I've heard a lot of photographers saying that they have lost their mojos at the moment and there motivation is at an all time low. I have to admit that I've been feeling the same myself recently. Photography can take a great deal of effort at the best times and even more so in the summer months. extremely early sunrises, late sunsets and less than ideal weather conditions all play there part. Thats before we mention the summer greens and all manner of wee nasty bity insects, its a bit of a tough gig in the summer. The weather has been pretty uninspiring for the best part and as a result I find it difficult to set the alarm for 2.00am. I've also got a little tired of visiting the same old locations. It's all contributed to my motivation going right out of the window. I needed a pick me up, I needed to rediscover that buzz that photography brings to me. So I decided to plan a photography day trip, a sunrise to sunset epic in a location I don't visit as often as I should......the glorious Buttermere in the North Western Lake District. If that couldn't get my juices flowing then nothing would.
The classic view looking over Buttermere towards Fleetwith Pike, Haystacks and the Buttermere Pines.
It was a 3am alarm call and a 1hr 30 minute drive to Buttermere. The plan was to spend a little time on the shore at Buttermere for sunrise, as I wanted the classic shot of Fleetwith Pike and Haystacks for the shop and gallery as its a popular view. I was then going to hike up to Warnscale Bothy and finally hike across the High Stile Range, which is a classic ridge walk across three fells. The ultimate plan was to finish the day on Red Pike, the final fell on the ridge for sunset, a location I've wanted to visit for some years. I arrived at Buttermere at about 4.30am, around an hour before sunrise and made the short stroll down to the shore. I was greeted with choppy waters and a distinct lack of clouds in the sky, which was a little disappointing. Anyway, I had time so I had my breakfast and a brew to bring me around. There was some nice wispy mist developing and I sat and watched as is rolled across the water but while it looked nice, It wouldn't have translated well on camera. Eventually after about about an hour of waiting and hoping the water calmed, the light came and some clouds had developed in the sky and it looked wonderful and was just the shot I was after. I stayed around and enjoyed the lovely view and warm sunshine while I chatted to some other photographers. A great start to the day before heading back to the car to get stocked up for my hike to Warnscale Bothy.
Great Gable Moods: The view from Fleetwith Pike towards Green Gable, Great Gable, Scafell, Kirk Fell and the path to Haystacks
Once I'd restocked my food, I started to make my way up to Warnscale and it was still only 8.30am. I decided to take a slight detour and head up to Fleetwith Pike first as I'd never been and it would only add a mile or so onto the journey. The sun was fully up at this time and it was absolutely roasting but I made good time and got to the summit of Fleetwith Pike at around 9.30am...one fell down and three to go. The view looking over Buttermere is absolutely gorgeous and I took a few snaps while enjoying some water and a quick snack. I then started to head back towards Warnscale, stopping every so often to take a couple of snaps. My favourite being this one looking to Green Gable, Great Gable and Scafell. The light was so changeable and pretty decent considering the sun had been up for over 4 hours, but the moody skies helped to diffuse the light a little and added nice contrast. I arrived at Warnscale Bothy at around 11.00am, had my lunch and then set up and waited. I spend a good 2 and a half hours sitting in the sun watching the world go by and chatting to folk. I occasionally took the odd image as well in between the people watching and chatting. It was great fun watching the changing light over the amazing view in front of me. I took a couple of nice images, again the sun was a little harsh but the clouds did a great job of softening the light. Another image I've been after for a while and think it will do well in the shop and gallery.
Room with a view: Warnscale Bothy sits high above Buttermere and offers on of the best views in the Lake District.
I then made my way back to the car to pick up more food and water for my sunset hike up to Red Pike and the High Stile Ridge. Once restocked I started my walk around 3.00pm, I was expecting for it to take me a good couple of hours to get along to Red Pike. The route up is easy going at first but then this gave way to a steep rocky path which took you to a col in between High Crag and the Seat. It was at this point that I got caught in a torrential down pour. The wind had really picked up and the clouds where sweeping off the summits, it had changed in a matter of minutes from warm and sunny to pretty harsh conditions. I slowly made my way up the sharp zig zag path which leads to the summit, all the time being battered by the wind and rain. The stepped path then gave way to a well eroded scree path which was pretty unstable under foot for the final push to the summit of High Crag, the first fell of three. It was a bit of a grim picture when I got to the summit, as I nervously looked over the rain and wind swept ridge towards what should have been High Stile, however it was shrouded in cloud and I really wasn't happy to continue in these conditions. So I found shelter and had a drink and some food and prayed that it would clear. After around half an hour the cloud started to lift and I could now see the summit of High Stile, as the sun came out I set off across the ridge with renewed hope. The views were starting to open up again and it was really enjoyable walking across the ridge, with some steep drop offs and dramatic crags either side. After around half an hour I reached the summit of High Stile in lovely sunshine and got the first sighting of the jaw dropping view of Crummock Water, which I'd wanted to shoot for years. I was absolutely blown away...a perfect place to stop, have a snack and take in the view.
Looking back from High Stile towards the ridge leading to High Crag, the half way point of my hike. Great Gable and the Scafells just visible behind the clearing cloud.
The view out over Newlands Valley and towards Keswick from the summit of Red Pike.
The Scafells. Looking across to Englands biggest mountains. Taken from High Stile.
I spent around half an hour on High Stile exploring as it is a really interesting summit with endless compositions. I was still sometime out before sunset, so I decide to check Red Pike out and at least finish the ridge and then make a decision on sunset location. So off I tootled, only a 20 minute walk to Red Pike and the sun was shining so it was all good. Arrived at Red Pike and while the view was stunning, I have to admit to being a little underwhelmed. There wasn't a great deal of foreground interest. So I decided to head back to High Stile, as the summit had a lot more going on and I was confident of finding a better composition plus I was then already half way along the ridge for the homeward journey. It was still a good 2 hours before golden hour when I arrived on High Stile...again. I spent around 45 minutes playing around with various compositions and trying to find the best angle possible. The biggest issue I was having was getting the whole of Crummock Water in the shot, as at most angles the bottom left is cut off by the fells in front. Anyway, eventually I found a nice spot, where I had the whole of Crummock in shot and some really good foreground rocks, which I really think represented the ruggedness of the mountain. So all set up, test shots in the bag, I just kicked back, had my tea (3 pork pies) and chilled out on a rock waiting for the golden light.
Mission Completed: The shot I came for - Crummock Water from High Stile. Absolutely stunning.
So we crept into Golden hour and I really didn't have to wait too long to get the image I wanted. The wind had dropped and it was absolutely silent, the light was lovely and golden and it was washing across the Western fells, it was a joy to be up there. The light was really playing ball now and it lit my foreground perfectly, the intention was for the sun to light the rocks to my right and then the bigger rock in the centre, which helped to lead the eye up to the gorgeous view. The light lasted around 25 minutes into golden hour and then the sun dipped behind some hazy cloud on the horizon and that was it for the light. With a long walk back to the car and happy with my lot, I decided to pack up and head home. I got back to the car around 10.30pm and I was absolutely knackered but its fair to say I was absolutely buzzing. I hadn't had this much fun out with my camera for ages and the day will live long in my memory. Its just what the doctor ordered and I couldn't wait to get home and see the images I'd taken, as I was really hopeful I'd bagged a couple of keepers. Yes I was a huge effort but well well worth it and my mojo was well and truly back. I can't wait for the next adventure. So next time I'm feeling down in the dumps, I will remember this day and remind myself that making the effort is always worth it in the end, if I'd stayed at home and felt sorry for myself then I wouldn't have had this wonderful day that will live long with me for some time.