Our last day of the 80 mile 8 day circular walk around the Lake District over all of the English 3000 foot mountains and as many others as I could reasonably fit into our route. Today was Coniston to Boot in Eskdale.
Once again we were on the hills by 9am heading up a steep track to the Walna Scar Road and across to the main route up the Old Man of Coniston. We had low cloud and Scotch Mist so no views and cold damp conditions. I took a shot on my phone of the old mine workings for a bit of light relief.
It took 2 hours but there were no views at the top as we walked along the summit ridge then dropped down to the saddle between the Coniston ridge and Dow Crag. We were a long way down before we saw anything at all.
We came down to the valley and stopped for a bite to eat. I photographed the misty view with cotton grass in the foreground as we moved off.
On to Seathwaite Tarn and down to the Dunnerdale valley. From here it was a punishing climb steeply upwards to the rocky summit of Harter Fell. It was 2.30 pm and we stayed on top for about an hour taking photos as the clouds lifted and thinned and the sun came out.
I took some photos on Ilford FP4 to the coast and then to Scafell as conditions improved using a red filter on the lens to emphasise the sky. I ended up with a shot that I will make into a panoramic with Scafell on the left and Crinkle Crags on the right. I also took it on my phone and edited it with Snapseed. It's often difficult to make skies as dark or contrasty as they will be when I print them, and I don't overprint them! I discovered that once converted to Black and White in Snapseed the Drama filter gave an effect similar to that produced by a red filter with traditional film.
From Harter Fell it was a steady walk down to the Woolpack Inn in Eskdale, the end of our trip! We celebrated in the sunshine with a couple of pints, Eastgate Ale then Oyster Stout.
Overall, it was a great trip, good walking, good beers, good food. I like multi-day walks, they allow you to see lots of different views every day with no need to retrace steps to reach new ground. Al's a good friend that I've known over 40 years and is always good company and most importantly he laughs at my jokes.
The weather could have been better on the big mountains but I still have some good new shots from 6 of the 8 days. I took 13 rolls of 120 film with 10 7x6 cm shots on each film, 12 rolls of Ilford FP4 and 1 roll of Ilford SFX infrared film.
Later we watched the opening match of the World Cup on the big screen in the bar, so there was a good reason for the delay in doing this post!
It was a late breakfast today, our Grasmere hotel didn't open the
breakfast room until 8.30 am. No good if you have a big day on the hills. Fortunately we didn't, it was almost a rest day walking to Coniston.
The forecast was for showers up to around 9am then wall to wall sun from 3 pm, sunny spells in between.
I decided to carry an extra lens, the 43mm wide-angle lens for my Mamiya 7 camera, to go with the 65mm lens. I also packed Ilford SFX infrared film and filters, only worth carrying on really sunny days. Ilford FP4 film is always in my camera case!
We left at 9.40 am (had to wait for Al to go and buy gingerbread at his favourite gingerbread shop) and it was dull and spitting with rain for the first hour or so.
We headed over to Elterwater, arriving at 10.40 am. Al tried to head straight for the door of the Britannia Inn but I managed to hold him back. Ten minutes later we were drinking our first pints of the day!
The shot of the Langdale Pikes from the shore of Elterwater is a classic so I was planning to take it again. Unfortunately, the mountains were in the clouds so we headed to the Skelwith Bridge Hotel to wait for the weather to brighten. It seemed churlish to just sit there so we had a pint to help pass the time.
It was brightening up as we left. Fingers crossed for photos at our next stop, Tarn Hows lakes.
We saw Spotted Flycatchers and then within an hour or so a Pied Flycatcher, both close beside the track.
It was dull at the lakes so we went round the long way hoping it would brighten. It did and I took a few shots. The sky started to break up so I put a light red filter on to darken it. It was a jolly nice day now.
We picked up our footpath heading for Coniston and spotted a series of waterfalls on Tom Gill stream. These were the last shots of the day. From here it was an easy few miles to Coniston. We decided we would have a pint to help cool down at the Crown Hotel before going to our b&b.
This evening we had to visit the Black Bull Inn, home of the Coniston Brewery. They do a jolly nice Special Oatmeal Stout.
7 days down with just one to go. Back to Boot in Eskdale tomorrow.
Today was 13.5 miles and a bit over 7 hours including pub and photo stops. Tomorrow we climb the Old Man of Coniston and return to the Woolpack.
Oh dear, we feared the worst. Rain forecast all day! It was supposed to be showery though so I packed my Mamiya 7 camera, Gitzo tripod and Ilford FP4 film.
The rain started as we stepped out of the hotel in Thirlspot, it obviously recognised us! It was very heavy for an hour or so, quite unpleasant as we climbed steeply.
Clouds were down on the tops so no views for the first 2.5 hours to the summit. Then a brief view of Catstye Cam before we reached the summit shelter. After a half hour flapjack break we moved off, I was hoping we might drop below the clouds as we descended, and we did.
