Lake District is a magnificent place. Besides me losing a quarter of my leg in a ‘life or death’ battle with a polar bear whom I beat with the pencil I kept in one of my pockets, I had a magnificent time. The trip did not turn out to be so much of a photography trip as it was raining, snowing and hailing on most days.
My trip turned out to be a rough endurance of the unforgiving elements. Which, in of itself, was a great thrill for me. Although there were moments I was doubting my decision and swearing at the universe. The moments were short lived.
On the 9 hour coach up to Lake District, I realised that it is going to take me through the national park rather than around it. So, I decided to jump off in Keswick rather than heading all the way to Cockermouth. My decision was based not only on my inability to sit down for any longer but also the convenience of the journey. Although, these towns are only a few miles apart. Keswick is withing the Lake District national park where as Cockermouth is on the outskirts.
On the day that I arrived, the weather was beautiful, skies were clear and stars were shining brightly. Unfortunately, I did not have time to take photos as it was way past sunset and my priority was to find a suitable site to camp and gain some rest before the long journey.
Shortly after setting up camp it began to rain. From that moment forward, it did not stop for longer than half an hour per day. The intensity of the downpour changed but for the first six days, there was not a day that it stopped. The winds came out to play after my second night – and Lord knows that they were brutal. I began my third night by constantly having to re-peg my tent and woke up the following morning on a significant puddle under it. Everywhere was flooded, new rivers emerged from the mountains – and I was in the middle of it all.
I watched the puddle under my tent get larger and larger while debating with myself if I should move the camp through this storm or try to wait it out until the following morning – to be met with uncertainty. It was clear that I had to power through it and find a campsite elsewhere in the mountains. I looked at my map and saw that I was roughly 8 miles from Buttermere. Although it would include a few miles of backtrack before a steady climb up into a high valley – I decided to head that way with high hopes to reach the town by sundown.
That, of course, did not happen. By the time I reached the peak of the valley, it was dark, I was tired, rains turned into hail and winds blew me sideways. I had to find a flat spot and set up camp in the worst possible area. This night was my first moment of hatred towards all things under the sun. After having to set up the tent in the winds of God knows how many MPH, climbing into my wet tent and drying it off before a miraculous discovery that most of my backpack contents got wet including my clothes, sleep mat and a portion of my sleeping bag, I was furious.
The following day, I got up early and headed towards Buttermere with the hope that there would be a launderette of some sort. Perhaps, a bus that would take me further into the national park. I lost so much time in the bad weather and I needed to make up for it. Unfortunately, there wasn’t any of that. Busses start running from May and town is too small for communal launderettes.
A good lady at the local tea room pointed me towards a hostel and a campsite nearby. So, I headed for the campsite. There, I stayed alone for two nights drying off all the contents of my backpack, inside the communal cabin. Every single thing was soaked, from my clothes to my camera. Even my waterproofs were not waterproof enough to withstand three days of rain.
I used the time at the campsite to regain my energy. I read and ate a lot. Also, I finally polished off and attached a handle to one of my blades. That’s something I have been meaning to do for quite some time, I just have to die the wood now.
After my stay at the campsite, I managed to find a fella who was willing to drive me back to Keswick. From Keswick, I took a bus down to Windermere where I spent the first night in the hostel. There I met two very nice travellers with amazing stories. The following three days, the weather had improved. Although winds were strong and on one of the days it snowed and rained. I tried to spend my time focussing on photography rather than survival. After all, it was the images that I wanted the most. It was far easier to focus on the image making when you’re not lugging around a massive backpack. So, on two out of three days, I left my backpack at the hostel and took buses to various areas where I thought it would make a good image.
Because I only had two days where it did not rain or hail, I didn’t manage to take many images. Which, really is a shame. I was hoping to get some of my best work from Lake District but I guess something else out there thought otherwise. At least during my this trip.
During my stay at Windermere. On the good days, I woke up early and took a bus to a variety of locations and walked back towards town, whilst heading off-road, climbing mountains and exploring the landscape. The scenery out there is absolutely stunning and I saw so many compositions that could have worked so well. If only the weather had been cooperating with me.
The issue with landscape photography often is that we have no control over certain important aspects, such as light and to some extent subject matter. Arriving upon a scene and attempting to capture it, you can’t help to wonder how it would be. If the sun was in a different location, the clouds presented a different formation or how the light shining on any particular part of the landscape could affect the image. Hence we always have to keep on going back under different conditions and times of the day. Sadly this was not and option I was presented with this time.
I absolutely love Lake District. In fact, I want to move out there. I am seriously considering to get me a driving license and move to Lake District area to spend the remainder of my time in England. The people are amazing, they are friendly. The costs are reasonably lower and a good amount of work seems to be going around. But, for now, that is just dream talk.
One thing for certain is that I will be heading back there in the next few months purely for taking images. Stay at a campsite or a hostel and travel only with my camera.