By all these lovely tokens September days are here, with summer’s best of weather and autumn’s best of cheer.Helen Hunt Jackson
We have just had a lovely holiday in our favourite spot in the English Lake District. We had pretty decent weather and got to walk out every day. We had occasional torrential rain, but fortunately, not at any times when it interfered with our plans. Some of the days were a bit grey and flat, which makes for lacklustre photographs, but we also had some spectacularly beautiful days, with bright sunshine and haze free, clear views, which more than made up for the rest. Some of the areas we visited looked as fabulous as I’ve ever seen them.
So this post is pretty much just about the photographs, so I’ve set it up as a gallery. Please click on any of the photographs to see a larger view. I’m trying a new gallery feature for such image-heavy posts, so the images all open in a simple pop-up ‘lightbox’. If you want to view them all in sequence, simply start with the first one and scroll through them using the left/right arrows at the edges. I have set it to display the images at random, so if you refresh the page, they will appear in a different order.
There are captions with the photographs that explain where they were taken etc. The lightbox re-sizes to a proportion of your browser window, so if you want to see them larger, go to full screen and they’ll possibly increase in size, especially the portrait images.
I’m always staggered by the long term effects of the passage of water on these rocks in the Duddon River at Birks Bridge.
I love seeing the geometry of piles freshly cut timber – it’s a shame that I can’t give you the fabulous smell too.
Blea Tarn and the Langdales were crystal clear and glorious.
A very ‘Alpine’ feeling walk through Whinlatter, north of Keswick.
The walk around Tarn Hows on a gorgeous day.
A Herwick ewe. They’re born with black wool and little pointy faces and their coat lightens and their faces round as they grow older.
Walking around Tarn Hows in the English Lake District.
A gorgeous sunset at the place we stay.
Herdwick sheep in the Langdales. They were curious, but I couldn’t get any closer.
The Lakeside end of Windermere taken from the base of Gummer’s How on a spectacularly clear day.
The waterfall in the river Duddon at Birks Bridge.
The Langdales on a just about perfect day.
I totally love beech woodland with a bit of sunlight filtering through.
A lovely spot on the edge of Grasmere where we always sit for a drink in the middle of our walk.
Exquisite tiny heather flowers.
I could see the sun twinkling through these beech trees and hoped that I could capture it.
The approach to Tarn Hows, as pretty as I’ve ever seen it.
We turned a corner one evening and were met with this most amazing light.
A lovely area of farmland we drove through near Keswick.
Windermere from near Wray Castle
We stopped for a rest in our walk on the shore of Grasmere and fed ducks and enjoyed the scenery.
A lovely walk through the trees at Whinlatter above Keswick. The heather was gorgeous.
I always see Fly Agaric mushrooms in the same place at the base of a very large conifer. These were just emerging so still pristine.
The walk to Sadgill at the end of the Longsleddale Valley.
I have a little bit of a fixation with gateposts and gates, especially ones with some age.
I love seeing fir cones on the trees, they’re as beautiful as any flower.
I loved the colours and assorted natural and man-made textures in this scene.
The thistles were also especially abundant this year.
Herdwick sheep, an iconic and familiar sight in the Lake District.
The furthest point in the walk around Tarn Hows, we always stop here on the seat to take in the scenery.
At was a totally glorious day when we waked around Blea Tarn.
A good number of the thistles will have a bee atop them.
The Langdales looked as fabulous as I’ve ever seen them, the light just made the textures and colours sing.
One of our favourite quiet spots to stop for lunch. I’ve seen deer and red squirrels in this spot.
Windermere as viewed from the base of Gummer’s How.
Lake District Panoramas:
Some of the vistas in beautiful places like this are very hard to do justice in a mere photograph, so I love creating panoramas by stitching together multiple individual and overlapping photographs to make a single very wide view. This requires the individual frames to be taken very carefully, with everything set manually (including focus and white balance), so details don’t change from one frame to the next to get a consistent join. If you’re interested in creating your own panos, I wrote a tutorial some years ago about my own technique, which is still pretty much how I do them now.