Clouds stayed low but off most of the tops and the sun was moving across the view every now and then. I took lots of photos of Striding Edge ridge and Red Tarn. It was worth carrying all the camera gear after all!
As I was photographing the Edge a man slowly worked his way across to me from Striding Edge, I was well away from the main trail above some cliffs. We had a chat, turned out he had published a book of photographs of the battlefields of World War 1, he was Mike Sheils.
It closed in a bit and looked like a storm was about to strike but didn't. No more photos.
Down to Grasmere and Tweedies Bar. 8 beers on, we knew straight away we had our work cut out this evening!
Short day today at 7.5 miles and 3.5 hours. Just as well as about 30 minutes after leaving the Inn in Threlkeld a heavy shower forced us to put on full waterproofs. It rained for the next 3 hours.
I took one photo on my phone and nothing on my Mamiya 7 camera before the rain stopped all thought of photography. It's never that satisfying to carry 6kg of camera gear that isn't used! The rain came heavy as I was taking the photos of the lake and Google joined them up to make a short video to give you an idea of the conditions, reflection then rain bouncing off the lake surface.
We made our way to High Rigg, a small blip surrounded by big mountains. A great viewpoint for photos of Skiddaw, Blencathra and Helvellyn on a good day, but not today.
As if hours of rain wasn't enough the Snecklifter was off! Al was wet through, his waterproofs are not waterproof. His new Mountain Warehouse allegedly waterproof boots are also leaking like a sieve. He says he has mushrooms growing between his toes! Hopefully that's an exaggeration.
Oh joy! Snecklifter is on for this evening.
3 days to go. Tomorrow we climb Helvellyn our 4th and last 3000-footer. Grasmere tomorrow night. Mixed forecast so will carry Mamiya 7 camera and rest of gear just in case the shot of a lifetime presents itself.
So much for weather forecasts. Today the Met Office and BBC told us to expect heavy rain showers all day. In fact we had no rain at all and lots of sunshine. It was a great day on the hills!
Fortunately our hotel had a very efficient drying room so Al was able to dry his undies, and his boots ready for another day on the hills. We had separate rooms as they had no twins. That gave Al a problem - no alarm! He has a smartphone but it must be the only one in the world without an alarm! I sent a text to wake him up!
We headed for Skiddaw via Carl Side. Not many people on the route, obviously the masses had listened to the forecast and arranged to do something indoors.
I took my Mamiya 7 camera with the 65mm lens, Gitzo tripod and Ilford FP4 and hoped for some sunshine before all hell broke loose. I needn't have worried.
Good views down to Derwent Water on the way up. Bassenthwaite was well lit at times from the summit.
Jolly cold and windy on the top. Better views of Derwent Water on the way down via Little Man.
Sunny the last couple of hours to Threlkeld and the Horse and Farrier where we are staying. Good selection of beers including Jennings Bitter and Marstons EPA, as well as Snecklifter.
Al just tried to pinch my beer. Whatever next?
We are halfway through our 8 day trek and have walked 3 of the English 3000-footers. Just one to go, Helvellyn on Tuesday. Short day tomorrow.
No Wifi in Stonethwaite. What a disaster, no blogging tonight.
The forecast was for thunderstorms so we had an early breakfast to make sure we were on our way by 9am. We wanted to be off the high ground before the storms arrived.
It was quite a pull up to High Spy and before we reached the ridge the rain had arrived.
Rain and no visibility on the tops.
We headed for Maiden Moor and I was surprised by the view to Cat Bells. It was really impressive but needed better light. I took a photo on my phone as a reminder.
We made it to Cat Bells in time for our 1pm lunch booking! Flat light so no proper photos. Lots of people.
I carried my Mamiya 7 camera and Sekonik spot meter all day but didn't take anything. Fortunately I left out the second lens, tripod, filters and camera case to save my back!
We have a luxury hotel in Keswick including separate rooms and a 4 poster bed! Al should sleep well tonight (he whinged about me snoring last night keeping him awake - I think he has me confused with the person next door as I have never heard myself snore).
Jolly difficult to book just one night for the weekend of the Keswick beer festival. The festival is all ticket and we don't have any so we found a few pubs to compensate.
That's 2 big days out of 3 with bad weather and few photos. It's interesting that when I plan these trips I always imagine the walking days are in good weather. What's going wrong?
Friday 6th June 2014. What a contrast to yesterday, we awoke to wall to wall blue sky. Looked like the forecast was right!
Jolly good breakfast at the Wasdale Head Hotel, just what we needed before a big day on the hills. There were name plates on the tables and next to us was Mr C Limer, quite apt for such an important climbing area!
I took some drugs before leaving and wore my back support to help my back. Splitting the load by carrying my camera on the front and rucsac on my back helped enormously compared to yesterday when I carried everything in my rucsac.
