Photography Locations in the Northern Lake District

The northern Lake District is centred on the area around the busy market town of Keswick. Derwent Water is one of my favourite locations to shoot and features no fewer than 3 times in my guide to the northern Lake District.

The concrete jetty at ISthmus Bay on Derwent Water in the Northern Lake District

The Northern Lake District

The northern Lake District is centered around the busy market town of Keswick. An important commercial centre there has been a market in the town for over 700 years.

The skyline is dominated by Skiddaw and the unmistakable hump of Blencathra, known affectionately in these parts as Saddleback.

Derwent Water is one of my favourite locations to shoot and features no fewer than 3 times in my guide to the northern Lake District.

Strandshag Bay on Derwent Water

Strandshag Bay on Derwent Water in the northern Lake District
The view of Catbells from Strandshag Bay

My first location on Derwent Water is probably the most accessible. It is just as short walk from the Lakeside Car Park, past Friars Crag to the delightfully named Strandshag Bay.

From here the view across the lake towards Catbells is unrivaled. Shooting across such a large expanse of water means that success here depends on being able to find an interesting foreground to anchor the shot.

The lighting here can be difficult. The mountains to the east often block the rising sun so whilst there might be light on Catbells the foreground will usually been in shade. For this reason I tend to limit my visits to bright, overcast mornings.

Parking: Lakeside Car Park, Keswick

Walking: 800m on loose paths; largely mobility scooter friendly

View the location map.

Isthmus Bay on Derwent Water

The concrete jetty at Isthmus Bay on Derwent Water in the northern Lake District
You need to be quick if you want a shot of the concrete jetty at Isthmus Bay, I am not sure how much longer it will be here.

The main reason that photographers visit Isthmus Bay is for the old concrete jetty. This crumbling relic provides a stark contrast to the beauty of the fells on the opposite side of the bay.

Many photographers like to include all of the jetty in the frame. However, because of my minimalist approach I generally choose just to include the end.

I am not sure how much longer the jetty will be here. Over the last few years it has deteriorated noticeably. If you fancy bagging this shot it is probably best to try sooner rather than later.

Parking: Lakeside Car Park, Keswick

Walking: 500m on grassy and loose paths

View the location map.

Otterbield on Derwent Water

Otterbield Island on Derwent Water in the northern Lake District
The view of Blencathra from Otterbield on Derwent Water

Otterbield is on the western edge of Derwent Water, at the foot of Catbells. It’s locations, on the opposite side of the lake from Keswick, means that it is often quieter than both Strandshag and Isthmus.

Most of the compositions here look north east towards Keswick, Latrigg and Blencathra.

However, my favourite shot is that of Skiddaw. On a clear, still morning I would argue that there are no finer views in all of Lakeland. Unfortunately this particular shot still alludes me.

Parking: Car park at the foot of Catbells

Walking: 1 mile on tarmac roads and rough paths including a 100m descent

View the location map.

Catbells

The summit of Catbells in the northern Lake District
Dawn from the summit of Catbells over looking Derwent Water

Catbells is one of the most popular fells in the Lake District, and for good reason. For such a modest effort the views are unrivaled.

The climb from the road takes just 45 minutes. Caution is required when climbing in the dark for sunrise however. There are a few tricky parts with the potential to catch you out.

From the summit the view of Derwent Water and Keswick would be enough for more people. Throw in the mountains of Skiddaw and Blencathra and you have something truly special.

Whilst the main shot may be to the north don’t forget to check out the Derwent Fells to the south west before you leave.

Parking: Car park at the foot of Catbells

Walking: 1 mile on rough paths including a 330m ascent

View the location map.

Castlerigg Stone Circle

Castlerigg Stone Circle in the northern Lake District
Cumbria is well known for it’s stone circles – Castlerigg is probably the most famous

Cumbria is well known for its stone circles and Castlerigg is probably the most famous of them all.

Historians believe that it was erected around 3,000 BC which makes it nearly as old as Simon Booth! Unlike the concrete jetty at Isthmus Bay you probably haven’t got to rush to photograph this one!

This is definitely a location that is worth visiting at sunrise. Around Easter time the low sun lights up the furrows in front of the stone circle creating some wonderful foreground interest.

Parking: Lay-by on the road close to the stone circle

Walking: 1oom on grass, mobility scooter friendly

View the location map.

Thirlmere

Thirlmere Reservoir in the northern Lake District
The summit of Helvellyn from Thirlmere Reservoir

Thirlmere Reservoir sits alongside the A591 that links Keswick with Windermere in the southern Lake District.

Despite it’s location it is one of the less photographed of the ‘lakes’. Most people speed past on their way to and from Grasmere and Ambleside. This is a shame because it is one of the most atmospheric locations that the Lake District has to offer.

Surrounded on both sides by high mountains the reservoir feels claustrophobic and oppressive. This is a location that definitely benefits from a moody sky.

Next time you are hurtling along the A591 why not stop and check it out for yourself?

Parking: Car park close to the dam at the northern end of the reservoir

Walking: <1oom on tarmac roads, steps down to the reservoir

View the location map.

12 thoughts on “Photography Locations in the Northern Lake District”

      1. Melvin, unfortunately the road was closed again following the storms last year. It brought down a load of trees and they still haven’t been cleared. 🙁

    1. Steve, last time I was there (back at the beginning of February) it was still closed. They don’t appear to be in a hurry to get it reopened. I believe the Stockhow Bridge car park at the southern end of the reservoir is still open.

  1. Oh. I had no idea and the road is still closed Chris.

    That’s very poor indeed especially after having to wait nine months for them to reopen it after the floods of Dec 2015. How many trees have fallen for someone not to consider it a priority to reopen it especially as the tourist season has now begun. It’s such an important road for the Lakes.

    1. I couldn’t agree more Melvin but just to demonstrate how bad they are around here the bridge at Burneside which was damaged in the 2015 floods is still closed essentially splitting the village on 2!

    1. Cheers mate, I think I should probably update the entry on Thirlmere to point out that it’s currently closed just in case people don’t get down to the comments section. Enjoy Iceland.

  2. Ya cheeky young bugger! If your gonna poke fun at me, you’d better get your natural history facts in order. Those geese don’t bugger off in the summer, they are naturalised in-spite of them being called Canada geese. Stick that in yer pipe and smoke it! 🙂
    There are however, some wild Canada geese that visit the UK in the winter from Scandinavia, but you would be unlikely to see them in the Lakes.

    1. Touche! That’ll teach me. Beaten by a superior intellect. If that is the case is there anything to suggest that they are especially noisy at this time of year? Certainly seems like that to me. Of course none this covers up the fact that one has rather made a tit of ones self. Not for the first time and certainly not the last.

      1. They’ve probably got ladies on eggs not too far away so when the males get near each other, they try to out honk one another! That’s my guess! Either that or young males with no ladies – and we’ve all (hetro men that is) experienced that problem!

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