I note with each one how many frames form each image. The original master images are all in excess of 50 megapixels. In this gallery, they’ll open at the width of your browser window, even though they’re actually larger than you’re likely to see them, but if you want to see more details, there are links below to even larger versions which will allow you to scroll around the image to see more, as you’ll be seeing the image in the browser at exactly the size I uploaded it.
Tarn Hows on a fabulously clear and bright day. 4 landscape frames stitched.
A walk at the end of the Longsleddale Valley, heading towards Sadgill. 4 landscape frames stitched.
I wasn’t sure that the colour version of this pano worked very well, the light had been so flat and dull that day, so I tried it in black and white.
The Langdales on a fabulously sunny and clear day, the most perfect I’ve ever seen this scene. 5 portrait frames stitched together.
Blea Tarn in the Langdales on a pretty much perfect day. 5 landscape frames stitched together.
The bay at Arnside just before a very high bore tide. The weather deteriorated with the tide, so although the water looked better, the sky didn’t. 7 portrait frames stitched together.
One of my favourite areas of deciduous woodland to drive through – on the western shore of Windermere. 4 landscape frames.
This magnificent mature beech tree holds court over the younger trees around it in Penny Rock Wood near Grasmere. 5 portrait frames stitched.
This is a gorgeous spot in one of the walks around Whinlatter near Keswick. Thankfully there are lots of seats to sit and enjoy it. 5 portrait frames stitched.
Taken on the perimeter walk around Blea Tarn in the Langdales. 3 landscape frames stitched.
If, like me, you like looking at the details in large panoramas, I’ve also uploaded a bigger version of each image too – I’ve put them separately so that they don’t load unless you click the links, in case you’re on restricted data. They’re all in the region of 2.5 megapixels and around 3000 pixels on the long side and around a megabyte in data size, so they will take a moment or two to load. They’re in the same order as posted in the gallery above. Depending on your browser and settings, they may well load initially at a reduced size to fit the window, but can probably be clicked or swiped to enlarge and allow you to scroll to view it all.
If a June night could talk, it would probably boast it invented romance. Bernard Williams
We had an early summer holiday in the Lake District in June this year. We always try and get a week away before the school holidays; we’ve found that the weather in June in the north of the UK is usually pretty decent, often good and sunny, but without getting too hot and comfortably cool overnight. We had a varied mix of conditions this year, from glorious sunshine to torrential rain and it was certainly pretty cool, dropping to 4C overnight a couple of nights. Likewise, we’ve found September to be a good time too for the same reasons.
The air temperature was largely cooler than average, which whilst a little disappointing in terms of lacking in sunshine, made for perfect weather for walking which we like to do every day – at least on the days when it isn’t actually pouring down. We use those weather conditions as a perfect excuse to do very little.
One of the best aspects of being away in June is the lovely long evenings and being able to enjoy the views etc. once back at the caravan we hire. We get back from a lovely day out in the fresh air and we wash up the picnic lunch materials and prep it all ready for a repeat performance the following day. We ponder dinner and spend an inordinate time gawping at the views. Just simply enjoying the tranquility. It’s one of the important reasons why we prefer static caravans to cottages – the large panoramic windows which allow you to enjoy the outside view, even when in repose on a banquette. Even around midnight, there was lightness in the sky and enough light remained to make out features of the landscape, even with no artificial lighting whatsoever for miles.
I saw a TV nature programme some years ago and there was a chap there sitting on the banks of a river and he said his favourite activity was sitting still and gawping and that if you’re still and quiet, nature will simply come to you.
This struck such a resonance with me, it’s something I’ve always loved to do – just to be still and observe with all of your senses. It’s one of the most restorative and rewarding ways you can spend your time, although I know that some people would simply find it dull. But that’s just fine with me, as it means they’re not competing with me for suitable spots to gawp. I also suspect, as I’ve posted previously, that it’s an activity that becomes more attractive with age, only then can you truly appreciate the value of peace and stillness.