We were on our way by 9am heading for Great Gable. There are some waterfalls that I have wanted to photograph for several years and today was the day!
They were a few hundred yards below the track between Great Gable and Kirk Fell. Close up they look very impressive, wide and about 50 feet high. It was a jolly steep grassy slope down to them so I definitely won't be using them as a location on our Lakes photo courses! I used a long shutter speed of 0.5 and 1 second to make the water streaky. Should be good.
We followed the track for quite a way before boredom set in and we made our own way across the hillside. It was steep with lots of loose rock to make it harder.
The main challenge on the way up was a long wide gully of scree and boulders a few hundred yards from Napes Needle.
I spotted a shapely rock and headed across to see if it looked better close to, it didn't.
Al stayed on the other side, just as well as he seemed to be swearing about me and my choice of route. Some people are just so ungrateful, it was a really quiet route up!
He soon crossed the scree to join me and it looked like he was up to his knees in scree, then I realised he was kneeling on the slope not part buried. What a relief, I was worried what digging him out would do to my bad back!
Jolly good views above the gully. I was using Ilford SFX infrared film for some dramatic effects, as well as Ilford FP4 of course.
Watched a rescue helicopter lift someone off the top close to Scafell Pike.
So many people on Great Gable, pleased I took my photos from the top before the place was overrun.
Onwards to Green Gable and a spectacular view to Buttermere and Ennerdale. Nice light too but a bit of haze so I used my new light red filter to cut through it. Fingers crossed it does the job.
It was now just 3.5 miles and 6 hours since we started, not exactly rushing.
We ended with a tricky walk down to Seathwaite past some spectacular waterfalls in Sour Milk Gill then an easy walk to Stonethwaite. We were in a b&b near the pub and we headed straight for........the pub!
4 real ales on and all on good form. Can't remember the rest of the evening.
Tomorrow we walk to Keswick along the Cat Bells ridge, thunderstorms permitting.
8.5 miles, nearly 5000 feet of ascent, 8 hours, lots of stops.
Today was our first day of the 8 day circular walk around the Lake District that I've planned.
I was hoping for some bright spells this afternoon so I carried my Mamiya 7 camera and Gitzo tripod in my rucsac. A total weight of 13kg, a lot more than I normally carry and my bad back noticed it straight away.
We left the Woolpack in Boot at 9am in the rain. The forecast was unfortunately correct!
As we climbed higher we were soon in the clouds with visibility of about 50 yards. We had no views at all until we dropped down into Wasdale at the end of the day.
We made it to Scafell at 12.15 but didn't linger as there was a cold wind with the rain. Dropped down to Foxes Tarn for lunch, Jan's home made flapjack with a couple of dihydrocodeine to help reduce the pain from my back.
The descent from here was dreadful, loose wet rock, jolly slippery. We detoured off about 50 yards to avoid one particularly bad steep section. Then up to Mickledore and Scafell Pike (highest mountain in England) by 2.15pm. Still no views. I took a Naproxen to help further reduce my back pain. It worked quite well.
I remembered that I needed a photo for this blog and asked Al to pose next to the summit trig point. What a mistake, 10 minutes later he'd done his hair and let me take the shot! I used a wide angle from a distance to avoid having Al's hair overpowering the shot.
The path down was very good, like a mountain motorway so we made good time.
We were soon below the clouds and I was looking for photos. We could see sunshine below and clouds around the tops were moving fast.
We stopped and I waited for the clouds to lift and thin. They duly obliged and I took a few shots towards Scafell and Mickledore.
The light improved as we descended and the next stop was some waterfalls with sunlit Wast Water lake in the background.
Then down to our hostelry for the night, the Wasdale Head Hotel. After checking in, collecting our luggage and dropping off our rucsacs we headed for the bar. Shock, horror, there was no Yewbarrow which is one of my favourite beers. The brewery is up for sale and not brewing at the moment. The Corby Noir and Jennings Mild are my replacements.
Tomorrow we walk over to Borrowdale and the forecast is great! Will take kitchen sink as far as camera gear goes including infrared film and filters.
I'm in the Lake District with good friend Al from Gloucester. We have joined up for our annual walking cum photography trip. We are walking for 8 days over the highest mountains in England, 75 miles in total, starting and finishing at the Woolpack in Eskdale.
Coincidentally this is also the day before the Boot Beer Festival begins but they have quite a few beers on already. What a stroke of luck!
Tomorrow we walk Scafell and Scafell Pike ending up in the Wasdale Head Hotel. Forecast is a bit iffy, hope they got it wrong.
Have so far tried 3 beers, the Goodhews Dry Stout is currently way in front of anything else we've tried. A jolly nice pint.
I have added some new images of Glen Coe to my web gallery on davebutcher.co.uk. Here's a link to just the new ones. They were taken over several trips in summer and winter, with and without snow. Hope you like them!