As much as I'm a believer in the idea of everybody having the right to experience the great outdoors; like a lot of landscape photographers, I really do appreciate my peace and quiet! Throughout most of the year in the Lake District, it's usually quite easy to find that sense of calm that I seek. That is up until the months of Summer with July and August seeing to the school holidays and peak holiday season for the countries favourite staycation location; The Lake District. You can expect car parks and lay-bys to be packed during the day and come night camper vans will take their place! Now like I said before, everyone has the right to enjoy this beautiful part of the country, so long as it is done in a responsible way but there's no real denying the fact that to a landscape photographer, tourism can be of a slight inconvenience.
With all that being said, there are many areas in the Lake District where you can find yourself in near enough, complete isolation! Granted, they can take a bit more effort to get to but remember, what is one mans pain, is another mans pleasure! So here are 5 amazing Lake District landscape photography locations away from the Summer crowds!
1. Fleetwith Pike & Haystacks Overlooking Buttermere & Crummock Water.
I'll start off with a relatively easy one. There is a bit of hiking involved but the 'bang for buck' in terms of the stunning views for the amount of effort involved definitely make this location a must! I'll give you a bit of a cheat with this one; if you're looking for the easiest way up here, then park at the Honister Slate Mine at the top of Honister Pass and either follow the gravel track up towards Fleetwith Pike or the path that leads up to Great Gable. This will save you nearly half the ascent you would take from down below at Buttermere. More info can be found on route advice in my location guide here.
There are a few different options to go for up here. If you're really trying to avoid the crowds then I would go with Haystacks. There's a small tarn at the top which overlooks High Stile and Buttermere and works really well for sunset! On the way up to Haystacks Tarn, there are quite a few stunning viewpoints of Buttermere and Crummock Water that are worth taking a look at (like the image above). In the months of July/August, the area gets a really nice bloom of vibrant pink Heather and the angle of the setting sun produces some fantastic light!
Warnscale Bothy is another location worth paying a visit to. You probably won't find yourself in complete isolation there but as it is a little tricky to actually find; this usually deters the big crowds.
Lastly, we come to Fleetwith Pike (the highest peak on the right side of the above image). Again, this location has a stunning view of Buttermere and Crummock Water and is quite simple to get to. Basically follow the steep off-road gravel track from the slate mine all the way up until you come to a huge pile of slate with a little hut/shack on the side (you'll know when you see it) and then turn right here. Follow the path for around 20 minutes and then you'll reach the summit. Be sure to explore further down on the other side of the summit, especially during Heather season!
2. Crummock Water From Red Pike.
Moving on to somewhat more of a difficult hike, the views from the top of Red Pike overlooking Crummock Water and out to the coast are absolutely fantastic! The hike starts off from the village of Buttermere, ascending up towards Bleaberry Tarn via Sour Milk Gill and then up to the Summit of Red Pike. The route is quite strenuous and in some parts quite dangerous (mainly the loose scree before reaching the summit) so I recommend doing some research into the route and allowing yourself more than enough time to get up there. With all that being said, don't let the extra leg work scare you off! I'm not telling you to prepare for climbing Mount Everest, just that it's worth taking some precautions for this one!
I'd recommend Red Pike for sunset during the months of May-September as this is when the angle of the sun will be at its best for side light. Check the various weather forecast apps such as Windy and try to aim for an evening where there's no low/medium cloud out towards the coast. Be sure to take a decent head torch for the journey back down if staying until sunset, you'll definitely need it!
3. Kelly Hall Tarn, Torver, Coniston.
If you're looking for an easy to get to location, they don't come much easier than Kelly Hall Tarn! Located just outside of a small village called Torver near Coniston, this small body of water has some stunning views on offer of the Old Man of Coniston. The tarn is a very short walk from the car park and is very rarely touched by the Lakeland tourist!
More info including shooting and location advice can be found here.
4. Holme Fell.
Located just off the A593 lies Holme fell, a small climb with stunning views of the Langdale Pikes. The area is well known amongst landscape photographers for its diverse landscape; a former quarry which year by year is being taken back by the landscape it once dominated. There are plenty of lone Birch trees scattered around the area which can make for some really interesting foreground subjects with the mighty Langdale Pikes in the background!
The area works quite well all year round with Heather blooming in the Summer months and the colours really coming to life in the Autumn months! I tend to find that evenings work quite well here with the setting sun creating some lovely backlighting. However, during the Autumn months, sunrise can produce some really dramatic first light on the Langdale Pikes (image above) which can be equally as stunning to see!
There's two main ways to get here. The first being from the car park at Hodge Close Quarry and the second being from Yew Tree Tarn just off the A593. I prefer the latter option as the drive to Hodge Close Quarry can be a little sketchy and the route up this way can very often be boggy! The route from Yew Tree Tarn is steeper, but I'd say it's a tad quicker and more enjoyable!
5. View Of Crummock Water From Low Fell.
Low Fell is a true Lakeland hidden gem, located in the Western Fells overlooking Crummock Water and Loweswater. The fell can be accessed through a few different routes. The route I would recommend is via parking in a small lay-by near Rose Cottage in the village of Loweswater and making your way up from the Eastern side of the fell. It's also worth driving up Whinlatter Pass rather than driving through Buttermere, especially in the Summer months when traffic can be a little wild!
It's mainly an evening/sunset location with the light coming from the North West producing lovely sidelight on the Western Fells and the valley beneath. The best months for this kind of light are between April - September, you'll want some dark moody clouds in the forecast with a clear horizon gap out to the coast!