The lone tree

The Lone Tree at Buttermere is possibly one of the most iconic of locations for landscape photography in the Lake District! On a perfectly still morning with the stunning Lakeland fells reflecting in the lake; it’s certainly easy to understand why!

The tree stands on its own, partly submerged in the lake on the Northern shoreline of Buttermere. High Stile, Haystacks and Fleetwith Pike serve up the perfect symmetrical backdrop; giving the perfect ingredients for a great photo!

There’s plenty of potential here for landscape photography all year round but for the best conditions, you really want to be at this location for sunrise. From the Autumn months through to the Winter months, the sun rises behind Fleetwith Pike. This gives good opportunity to witness stunning colours in the sky (given the right cloud cover). During the Summer months, it will be harder to get them vibrant sky colours but glassy reflections and a bit of mist can easily make up for this loss!

The Buttermere lone tree on a Winter morning with perfect reflections. Lake District National Park, UK.

Star Burst Sunrise.

The sun rising between Dale Head and Fleetwith Pike.

Lone Tree at sunrise. Buttermere, Lake District, UK.

Lone Tree Sunrise.

A Winter sunrise at the Lone Tree with a fresh dusting of snow on the fells.

Although this location is 'just a tree', you would be greatly mistaken in thinking that it is an easy location to shoot, quite the opposite. Although not a hard walk from the car, Buttermere as a location is a bit of a faff to get to; especially when the mountain passes are closed due to snow. There is a way around this, via Cockermouth/Low Lorton but this route will add at least an extra half an hour onto the already long journey. Thankfully, those Winter months give us that little extra lean-way, with the sunrise being at its most reasonable time!

In my experience, due to the location of Buttermere, it's quite exposed to the Western coast which means the winds will usually be stronger here, than in Central/Eastern Lakeland. Even on those calm mornings, random gusts of wind can come out of nowhere, ruining those stunning reflections. In the years I have been doing landscape photography, I can literally count on one hand, the amount of times I've witnessed perfectly still reflections here. So if that's what you're after, then you may have to return here a good few times until you nail that perfect shot!

The water levels and time of year will also play a part in the look and feel of your image. During the Winter months, you'll usually find the dead yellow reeds in the foreground give some lovely warm tones to your image. With higher water levels, the reeds can get flooded, giving you some interesting compositions to play around with. In the Summer months, up until Mid Autumn, the reeds will usually be a mixture of green and yellow, which will give a completely different feel to the image.

Experiment with different heights, from eye level down to ground level. One tip I do have, is to really think about the positioning of the tree in relation to the background. I've found that placing the tree somewhere between Dale Head and Fleetwith Pike tends to give more visually appealing results but as is always the case, a bit of experimentation and personal taste will hopefully, get you the results you want!

Lone Tree In The Mist.

A stunning misty Autumnal morning at the Lone Tree.

Buttermere lone tree with lake mist at sunrise. Lake District, UK.

Getting Here

As mentioned in the above section, the best place to park is in the village of Buttermere. I recommend arriving via Newlands Pass, which will bring you to a stretch of free parking, just before the village. If you're arriving first thing in the morning for a sunrise, there should be more than enough spaces available. Anything later and it can be hit or miss. There are a few pay and display car parks or a national trust car park (free to members), just a little further past Cragg House Farm.

The easiest way to the Lone Tree from the free parking is via the Syke Farm Tea Room. Follow the path past a few barn yards, until you reach a wooden gate. Go through the gate, making sure to close it after yourself. Then follow this path for a short while until you come to a small wooden kissing gate, on your right. Go through this gate, following the path downhill and shortly, you will take the path through a brief stretch of woodland. After a brief walk through the forest, you will come to another kissing gate. Go through this gate and you will then find yourself on the shoreline of Buttermere. You will find the tree, walking straight ahead, a little further up the shoreline on your left.

If coming from any of the pay and display car parks, you will want to take the path on the left of the Fish Inn, following the signs to Buttermere. After a 10 minute walk, you will find yourself going through a large wooden gate and you will be able to see the lake. At this point, stay on the path heading directly towards the lake and take the small wooden gate on your left. Once through the gate, the tree will be on your right, a few minutes further up the shoreline.

Buttermere free parking, Lake District.

Buttermere Free Parking.

A small free car park at the foot of Newlands Pass.