16 Sep 2015

The English Lake District in September

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.

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.

Larger versions:

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.

5 Mar 2011

Fresh air, peace and quiet – just how we like it!

As regular readers will know, I am totally besotted with the English Lake District and spend as much time there as bank balances and work schedules will allow. We weren’t expecting to spend any time there until our regular Easter holiday but a lovely opportunity to do some photography work up there, as a return favour I owed someone, came out of the blue and at short notice, but it didn’t take much effort for me to be persuaded.

Between the work I had to do we did manage some quality time in some of our favourite places and that was a real bonus. The weather was decent enough for February too, so we managed a couple of nice walks and to gawp into our favourite patches of trees. It was incredibly quiet – just how we like it – and we haven’t had a winter break up there for some time and it was different to see it with bare trees, we saw all sorts of things normally obscured by foliage that we’ve not spotted before. I’ve had a run of health issues recently and the fresh air, peace and exercise did me a world of good and despite the work I still need to do finishing the project, was very well worth doing.

I’ll just leave you with the odd assortment of distinctly average photos I took over the weekend. If anyone sees my photography mojo, will they please pop a stamp on it and drop it in a letterbox back to me – I’d really rather like it back. I’m not even sure where I had it last.

Please click on any of the photographs for a larger view.

One of our favourite walks along Windermere starts along the lake side. There was a sailing race taking place at the time – I couldn’t fathom what was going on – it looked incredibly confusing, but looked like a perfect day for it with the colourful spinnakers billowing.

I hope that they know where they’re going!

Once the race had finished it went very quiet on the lake. All you could hear was birds and the occasional creaking tree in the breeze. I always kick through the leaf and timber detritus at the water edge and this is where I get most of my driftwood pieces as photography props and I picked up a beauty. I always carry a tie handle plastic bag with me for collecting such ‘treasures’.

It’s a relatively recent practice in managed woodlands to allow fallen trees to stay where they fall (unless there is a safety hazard) and for the natural ecology of the woodland to take over. I love to see how many things take up residence on logs like this. It becomes a fascinating little world all of its own.

I love the abstract design and textures of fungi, mosses and lichens, they’re worth getting a close look at them, they’re often complex and fascinating structures.

It was a bit muddy underfoot, but with the peace, sunlight through the trees, lack of people and abundant fresh air, it was just about perfect.

This photograph was somewhat about ‘the one that got away’ – it had been preceded a few minutes earlier by a passing over of the incredibly fast, loud and flying vertically on its wing-tips, Typhoon Euro-fighter – I’ve seen them in this spot over Thirlmere many times, but by the time you hear them, they’re almost out of sight. It was so loud Mr Boo actually swerved the car and we both ducked, although I have no idea why instinct should make you think that would help in the circumstances. Thankfully, this transport helicopter a few minutes later was going at a slightly more sedate pace. What a fabulous way to visit the Lakes. I stuck out my thumb but they weren’t for stopping. Note the heat from the exhausts blurring the trees behind.

The last dying colours as the sun sets behind Thirlmere

I love the colours of beech woodland; at any time of year.

We woke on Tuesday to a perfect clear deep blue sky and deep frost. As some of the work I had to do included exterior shots, I got out early to do them while the sky was so perfect and the undisturbed foliage where the sun hadn’t yet reached was dusted with delicate ice crystals – even the hairs on the stalks are frosty.

29 Sep 2010

I can’t imagine life without trees

For me, for the most part, as long as I can periodically escape to some of my favourite spots outdoors and get some fresh air and stretch my legs, I can cope with whatever life throws at me. In tricky times, or with tedious things I have to endure, like dental work or waiting in unsavoury places for overdue buses, I imagine walking through some of my favourite tracts of woodland. It’s something I look forward to intensely when I know I have a trip planned. The mental images and memories of being in places such as the ones shown here, pop into my mind many times a day and I long to be there.

Please click on any of the photographs for a better view, they look rather dark here on the page.

Even on the treadmill at the gym, I position myself on one of the machines near a window where I can see a short run of screening pine trees they’ve planted to separate the tennis courts from the playing fields and picture myself walking through them into more dense deciduous woodland beyond. I just cannot conceive of life without trees and being amongst them. I’m totally comfortable in their company and more at peace than anywhere else.

Early in the walk, a well made path runs level along the lake shore, rising steeply away from it shortly.

If I were given the option to wish myself away to anywhere, it would almost certainly be to one of my favourite woodland walks. Ideally, on a crisp, still, autumnal day with clear blue skies, fabulous views and glorious autumnal colours – even better if the woodland is deciduous or mixed and has a good smattering of beech trees. This particular day it was grey and damp, so the colours are not at their best, but I’d rather be there in rain than most other places on a nice day.

There is a habit in more recent times in managed woodland, to leave some of the trees that have either fallen naturally, or been cleared for management, to rot naturally in the woodland as they would without intervention. This then becomes a habitat to a wide range of plants and insects, adding to the health and biodiversity of the woodland.

I just love the intense array of natural sculpture nature provides us with along the way, partly from human intervention as above, to the natural abstract of the materials of the forest, as below.

The weather doesn’t often play the game, but the venue is much more reliable. I don’t even mind less than perfect weather, sometimes it even has its advantages, well known spots tend to be much quieter, which is always a bonus.

I don’t mind walking in dampness – loving the English Lake District makes this somewhat a necessity – gentle rain certainly won’t stop us from setting off – but driving rain and wind do tend to just spoil things. To quote Billy Connolly, as I have many times; “there’s no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong clothing.” If you attire yourself accordingly, it doesn’t have to stop you enjoying the outdoors.

One of the few advantages of being that bit more mature, is that you can plan your holidays outside of school holidays when it’s generally much more quiet and often the only people you pass are other mature types taking un-seasonable breaks and local dog-walkers.

Being a lover of and regular visitor to the Lake District, weather does tend to be a factor close to your heart, but we’ve had atrocious weather in summer and lovely weather in spring and autumn, even winter, so the time of year actually seems to matter little – you get what you get.

We’ve just returned from a 4 day break there, it was supposed to have been the start of our 2 week annual holiday, but a whole batch of assorted circumstances meant we had to downgrade it to a short break instead this time. And after a recent health scare and resulting hospital treatment, I was a little below par and my walking a tad less robust, but it actually made my time amongst the trees even more precious, valued and needed. It did me a world of good – woodland rarely fails to restore me.

There are a couple of sweet chestnut trees along this particular path and at this time of year they’re just falling off and opening on the ground. They’re fabulous to look at, nestled amongst fallen leaves, but decidedly hostile for handling. Last year I made the mistake of putting some in a bag to use as photo props, but having strapped it to my camera bag was like a pin cushion when I got back to the car – those interlocking randomly angled spines are incredibly effective defensive weapons.

The photographs on this page were all taken on one walk on Monday along the western shore of Windermere – the largest lake in the English Lake District. The eastern shore is the main holiday area and the best know to most people, but we love the other side – it’s densely wooded and much quieter. This particular estate is owned and managed by the National Trust.

This particular favourite walk, of just under 3 miles, starts flat along the side of the lake and rises and undulates through mixed and established woodland slightly off the lake, dropping back to the lake after about a mile and a third or so – it’s rather more steep in places than the photographs would have you believe.

We have a habit of getting to the point where the path meets a small beach with lots of large rocks, where we perch awhile, watch the boats, feeds some ducks, take some refreshments and then return, whence we came, for lunch back at the car park.

I just love being amongst this sort of mixed and elderly woodland and it’s especially gorgeous in autumn where the mix of beech and oak amongst a whole selection of different spruce and pines makes it an interesting and varied scene.