Northern Lake District
17th April 2017
Spend as much time on Instagram as I do, you begin to recognise people. It’ll start off with liking a few of their photos, but you’ll soon be exchanging a few comments, and maybe progress into a few messages/emails between each other. It’s a great place to discover a community of likeminded people who share the same interests and hobbies. Occasionally you might get to meet people through an organised trip or planned meet-up, and it through this that I went on this trip.
There was a meet up organised by a few of the guys behind @TheWalesCollective to take place in the Lake District, and through messages and interest a bunch of us photographers decided to get a house in Keswick for the weekend. Most people arrived as real-world strangers, all besides a few messages and WhatsApp conversations in the past, but with the common interests of photography and the outdoors.
We spent the first day of arrival narrowly missing each other as we passed in and out of signal; between the 12 of us in the local area, we must have driven/walked past each other numerous times, but no one was in signal long enough to really make a connection. As a result I spent my first afternoon on my own hiking through the large mountain forest of Whinlatter. With easy access, Whinlatter is a fantastic place to spend any length of time and with several walking trails of varying length that snake through the trees it can make for a really magical walk. I always find myself heading for the trees if the weather’s bad. It’s in wet weather that woodland really comes to life with colour and volume. This afternoon I was fortunate enough to get some low cloud that worked its way amongst the trees around me.
I left the forest and checked into the house and caught up with everyone else who’d made the trip (I’ll link to those involved below), and spent the evening getting to know one another before the following day’s meet/walk.
We arrived at Rydal Water at 10am and found the crowd of around 40 people that were there for our days outing. We walked around the edge of Rydal Water, and upwards past Rydal Cave to the top of Loughrigg Fell. I really like large meet-ups, less for the photo opportunities, but more for the opportunity to meet a lot of like minded people and share some good conversations. I’ve been on quite a few meets in the past, and would definitely recommend them to anyone who loves the outdoors.
After heading back into Keswick for some lunch, we took a stroll down the shore of Derwentwater and enjoyed the warm springtime sunshine. For it’s proximity to the centre of Keswick, I’d highly recommend a walk to anyone visiting with half an hour to spare. The views across the water to Catbells and down towards Borrowdale at the end of the lake are sensational, and you really should make the effort to make it all the way down to Friar’s Crag, where there is a perfectly place bench.
The last challenge of the day was to find somewhere to capture the sunset. For this we chose to take the short drive down Derwentwater and to Surprise View, which facing west, gives great views of the sunset over the lake. The main benefit of this location is how close it is to the road, you can almost shoot directly from the car window, meaning that a great sunset is never out of the question no matter how long the day has been. We were there for around an hour, and watched the sky go through a whole spectrum of colour, with the clouds being painted in shades of vibrant orange and pink.
After spending the rest of the evening socialising and drinking enough beer to ensure some grogginess the following day, when awoke at 5AM before the sun had crept silently over the horizon. We set out in convoy, heading East to the far shore of Ullswater and the iconic boathouse outside Pooley Bridge. The timing couldn’t have been better as we stepped out of the cars to see the first rays of morning sunlight emerge form beyond the horizon.
On the return trip back, we stopped briefly at Aira Force, the tall waterfall nestled in old woodland above Ullswater. Again, the beauty of the Lake District is to find such an incredible waterfall as easily accessible as this, with a viewing platform and bridge beneath it and another bridge spanning the stream at the top. The view from up there gives an exhilarating sense of vertigo should you dare to look over the side.
After lunch we split into two parties, with half going to Whinlatter Forest (having heard praise of it all weekend) and the remaining of us heading over to Buttermere, via Honister Pass. After crawling our way up the difficult mountain road, we pulled into the slate mine car park to appreciate the views. We walked a short way along the side of the valley capturing photos of the road, before getting back into the cars and descending the rest of the way to shores of Buttermere.
Parking at the small settlement of Gatesgarth, we left the cars and set off on foot around the edge of Buttermere Lake. There’s a well known white cottage on the shore of the lake that we were all eager to shoot, so we continued making our way around the edge of the water until reaching a stone beach, around half way along. From here the trees and bushes weren’t obscuring the view back down the water, and the whole end of the valley opened up – the late afternoon sun casting long shadows, bathing the hills in a warm light.
Whilst I’ve been to the Lake District many times before, and will do so again and again, this will definitely be one trip I’ll remember. The diverse mix of weather, from rain and fog to brilliant sunshine and sunsets, mixed with such a diverse range of landscapes made it feel like so much more than a 3-day trip. Using Keswick as a base and spending time with a lot of like minded people really helped to make it different from other trips and I’ve made a lot of good friends to plan future exertions with
As promised, here’s some links to the people I met over the weekend: