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Blea tarn

Panoramic view of Blea Tarn on a still morning with the Langdale Pikes reflecting in the water.

Blea Tarn, another popular location amongst landscape photographers! A small mountain tarn in a hanging valley between Little Langdale and Great Langdale, Blea Tarn offers a large variety of photographic opportunities, not only from the tarn itself but also from up on top of the surrounding fells. The Langdale Pikes (pictured above with the morning light hitting them) stand proud over the tarn with ample composition opportunities to be had. As a location, Blea Tarn works well for both sunrise and sunset photography, offering light in both golden hours. In the Summer months, the sun rises and sets more to the North giving the opportunity to capture beautiful colours in the skies above whereas in the Winter months, the sun rises and sets more towards the South, giving the opportunity to capture some stunning red light on the Langdale Pikes.

The Langdale Pikes reflecting in a calm and misty Blea Tarn in the Lake District.


By the tarn there are quite a few different compositions to be had with a bit of a jungle of foreground rocks to work with. I personally find that the rocks seem to offer more, compositionally when the water levels are high as it just makes it easier to find something simplicit and not over complicated. 

If you're going for the classic shots at lakeside level, then you're going to want reflections. I typically find that ripples or long exposures here generally don't work, at least not for me but thankfully with the nature of the tarn being quite low level in capacity, those wind gusts can be a little more forgiving than other larger bodies of water.

You can shoot from the left side of the tarn, using a group of Pines that sit on a little outcrop with the Langdale Pikes in the background, but do pay attention to how close you position yourself to the left as you may lose some of the Pikes behind the trees. There's also a wooden fence further to the left that some people have photographed which can look interesting but again, won't have all of the beautiful shapes of the Langdale Pikes in them.

Then out to the middle of the tarn, this is where the rocks appear, big ones, small ones and a few here and in between. You do still get the little outcrop of trees in shot but unfortunately or not so, depending on your intention, they will appear a little more 2 dimensional in appearance.

The Pikes Revealed At Blea Tarn.

A band of low cloud and mist briefly allowed the Langdale Pikes to reveal themselves.

Vibrant Summer sunrise with still reflections at Blea Tarn in the Lake District.

Pink & Purple Hues At Blea Tarn.

Sunrise colour in the clouds on a Summer morning.

Blea Tarn reflections on a Spring morning in the Lake District.

Light On The Pikes At Blea Tarn.

Morning light hitting the Langdale Pikes from the wooden fence to the left of the tarn.

Side Pike/Lingmoor Fell/Birk Knott

As I mentioned earlier on, there is good opportunity for compositions up around the fells that surround Blea Tarn and as an added bonus, are quite an easy hike giving a great reward for a small amount of effort!


Side Pike is a small fell at 362m, easily accessible from a small lay-by next to a cattle grid with space for around 4-5 cars. Around half way up, there is an old stone wall that climbs up the side of the fell, offering some great foreground interest looking back towards Blea Tarn. Through tout the months of November - January, the positioning of the sun at sunrise can give you some really dramatic light coming from the direction of Little Langdale shining on to the slopes of Pike'o Blisco! From the summit of Side Pike there are some rewarding views over towards Bowfell, The Langdale Pikes and Great Langdale Valley.

Lingmoor Fell is another rewarding small hike, a little higher than Side Pike at 469m but well worth the extra effort! I'd recommend parking in the lay-by for Side Pike but walking the road back down towards Blea Tarn to find a signpost on your left taking you directly up a path to Lingmoor. The fell's name originates from the old Norse word 'lyng' which means 'heather covered' so it comes as no surprise that this area is a gem in heather season which is usually towards the end of July - mid August, depending on the amount of rainfall during the previous couple of months. A wet July can be really good for the pink stuff!

Birk Knott is a short climb next to the National Trust Blea Tarn car park and can be found on foot by taking a left out of the car park, over the cattle grid and then not far past a beck on your left a faint path can be found which leads you up to a viewpoint overlooking Blea Tarn with Bowfell and the Langdale Pikes in the background!

Stunning rainbow at Lingmoor Fell with pink Heather. Lake District, UK.

Pot of Gold, Lingmoor Fell.

A double rainbow during a rain shower from near the top of Lingmoor Fell.

Snowcapped Langdale Pikes in the Lake District.

Langdale Pikes In The Snow.

A panoramic view of the Langdale Pikes in a dusting of snow taken from near the Side Pike cattle grid.

Old stone wall at sunrise looking towards Blea Tarn in the Lake District.

Old Stone Wall, Side Pike.

An old stone wall half way up Side Pike looking over towards Blea Tarn at sunrise.

Blea Tarn seen from Birk Knott in the Lake District National Park.

Birk Knott Viewpoint.

A view over Blea Tarn taken from up Birk Knott.

Getting Here

Access to Blea Tarn can be approached from two directions; either through Little Langdale or through Chapel Stile. I recommend Little Langdale if you're going to the tarn and parking in the National Trust Pay & Display car park or Chapel Stile if you're aiming to park at the cattle grid for Side Pike/Lingmoor Fell. For the most part, the roads can be a little tricky (single lane) so taking that little extra care will be needed. The nearest post code for both the National Trust car park and cattle grid lay-by is LA22 9PG. I will post more detail below.


It's not advised to go either route during harsh Winter conditions however there is a way around this, involving a short up hill walk from behind Side Pike. If you take the Chapel Stile route, there is a National Trust campsite with a small lay-by (shown Below). Take the squiggly path up behind Side Pike and this will bring you to the Cattle Grid.

How to get to Blea Tarn in Winter conditions.
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