Winter in the Lake District
Walking in the Lake District in fresh snow, camera in hand, soaking up the magical views of Langdale. Thursday January the 14th 2016 was anything but an ordinary office day for Andrew Clayborough.
I had the weekend booked off so I could pay a visit to the Lakes, as snow had been forecast and I was really looking forward to getting out in it. My plan was to head up from Leeds on the Friday morning and spend some time taking photographs of the Langdale area. About ten years ago, in a gallery in Ambleside, I had seen a photograph of Langdale blanketed in snow. It was a truly beautiful image – one I was eager to see for myself. And now, the opportunity had arrived. On Wednesday night, thanks to the wonders of social media, I discovered that snow had started to fall heavily in the Lakes, so I called my boss and got the OK to take Thursday off as well. What a stroke of luck that turned out to be. I set off at 5am the next morning only to arrive in Langdale to a total whiteout, only just making it to The Old Dungeon Ghyll car park before the roads became too difficult to manage.
I parked and put all my layers on so hot drinks and food were the only things of any weight in my pack. As I walked up through Langdale Campsite with my spikes on it felt great to be back outdoors.
I was really hoping to get a good vantage point and take some intimate images of the Pikes.
Walking all the way up to the cattle grid and the start of the path up to side pike, I was aided by a 40mph tail wind. The visibility was poor though and the snow seemed to fall horizontally. I was a little early to my first vantage point; it was still not quite daylight – and no good for the pictures I wanted – so I took shelter behind the wall with my pack stopping any draughts coming through the gaps, thinking I’d sit it out until the sun came up and the snow stopped.
I waited 40–45 minutes with no change in conditions and although my shelter was good I made the decision to head down to the car and wait for the weather to blow itself out. Walking back to the car park, the wind was in my face. Nonetheless, it was an easy walk as the snow cushioned my knees with each step, as did the wind, which seemed to be blowing up the fell.
Back at the car, I was frustrated to discover that just as quickly as the car steamed up the sky seemed to clear. I set off up again in much better light (though the wind had not abated), all the way looking to catch the first rays of sun hitting the tops of Langdale.
Luckily, I made it to Blea Tarn with relatively early light still available and got some shots that could only prove how memorable a day it was. I feel privileged to have witnessed Langdale in that light on that morning and as I was on my own, feel I have to share these images.
Andrew Clayborough has spent some considerable time, commitment and patience over a 10-year period taking great photographs of the Lake District. When possible, he takes landscape photographs during the first light or morning and his favourite times of year are Autumn and Winter.View Articles by Andrew Clayborough