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Lake District Photography Tour: the Western Lakes

Last week I headed to Wasdale Head for six days of camping, hiking and photography. I found a few stunning spots for Lake District photography that I wanted to share.

Wast Water

Location: NY 168068; 54.4498, -3.2841

Wast Water is England’s deepest lake and lies in the shadow of its highest peak, Scafell Pike. It’s a beautiful location with plenty of parking points along its western shore, and a popular calling point for Lake District photography trips.

The photo below was taken on a July evening at around 9pm in the location shown on the right. There’s a small, free car park on the other side of the road, so you don’t have to lug your gear very far.

I used a combination of long exposure and HDR techniques (read my long exposure tutorial here). Having found the right scene – the balance of mountains in the background and the interesting rocks in the foreground – I set up the camera on a tripod and took three 60 second exposures at different exposure values (+1, 0 and -1). Once back in civilisation, I used Lightroom to merge the three RAW files into a single HDR image, and with a few more tweaks the result is shown below.

A long exposure photograph at dusk showing the mountains Great Gable, Lingmell and Scafell Pike above Wast Water in Cumbria, from my Lake District photography tour.
Great Gable, Lingmell and Scafell Pike, from Wast Water in the Lake District

Hardknott Pass

Location: NY 229014; 54.4027, -3.1886

The steepest road in England, the last time I visited this pass I managed to get a flat tyre and end up stranded in the pouring rain in the middle of the night! This time I was there for some more classic Lake District photography, and the trip was a little more pleasant.

I had gone intending to lake pure landscape shots, but thought I’d snap a few of the cyclists making the challenging ascent while I was there. When this particular individual got off his bike to walk the last few metres, I realised it made for a great photo – and this is the result. (I did offer to share the photo with the cyclist, but he was a little unimpressed that I’d got him walking and not riding!)

A landscape photograph of a cyclist pushing his bicycle towards the top of Hardknott Pass in the Lake District, with the valley behind, from my Lake District photography tour.
Nearly there! A cyclist struggles to the top of Hardknott Pass on a windy day in the Lake District

Burnmoor Lodge and Burnmoor Tarn

Location: NY 183043; 54.4282, -3.2595

A relatively easy walk up from Wasdale Head takes you to the picturesque Burnmoor Tarn and Lodge between the Wasdale and Eskdale valleys.

The lodge appears deserted and currently has some unfortunate scaffolding against one wall – but embrace it and it’s a beautiful spot.

A landscape photograph of Burnmoor Lodge and Burnmoor Tarn from my Lake District photography tour.
Burnmoor Lodge and Burnmoor Tarn, Lake District

Tarn Hows

Location: SD 327997; 54.3892, -3.0375

Tarn Hows is a truly picturesque area of the Lake District a couple of miles north of Coniston. It’s a gorgeous spot that can be included on a longer walk in the area, or you can drive directly there. A lot of work has been done to make it accessible: there’s a wheelchair- and pushchair-friendly path that circuits the tarn.

There are also a number of friendly ducks and geese. If you sit nearby and rustle some food bags, they’re sure to approach – and as this photo of a Greylag Goose shows, they’re not shy!

A photograph of Tarn Hows from my Lake District photography tour.
Tarn Hows, Lake District
A close-up portrait of a Greylag Goose staring at the camera at Tarn Hows, from my Lake District photography tour.
Greylag Goose, Tarn Hows

Blea Tarn

Location: NY 293044; 54.4301, -3.0910

It’s one of the most photographed spots in the Lake District for a reason. With the Langdale Pikes in the background, Blea Tarn is a great location for classic Lake District photography. And once you’re done with the camera, you could even take a dip…

There’s a National Trust car park very close by – just remember to bring some coins as it’s pay-and-display.

A landscape photograph showing Blea Tarn and the Langdale Pikes on a sunny day with blue skies, from my Lake District photography tour.
Blea Tarn and the Langdale Pikes
A landscape photograph of a trail heading uphill towards the Langdale Pikes from my Lake District photography tour.
Path to Langdale Pikes, Lake District

Scafell Pike Hollow Stones Route

Location: NY 208076; 54.4583, -3.2219

There are plenty of stunning viewpoints on the various routes up Scafell Pike: read my route blog here. The photos below were taken on the Hollow Stones route up from Wasdale Head, as shown on the right.

It’s a beautiful path with views of Wasdale Valley and Wast Water below. Even when the summit is covered in cloud, you’ll often have clearer weather down below.

A landscape photograph showing a lone hiker resting on a rock on the Scafell Pike Hollow Stones route with Wast Water, from my Lake District photography tour.
A hiker rests overlooking Wasdale Valley
A panoramic photograph of the path up Scafell Pike from Wasdale Head, showing Wast Water in the background, from my Lake District photography tour.
The path to Scafell Pike from Wasdale Head

National Trust Wasdale Campsite

Location: NY 182075; 54.4569, -3.2624

Finally, I stayed at the National Trust Wasdale campsite to explore all these areas. The site is at Wasdale Head, at the northern end of Wast Water, and in the shadow of Great Gable, Scafell Pike and the surrounding peaks.

It’s an ideal base for a Lake District photography trip and makes you ideally situated for walks up Scafell Pike and Great Gable and to explore the western Lakes. What’s more, an awful lot of thought has clearly gone into its development. The facilities are great – good hot showers and plenty of them, lots of shady trees and drinking water points throughout the site. There’s even a freezer for your freezer packs. What’s more, the site is so well designed that it’s virtually impossible to see any of the tents from the surrounding hills. It’s a marvel of low impact tourism, and a great example of the National Trust’s brilliant work.

Check out the National Trust campsite details here.

Lake District photography – where are your favourite spots?

I’d love to hear your suggestions below.

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This Post Has 2 Comments

    1. Hi Jack. It was three 60-second exposures at f/11 and various ISO, combined in Lightroom into an HDR image.

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