A weekend in Wasdale – Landscape photography in the Lakes

Beautiful early morning scenery in Cumbria

Beautiful early morning scenery in Cumbria

It’s been quite a long time since I did a blog – unfortunately I’ve just not had much time to myself to dedicate to my personal photography projects and so my blog has suffered. However, I’m about to embark on a week of landscape photography (which I’ll blog about soon) and wanted to catch up with a quick writeup about a recent trip to Wasdale in the Lake District before I set off…

Wasdale is a place I’d been told about many times by a good friend who is quite familiar with the Lake District. I was constantly being told how dramatic the scenery was and how isolated the place was, so I was dying to get up there and experience it myself. So, one Friday in April I ventured on the long drive up there in my VW Campervan to spend a long weekend enjoying and photographing one of the best views that England had to offer.

As the miles on the satnav started counting down and as I started getting closer to Wasdale I could tell the scenery was going to be as good as I had been led to believe – and as I drove through winding single track roads the anticipation just kept building up until all of a sudden the trees lining the roads cleared and presented me with a perfect view over Wastwater, the deepest lake in the Lake District. With perfect blue skies, a vast expanse of water and snow topped mountains it was everything that I’d hoped for.

There was still some way to go before I reached the National Trust campsite at Wasdale Head – and as I drove I kept thinking of all the photo opportunities that lay before me that weekend.

I finally arrived at the campsite at mid afternoon, parked up the van (which had done a great job for a 23 year old!), connected the electric hookup and then went for a quick walk around the area to see what was around.

Remote it most definitely was! It ticked all my boxes for seclusion, dramatic scenery and peace and quiet – I simply could not have asked for any more – well, except for a few good photos and a couple of beers to reward myself for getting there in one piece! The nearest pub was a good 20 minute walk from the campsite which gave more opportunity to scope out potential photo locations.

However the excellent weather wasn’t to last, and a blanket of thick cloud settled in, making the possibility of getting good sunset shots almost impossible. But that was fine because I was in the pub!

I set off to the van relatively early so I could get an early night’s sleep and be up in time for sunrise…

… and before long the 5:30am alarm call sounded and it was time to get up and get down to the water’s edge.

As the sun started to rise I noticed that one of the peaks had a little cloud cap above it – and that was the cue to start taking photographs!

I quickly set up my Canon 5D Mark II and resorted to my trusty Lee 0.9 Hard ND Grad to balance the sky exposure with the reflection in the lake.

The break of dawn over Wasdale Head

The break of dawn over Wasdale Head

Speaking of the reflection – with the wind so still there were absolutely no ripples in the water which led to an absolutely perfect reflection of the scenery. I decided I wanted to take advantage of this, so oriented my camera in a traditional landscape format and waited for a few clouds to roll in for the next photo.

Sunrise at Wasdale in the Lake District

Sunrise at Wasdale in the Lake District

The reflection was spot on – exactly what I wanted! As I looked to my right across the other mountains I could see a thick band of black cloud coming in to ruin the day – but it was contrasting beautifully with the colour of the sky where the sun was rising.

Sunrise giving way to a deluge!

Sunrise giving way to a deluge!

As I could see that the black cloud coming in was going to ruin any more photographs I thought it would be a good time to try and get a timelapse of the changing weather, and more footage for my timelapse project.

I quickly returned to my previous composition and set up the camera to capture repeated photographs of the clouds rolling in…

At this point I went back to the campsite for a cup of coffee, and then eventually to the pub for lunch. The overcast weather making interesting landscape photography almost impossible.

And then the rain came – light drizzle in the afternoon turned to heavier rain by the evening. By this time I was holed up in the van processing my photographs from the morning and just hoping that the rain would give way in the morning for the possibility of another attempt at sunrise.

It wasn’t to be. The heavy rain had set in and by the morning the rain was coming down horizontally. What had been a slow running stream at the back of the campsite had turned into a raging torrent and the still waters of Wastwater had turned into something that surfers would have had a field day with. It was time to call it a day and come home.

For now.