The long evenings gave good opportunities to gawp – and as is often the case, even on the days when the weather wasn’t that good, the evenings came lovely, with lovely golden evening sunshine. Just outside the caravan is a feeding post for the bids and the owner provides good supplies of food. Because of the time of year, there were several families of recently fledged birds for our entertainment, including jays and woodpeckers.
We found that the larger birds tended to land first on a tree trunk at the corner of the plot and then hesitantly make their way to the feeders, as long as we made no noise or movement to spook them.
So we thought it was worth trying to put some food on the tree trunk itself and within minutes, it paid dividends. The greater spotted woodpeckers were obviously a family, with the pair and at least one juvenile. The parents would seemingly visit, break up the peanuts we left, cram their beaks full and take them off to feed their brood. At one point, we did see three of them together at the trunk, so the youngsters were certainly capable of feeding themselves by this stage.
Getting photographs of such timid birds is always a bit of a trial as they are so easily spooked, the slightest movement or sound will cause them to leave rapidly, so the only way I’ve found over the years to be successful, is to set everything up in advance, eliminating anything other than minimal movement to take the shot.
This was how I managed to get these frames, by setting the camera up on a pod in the window and pre-focusing, so that I only needed to fire the shutter.
The male, as shown, liked to grab a peanut from the top of the trunk, take it down the side to a little perch, where he would break it up against the bark, fill his beak with the broken pieces and take them off to feed his youngsters.
We also had visiting jays to the tree trunk, but their method was more snatch and grab. They’d swallow down whole peanuts, presumably into their crop, then fly off once they had a dozen or so. We assumed that they then regurgitated these for youngsters, or cached to return to later. I wasn’t aware until I saw them do it, that they do in fact cache food when there is a good supply, a practice that stems from their favourite time-limited food of acorns.
We both noted on several occasions that they were seen pulling up tufts of grass and at first, we wondered if they were nesting for a second brood. But I later caught one of them revealing just what he’d used the grass for.
In the grassed lawn area outside the caravan there must have been a nice little neat round hole, about 3 inches deep and the same in diameter – whether the birds made it, or just found it left from some other activity, but they’d filled this with peanuts and must have used the plucked grass to cover it over. I watched the bird shown left remove the grass covering and then proceed to swallow at least a dozen whole peanuts. He clearly didn’t want to give away his hidey-hole as he spent a lot of time looking over his shoulder and being furtive. Apparently, once acorns are available, they can do this with many thousands of acorns.
When stopped one afternoon in a favourite spot, I saw a movement on the wall outside the car and saw a mouse moving about amongst the stones of the wall, something we see often with this type of wall, the space amongst the stones must make really good lodgings for small mammals. I noted where the mouse had vanished into the stones, so took out some sunflower hearts to see if he would come out for them, which he did within a handful of minutes.
He ate his way through a considerable quantity of them, before deciding to take some off to cache. Whilst away from the food, I saw a movement in a slightly different position and a shrew appeared and helped himself too – but the mouse wasn’t for sharing and chased him off at speed. And they continued between them in snatching food and chasing each other for some time. When we left I put some more food out and in several other positions too and when we passed that way the following day, it had all gone. I think it’s a fair exchange if I put down a handful of food in payment for my entertainment.
I’ve always loved taking landscape and panoramic photographs, but I’ve got lazy about it recently as my old computer wasn’t really up to stitching the much larger modern digital files, so I had got out of practice. We found ourselves at Arnside as we were coming home and it had rained very heavily in the morning, but the cloud now lifted, giving rise to a glorious warm and bright afternoon – and the lovely clear atmosphere that follows a cleansing downpour. There’s a large vista to view on the sea front at Arnside, so I took some frames for a panorama.
This is my favourite of them, stitched from 3 photographs. If you click on the photograph below it will lead to a much larger version – they need to be viewed at a decent size to fully appreciate the area they cover. The linked image is 174Kb and 1634 x 480 pixels.