frames, 60fps.