Little Langdale & Windermere
7th September 2016
Arriving well after nightfall on a Tuesday night, me and my buddy James headed down to the dark shores of Blea Tarn searching for some level ground to pitch our tent. As we descended a faint orange flickered from the banks, and we realised that we weren’t the only people seeking the solitude of a mid-week wild camp. We approached the warm glow and met two very like-minded adventurers, both working in the area, but opting for an evening shooting astro-timelapses and sleeping in a van, than the comfort of an Ambleside B&B. We stayed up story-telling and drinking our way through various bottles of liquor, before the warning of day appearing on the horizon told us that it was long past the time we should have been in bed.
Our early alarm only made the morning ritual more difficult, and nursing our hungover heads we rose, dropping the tent and starting out for the day. We were both eager to make the most of our time in the Lakes, and taking the trip with photography being the main focus made us hungry with anticipation. We drove the short distance to Little Langdale, before ditching the car and continuing on foot to our first location: the large caves of Cathedral Quarry.
I’d been tipped off about the location only a few hours before we left for the trip, and having only seen a couple of photos that the poor 3G of Cumbria allowed, this spot was unfamiliar to the both of us. We felt the cave’s presence even before we saw the small, dark opening in the rock. A chilling, lifeless air hung around us, with the kind of raw iciness that incites nerves and the fringes of fear. Donning our head torches we entered the narrow tunnel, into the darkness and the unknown.
Inside the space opened up into a wide chamber, with a central column of rock supporting the black ceiling forty feet above. A large opening in the upper half of the walls where the roof appeared to have caved in revealed lush green trees outside, and beamed light down onto the floor. Our decision to arrive early was rewarded, as the morning’s cool mist still hung in the cave, catching the light and creating an ominous atmosphere at every turn. We headed through another tunnel emerging into a rocky clearing, where many other tributaries of mine shafts darted off in all directions. With a good torch and a pair of wellies you could waste away time here, getting lost in the labyrinth of dark tunnels and overgrown clearings.
Leaving the depths of the dark caves behind us, and feeling refueled by an Americano from the local pub, we continued on towards Windermere, stopping at Colwith Force to explore the woodland and fast flowing water. I’d recently picked up and ND Filter, and was interested in experimenting with the much slower shutter speeds it offered, and this large waterfall provided a great opportunity. Climbing over the railings and descending down a slippery slope, I was able to place myself in the spray, right on the edge of the falls. Here I took a handful of photos, that really capture the energy and movement of the water, injecting life into the shot. I’m excited to see the capabilities of capturing motion, that can be achieved with this filter in the future.
By midday, we’d made our to the shores of Lake Windermere, and with the sun increasing the humidity, we relished the refreshing breeze of the long lake. After walking along the trail at the edge of the water, we returned to a large playing field and took to the skies. Drone photography is something I’m really new to, having only flown a couple of times before, but the way that it opens your eyes and mind through the change of perspective is mesmerising. For anyone with a love of the world and landscapes, being able to experience a virtual flight is a surreal experience. Bringing the bird back down, we retreated to the car, refuelling ourselves with lunch and studying the map for the afternoon’s exploration. We planned to head back into the mountains to try and get some vert and discover some of the larger waterfalls of the Langdale Valley