The Great Lakes

(Nick here, guest blogging while Frances is in Norway)

In case you were wondering, despite the title I haven’t been to Canada yet (I would love to go, but time and funds haven’t permitted to date). However we have our own great (small ‘g’) Lakes here in the UK, in the form of the Lake District National Park (green pin)

The highest mountain in England, Scafell Pike, is surrounded by glacial valleys leading off in all directions, forming a series of lakes, tarns, waters and meres, most of which have stunning mountain scenery as a backdrop. It’s an endless source of beautiful landscapes, so I go as often as I can. (In truth, there is only one ‘Lake’ that goes by that name – Bassenthwaite Lake, which is actually a man-made reservoir – most of the rest are meres, tarns, waters and reservoirs).

The largest of the lakes, and by far the most touristy is Windermere, which lies to the south and east of the region. I last visited Windermere with the family in April last year, and one evening I headed down to a jetty by the waterside that I had spotted on a walk earlier in the day, and took a gamble with a long exposure photo of the jetty, without a clue what I would see in the final photo. I knew there were a few stars, but I was not prepared for the layer of mist hanging over the water surface, or the orange glow from the other side of the lake (presumably from street lights).

I returned a few days later at sunset (once the cloud and rain that the area is famous for had cleared), now knowing just how photogenic the jetty was, and managed to catch the last of the orange light.

Not far from where we were staying is a small hill, Orrest Head, which was a pleasant if muddy climb, with lovely views over the lake, and the occasional Danny.

Towards the southern end of the lake, past the tourist hotspot of Bowness-on-Windermere, is another small hill called Gummer’s How. From the top of this peak the mist over the lake combined with the angle of the sun and created a surprising low rainbow hanging over the water surface,

Another popular area which is less touristy than Windemere is the town of Keswick, which sits on the banks of Derwentwater in the northern end of the national park. Castlerigg Stone Circle is just a short drive (or walk if you are so inclined) from Keswick, and sometimes if you get there early enough. you can catch an inversion layer where mist hangs over the Naddle Beck valley behind.

Later that same morning we headed to the lakeside in Keswick itself, as the mist was just starting to burn off the lake surface.

As Keswick sits on the eastern bank of Derwentwater, the sunset from the waters edge can be pretty special too. Even Danny enjoys having a good paddle when the sky is putting on a show.

On the same side of the lake as Keswick, but further south, there is Ashness Bridge, a small humpback bridge with a set of cascading waterfalls flowing underneath. It’s a fair way up a steep slope, so from the viewpoint near the car park you can look out over the whole of Derwentwater far below.

If you continue west from Keswick you get to Braithwaite, from where you can take a road through Keskadale down to Buttermere, with the famous Buttermere Pines at the southern end of the lake. I took this route early one morning, leaving while it was still dark, and catching the first hints of colour in the sky over the valley before the full light of the sun hit the Buttermere pines an hour or so later.

Half way through the dale is Moss Force, a waterfall tumbling down the back of Buttermere Fell that is an easy walk from the road.

The sheer variety of scenery in such a relatively small area is what keeps drawing me back to the Lake District time and time again, and more recently, I’ve enjoyed hiking up the many challenging fells that may not be as tall as what you can find in Iceland, but the views from the top are unbeatable.

9 thoughts on “The Great Lakes

  1. Terry

    Stunning photos I visited Scotland as a teenager (40 years ago!) and have been trying to talk my husband into a trip to your country. Perhaps these photos will convince him!

  2. Jeannie

    Fab photos and everything up said Nick was true.
    Over the years seen many stages of the lakes..your photos are great. Thanks

  3. John Davies

    Some wonderful pictures here Nick; especially the one with the rainbow in the mist! My father was a real Meteorologist and when we were camping in New Mexico we saw a similar effect one morning when we got up on a mountaintop! He explained it scientifically but I can recall just wishing the mist wouldn’t burn off so quickly! Good work!

  4. Louise

    Some stunning photos of places i have spent many happy hours, thank you! You should go up the Fells and photograph the Fell ponies in their natural environment there are only a few semi feral herds left in Cumbria x


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