Photography Locations in the Central Lake District

The central Lake District covers the area around the popular tourist destinations of Ambleside and Grasmere. With so many wonderful locations to choose from it can be difficult to know where to start but you could do a lot worse than these six.

The Central Lake District

Centred around Ambleside and Grasmere the central Lake District is extremely popular with tourists. Don’t let that put you off however, it is popular for a reason!

Rugged mountains, tranquil lakes and chocolate box villages the central Lake District has it all.

Here it pays to be an early riser. If you are out and about at dawn chances are you’ll have the place to yourself, particularly during the summer months.

Grasmere

Allan Back over looking Grasmere in the central Lake District
Allan Bank, the former home of the poet William Wordsworth, over looking Grasmere

Grasmere is literary heart of the Lake District. It was once the home of the Lake District’s most famous former resident, the poet William Wordsworth.

Anyone exploring the lake will find countless compositions including the view of Wordsworth’s former residence, Allan Bank.

It is also worth considering Grasmere Island which creates wonderful reflections when conditions are still.

Parking: Lay-by on the A591

Walking: 1 mile on uneven paths.

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Loughrigg Fell

The view of Grasmere from Loughrigg Fell in the central Lake District
My favourite view in the Lake District; Grasmere from Loughrigg Fell

At just 335m Loughrigg Fell is the lowest in the central Lake District.

Anyone that tackles the modest climb to the summit is rewarded with wonderful views of the Langdale Pikes to the west.

Unfortunately you cannot see Grasmere from the summit. My favourite shot is from the rocky out crop about halfway up the fell.

Parking: Lay-by on the A591

Walking: 1 mile including a 225m ascent. Allow at least 45 minutes.

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Loughrigg Brow

The view north from Loughrigg Fell in the central Lake District
The view from Loughrigg Fell is worth the short climb from Ambleside

The view of Windermere from Loughrigg Brow is one of the most iconic in the whole of the Lake District.

This scene has everything: a drystone wall leading the eye into the frame. The huge expanse of Windermere stretching out into the distance. And wooden ladder which acts as a strong focal point.

The view is due south and so works well in winter at both sunrise and sunset. However, the climb up from Ambleside is not a trivial one and should not be attempted for the first time in the dark.

Parking: St Mary’s Church, Ambleside

Walking: 1 mile including a 175m ascent. Allow at least 45 minutes.

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Rydal Water

The boathouse on Rydal Water in the central Lake District
Rydal Water is a photographer’s paradise; the boat house is just one of many potential shots

Rydal Water is a photographer’s paradise. There are so many different shots and compositions to explore.

Arguably the most well known is the boathouse at the eastern end of the lake. If you are shooting from the opposite side of the lake you will need a focal length of at least 50mm in order to make the boathouse appear large enough in the frame.

When visiting Rydal Water is is also worth checking out the lone tree at the opposite end of the lake.

Parking: St Mary’s Church, Rydal

Walking: 800m on uneven paths.

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Elterwater and River Brathay

The River Brathay near Elterwater in the central Lake District
Visit Elterwater and the River Brathay and get 2 shots for the price of 1!

Any photographer visiting Elterwater is guaranteed value for money. Two for the price of one.

The view across lake is a classic. The trees on the far side seem to act as a cushion on which are perched the majestic Langdale Pikes. My advice? Forget foreground interest and reach for the telephoto.

When you have done shooting Elterwater it is no more than 100 yards to the River Brathay. You could spend a happy hour or two exploring compositions and not scratch the surface.

And that is why you’ll want to keep coming back time after time.

Parking: National Trust car park at Elterwater

Walking: 1 mile on good paths, short section of cobbles, possibly mobility scooter friendly

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Blea Tarn

Blea Tarn in the central Lake District
Side Pike and the Langdale Pikes reflecting in Blea Tarn

Viewers of BBC’s Country File will recognise Blea Tarn instantly from the program’s opening credits. On the right day the view across the tarn towards Side Pike and the Langdale Pikes is hard to beat.

Here the big decision is whether or not to include some of the rocks close to the shore as foreground interest. Generally, if conditions are still I ignore them and focus on the reflections.

When you are done shooting the tarn the short climb up Side Pike is one of the very best in the whole of the Lake District.

Parking: National Trust car park at Blea Tarn

Walking: 200m across boggy ground

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