The Western Lake District
Home to England’s highest mountain (Scafell Pike) and it’s deepest lake (Wast Water) the western Lake District is wild country. Here the pretty villages and tranquil valleys of the central Lake District give way to some of the most dramatic scenery that the UK has to offer.
Whilst the rest of the Lake District seems to get busier and busier with each passing year the western Lake District remains relatively quiet. It is a great place to escape the crowds and to find a little peace.
In 2007 ITV viewers voted Wast Water as Britain’s favourite view and it is easy to see why. The drama of the Scafell range combined with with menace of Wast Water’s icy depths is a photographer’s dream.
However, the weather here can be unpredictable. While the rest of the Lake District basks in glorious sunshine it is not uncommon for Wast Water to be shrouded in low cloud.
That is certainly what found last time I visited. Perhaps you will have more luck. 🙂
Parking: Lay-by beside the lake
Walking: 100m on grass, potentially mobility scooter friendly
The Buttermere Pines
There are fewer locations in the Lake District more picturesque than Buttermere. I since lap of the lake is a must for anyone visiting the area for the first time.
For the photographer there are may compositions to explore. However, very few can match the grandeur of the view of Fleetwith Pike and Haystacks.
I was once remarked that the trees that sit on the edge of the lake are amongst the most photographed in Britain but don’t let that put you off. This shot is a classic for good reason!
Parking: Gatesgarth Farm
Walking: 1 km on tarmac roads and uneven paths
The Buttermere Lone Tree
No location guide to the western Lake District would be complete without at least mentioning the lone tree of Buttermere.
Personally I have a love/hate relationship with this tree. Over the years it has been photographed so many times that I find it impossible to bring anything new.
Perhaps that won’t be a problem for long. The years have taken it’s toll on the tree and it is a shadow of it’s former self. If you want to get your own shot it’s probably best to try sooner rather than later.
Parking: The Fish Hotel, Buttermere
Walking: 1 km on tarmac roads and loose paths
From late spring throughout the summer access to the tree is closed to protect ground nesting birds.
Crummock Water is often overlooked in favour of its better known neighbour. This offers much scope to the photographer in search of something a little different.
There are a few classic shots to be had here so it is worth doing your research. It is the flora that keep me coming back to Crummock, most notably the yellow irises that flower around June and July.
Parking: The Fish Hotel, Buttermere
Walking: 800m on grassy paths and across boggy ground
Hard Knott Fort
Built around 130 AD during the reign of the Emperor Hadrian the fort at Hard Knott is a former Roman garrison.
Given that the site is nearly 2,000 years old it is remarkable that so much of the fort still remains. You can clearly make out the outline of the lower walls that were once the bath house, commander’s villa and garrison headquarters.
There is a lot to explore here, the stone ruins acting as foreground for the rugged peaks that surround the site. It is perhaps even the perfect place to have a crack at shooting a triptych.
Parking: Roadside parking on the Hard Knott Pass
Walking: 200m across rough and boggy ground
Given the remoteness of it’s location it is no wonder that Devoke Water is one of the less frequently visited of the ‘Lakes’.
Whenever I visit I, like many others, are always drawn towards the boathouse that sits at the eastern end of the lake. It just seems so out of place.
Many shoot it from the side but I prefer to walk around to the front and line it up with Seat How which towers ominously above.
Parking: Roadside parking on Austhwaite Brow
Walking: 1 mile on rough paths and across boggy ground