Wednesday, 18 January 2012

On a High in the Lake District - Crag Hill and Sail

It has been a frustrating few weeks weather wise which has had a knock on effect with my photography. Leaden grey skies, gale force winds and rain seem to have been the dominating weather events and producing decent images that will tempt editors to publish them has been difficult to say the least. Such frustrations were soon forgotten when a settled few days were promised by the weather forecasters.

The only slight problem was that I could not get out on Thursday and Friday when the weather had cleared due to having to complete image submissions and admin so would have to try and get a few decent pics while out walking with my wife Moira and our friends Graham and Sandra on Saturday. Through the week I tend to mainly work alone and focus fully on my photography, while at weekends I try to enjoy our walks and just take the odd picture. Separating work from my time with family and friends is not easy, especially when the weather has been poor all week and I am feeling the pressure to create more images to license. This business/leisure conflict will be something a lot of professional landscape and wildlife photographers and their families will appreciate I am sure. Fortunately Graham is a keen photographer as well so I don't feel too bad about holding everyone up, plus he can share the blame:-)

Clear skies overnight had led to a hard frost and a few low level mist patches so conditions up high looked as if they would be pretty good. The plan today therefore was to head up to the mountain of Sail (773m) and then continue on up to Crag Hill (839m), before descending to Coledale Hause and then returning along the Coldedale Valley past Force Crag mine back to the village.

From the village of Braithwaite it is a straightforward if quite steep ascent up past Stile End. With every frozen step the views opened up and by the time we reached the Base of Outerside we were stopping every few paces to admire the view or capture a few images. The views it has to be said were stunning in every direction and it was difficult to pick out and isolate scenes from the myriad of photographic possibilities. In the end it was the cold that drove us on and we made the steep pull up to the col between Sail and Causey Pike in fairly good time. Here I spent a while trying to capture Causey Pike balanced between Skiddaw and Blencathra on the left and the Helvellyn range on the right. Ahead through a mist veiled gap in the mountains I could also see the Pennines and the mountain of Cross Fell, but found it difficult to keep all three in balance due to the sloping nature of the foreground. I also tried to ensure I managed to get images where the viewer could pick out the tiny specks of walkers on Causey's summit to give a sense of scale, the only trouble was by the time I got my composition sorted they kept sitting down or wandering off. In the end I settled for the images below, partly because I was getting cold and partly because my companions had got cold and bored and had left me - again. They are always patient and accommodating but there are times when they get fed up of waiting, especially after hearing "just one more shot" for the umpteenth time. This time even Graham had gone on as well.

04D-1961 The View NE from the Slopes of Sail Towards the Summit of Causey Pike, Blencathra and the Helvellyn Range Lake District Cumbria UK.
Causey Pike with Blencathra (left), Pennines (distant centre) and the Helvellyn/Dodds range (distant right). Copyright David Forster

04D-1996 The View NE from the Slopes of Sail Towards the Summit of Causey Pike, Blencathra and the Helvellyn Range Lake District Cumbria UK.
People on the Summit of Causey Pike. Copyright David Forster

04D-2037 Three Runners and the View NE from the Slopes of Sail Towards the Summit of Causey Pike Blencathra and the Helvellyn Range Lake District Cumbria.
Fell runners heading towards Causey Pike. Copyright David Forster

I eventually caught up with everyone enjoying a bite to eat in the sun on top of Sail, but rather than sit and enjoy my food and the view, I bolted it down and again set to work trying to achieve a few images before the cold drove everyone away onto the next hill.

04D-2091 The Mountain of Crag Hill from the Summit of Sail Lake District Cumbria UK
Crag Hill from Sail. Copyright David Forster

This time Graham stayed with me and we spend 20 minutes or so capturing various images of the extensive views to the north-east. In fact he had been a bit crafty and had done a quick reccy of the summit while waiting for me and had spotted a couple of good compositions for us to try.

04D-2120 The Summit of Sail and the View NE to the Mountains of Skiddaw and Blencathra Lake District Cumbria UK
The view NE towards Skiddaw and Blencathra. Copyright David Forster

By the time we had finished the others were nearing the top of Crag Hill and we picked up the pace to catch them up enjoying a coffee on the summit. We all thought the view from Sail was wonderful, but the view from up here was simply stunning and again it was difficult if not impossible to know where to point the camera. Thankfully the wind was very light and after spending twenty minutes or so capturing some video and still images I also managed to convince the others to do a bit of impromptu modelling. Eventually though, it simply got too cold to stand about and we reluctantly left the summit and headed for Coledale Hause, stopping briefly at Eel Crag for a few more images.

04D-2147 The Mountain of Causey Pike and the View NE Towards the Helvellyn Range from the Summit of Crag Hill Lake District Cumbria UK
Causey Pike from Crag Hill. Copyright David Forster

04D-2228 The Summit Trig Point on Crag Hill and the View NE Over the Mountains of Skiddaw and Blencathra Lake District Cumbria UK
Ordnance Survey Trig Point on Crag Hill with Skiddaw and Blencathra ahead. Copyright David Forster

04D-2451 Hillwalker on Eel Crag Looking Down the Coledale Valley Towards the Mountains of Grisedale Pike Skiddaw and Blencathra Lake District Cumbria UK
Coledale Valley from Eel Crag. Copyright David Forster

Time was getting on so rather than follow the footpath towards Grassmoor we took a direct route and paid the price for this by ending up on some steep loose ground. We were also in the shadow of the mountains now so the camera equipment was put away and we carefully made our way down to Coledale Hause itself. After a short rest and a drink we then had a steady walk down the valley past Force Crag Mine and along the track to get back to the campsite in Braithwaite just before sunset. All in all it was really enjoyable day - all we need now is some more decent weather.

These of course are only a small sample of images from the day and you will be able to find more on My Images on Alamy in the coming days

Cameras used today were Canon 5D Mk2 for stills and the Canon XA10 for video.

All text/images copyright David Forster

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