Landscape Photography in the Lake District

Escape to the Lakes

When a photographer friend of mine invited me to spend a couple of days shooting the Lake District in the height of autumn I literally jumped at the chance.  Over the last decade or so I had visited the Lake District a number of times with my family and enjoyed it immensely.  After all if you like the outdoors there really isn't much not to like about the Lake District.  This was going to be a different type of visit though.  This visit was going to be all about photography and I couldn't wait!

The plan was to spend two full days shooting various locations around the Keswick area taking in tarns, lakes, hills and of course the odd jetty.  Our only restriction was dates.  Free time for photography has to fit in around family and work time, so when we picked our dates we were committed, no matter the weather.  

November seemed to take an age to come round but when it did my levels of excitement had almost become palpable.    I had packed my stuff two days prior to departure and when I did hit the road the 300+ mile journey flew by.  I couldn't wait to get shooting but as I would soon find out, the Lake District weather was going to be typically British.  

High Brandelhow Landing

It was a 5:30 am alarm call on the first day and despite the lack coffee I was in high spirits and ready to get shooting.  Our first stop was High Brandlehow Landing, a pier on Derwentwater.  It's a classic Lake District composition with a pier but it was an ideal location to get the photography brain into gear.  

My first instinct was to shoot the pier vertically but I actually ended up preferring the horizontal version.  Using the Little Stopper at ISO 100, f/11 gave a 2 minute exposure but I was loosing the detail in the sky.   Setting the camera to ISO 200 gave me a one minute exposure maintaining some texture in the sky.

Stock Ghyll

Despite the sky being almost completely overcast it had been a reasonably successful start to the day.  After breakfast though the weather turned rainy so we decided to head into the woodland at Ambleside and walk along Stock Ghyll.  

Photographing Stock Ghyll was a real challenge as I spent most of the time clearing rain water from the camera.  I found it difficult to concentrate on my composition.  I later tried to shoot the waterfalls but couldn't really find a composition I liked.


After drying out over a pub lunch we took the short drive down to the southern end of the lake at Grasmere.  Though it had stopped raining the weather remained resolutely overcast which was a shame as there was barely a breath of wind and the reflections were stunning.

Lovely reflections, just a shame about the light.  This image is a 2:1 crop from the original frame.

Latrigg Fell

With a renewed sense of optimism on the morning of day 2 I headed down to the hotel lobby to meet my friend.  Unfortunately he was taking shelter from the down pour of rain.  Not to be put off we checked our respective weather forecast apps  and agreed that an ascent of Latrigg Fell could be rewarded with some nice light come sunrise.

The weather at dawn was not great but we dug in and waited.

As time progressed some splashes of light started to appear on Cat Bells.  This image is a 3:1 crop of a 9 vertical image panoramic stitch.

The dawn light struggled to get through the clouds but when it did it provided little moments of magic.  This is  16:9 crop from the original frame.

Castlerigg Stone Circle

While ancient stone circles don't necessarily offer a lot of interest for me, the location of Castlerigg Stone Circle is still an interesting location to shoot.  You don't necessarily need to include the stones in your compositions.  

Bad weather can work in your favour as well.  I just needed to wait for a break in the light which came and went in the space of seconds.  You just have to stand there with the finger on the shutter....waiting....till you get that fleeting moment of light.

As I've written about before, its important to look around to see what else is happening.  I was focused so much on getting the previous image that I almost missed this one. 

Tarn Hows

After our trip to Castlerigg we headed up to Ashness Bridge.  It was a short stop as no sooner had we got our cameras out it started to rain heavily.  So as we approached the end of day 2 we decided that we might try and catch last light at Tarn Hows.  The weather hadn't exactly been kind to us up to that point and unsurprisingly it didn't improve that much.

This scene just need a splash of light on the trees but it wasn't to be.

Cat Bells

I was due to make the long trip home the morning of the 3rd day, but I couldn't resist one more dawn shoot.  My friend had hit the road at 4am to go home, so as I was on my own I decided I would make the 450m ascent of Cat Bells.  Despite the the previous two days of poor weather, I remained optimistic as the weather forecast looked like it might produce some nice early morning light.

My vision for this image was to get some morning light break over the fell peaks (Robinson and Red Knot).  I waited and waited but this was as good as it got.  

As is often the case in the Lake District, the moments of good light are brief but wonderful.  This image of Rigg Beck and Causey Pike is a 3:1 crop from a single frame.

I was on my way down from Cat Bells and looking forward to breakfast but sometimes you just have to stop and unpack all your gear again.  The light on Lonscale Fell was too good to miss.

Fun but Challenging

There was no doubt that I was extremely excited about my trip to the Lake District.  Having seen so many autumnal images of the area I was keen to produce my own spectacular images.  However, as you can see from my images old mother nature had a different plan which mostly involved rain and overcast skies.  Even when it was dry there was very little of that magical light that you want to really lift a scene.  When it did rain I would just spend most of time trying to keep my gear and filters clear of water.  This can be infuriating and doesn't leave much time for the creative side of photography.

So was the trip a failure?  Of course not!  Yes, it was challenging, difficult and sometimes frustrating but I was in the Lake District, in autumn, with my camera.  Sure it would have been nice to have better weather but sometimes as a landscape photographer you have to work with what you get.  As I write this blog and look back at the photographs there is a lot to be happy about.  Those little breaks of light like I saw on Cat Bells, or the stormy sky over the trees at Castlerigg just goes to show that there is an image to capture in almost any weather condition.

For me landscape photography is also about the adventure, about being outdoors.  This trip was an adventure and I managed to capture some dramatic images of the Lake District, so I'm calling my trip a success!

Do you have a bucket list of locations or areas you want to shoot?  Have you turned up to a location and faced a few challenges?  Is there any type of weather you wouldn't go out in?  Let me know in the comments.

Remember to check out my Instagram and Flickr feeds so you can see even more of my images.  See you next time!