I've been feeling the need to add something different to my website recently, so I decided to create a blog discussing landscape locations. With a bit of luck this will become a regular feature on here as I build my portfolio of images from around the Lake District, and hopefully help anyone visiting the area.
I've chosen Blea Tarn because this one of my favourite locations where I can visit throughout the year and have a variety of accessible viewpoints all from the car park by the tarn, which predominantly include the Langdale Pikes, but one where the Coniston fells can also be seen.
The tarn itself is situated between Little and Great Langdale and offers a stunning view of the Langdale Pikes as seen in the image on the right. This one spot has various options of composition and is very popular with photographers because of that, and ease of access.
For example in Winter the Pikes can be completely covered in snow, with a beautiful contrast of black rock and white snow that makes for a pleasing view. When there is a significant temperature drop the tarn can be frozen presenting some exquisite leading lines with the cracks in the ice, and low water levels leave many exposed rocks around the shoreline for added foreground interest. That along with a fence that runs in to the water, you can't go wrong.
Autumn has the changing colour of the leaves, and those cooler mornings also bring with it mist which can blanket the tarn. And if you're fortunate enough to arrive on a day when there is no wind, you get fantastic mirrored reflections in the tarn of the Langdale Pikes. Doing a long exposure can also help get some reflection and smooth out any ripples, but nothing beats it when it's completely still.
Grid reference for the tarn NY 29324 04290
Birk Knott is situated south east of Blea Tarn and is a short but steepish walk from the car park. The footpath is just before the cattle grid as you arrive at the tarn approaching from Little Langdale. As you ascend it's worth stopping and having a look around as there are compositions available which include the tarn on the way up. The tarn can also be seen from the spot where the image on the right was taken from, but for this composition I chose to exclude it as it was in significant shadow due to the sun setting to my left. If you were to raise your head above the rocks it would clearly be visible.
I've been here for both sunrise and sunset, and personally I like it better at sunset as there is a very small window where the foreground rocks get illuminated by the sun before it disappears behind the opposite fell. If you were planning on visiting here it would be worth checking the sun location as the further round it gets, particularly in summer, the more it would be visible in the shot to left, thus creating greater highlights to control. Having said that, if you don't mind shooting in to the sun and you like your sun stars it would work well.
I have also had pleasing results at sunrise, particularly when there has been significant snow fall on the ground, but I do like it when you can get the sun catching your foreground interest.
It's worth noting that the descent from here can be a tad tricky as it is steep in places and a little rocky. My camera bag is quite heavy and if I were to lose my balance it wouldn't end well, (always thinking of my camera first than my own health) so I always carry a set of trekking poles for peace of mind to assist stability. You could make this in to a nice circular route by going up on to Lingmoor fell and back around to the car park.
Grid reference NY 29863 04203
At 469m at it's highest point Lingmoor Fell runs along the east side of the tarn and divides Little and Great Langdale. The fell's name originates from the Old Norse word 'Lyng' meaning 'heather covered'. It can be accessed several different ways from the car park, including going up via Birk Knott. There is a beautiful stone wall which runs across it which can be used as a leading line for a composition, and also little elevated areas of rocks to the right of the path. Some of those are surround by heather which comes in to bloom around August and September, although this does vary, and has no guarantees. In 2018 I saw very little colour up here due to the dry weather we had earlier in the year.
The image to the right was taken near Side Pike (Lingmoors subsidiary top) seen here at the end of the stone wall and in the centre of the shot. The fell is a great vantage point for viewing some of the higher peaks like Bow Fell, Crinckle Crags and Shelter Crags, and also Pike of Stickle, and the Coniston fells. I'd accessed here by driving past the tarn car park, and using one of the few parking spaces near the next cattle grid just before you drop down the hill in to Great Langdale. From here you walk back down the road and pick up the footpath which takes you up towards the east of Side Pike where you reach the stone wall. From here you follow the footpath along the wall higher up the fell.
It's a great location for both sunrise and sunset. This image was taken in early May at sunrise when the morning light comes in through Great Langdale and hits the right of Side Pike as you can see in the image. During Winter months when it rises more to the south east, the wall running through the middle of this image and up to Side Pike gets side lit, which looks fantastic. During summer months at sunset the setting sun would be directly in front of you if you were stood at this vantage point. Other images and compositions from here can be seen in my gallery.
Grid reference NY 29695 05181
Side Pike can be seen from all the previous vantage points I have mentioned so far, it is often featured in many photographic images containing the Langdale Pikes from around Blea tarn, but not one where many are taken from. (Not from what I've seen on social media anyway)
I personally haven't been up here that many times to take a photo, probably because I often overlook it for other spots down by the tarn or up on Lingmoor, and for how the light falls on it during sunrise and sunset. But you do get a great view looking towards Great Langdale, the Coniston fells, and over to the likes of Bow Fell and Crinkle Crags.
Access is better from the foot path which is situated near the cattle grid before you drop down in to Great Langdale. Parking is available here, but limited as there isn't much space. You wouldn't have much trouble at sunrise, but during winter months when sunset is earlier in the day you'd expect to see walkers. To reach the point where the image on the left was taken will take you about 10 minutes from the cattle grid, is easy to navigate, and you can soak up the views on the way up.
I'd chosen this composition because of the stone wall, the lichens which cover it, and because of where the light was coming from. I had to pay attention to the sun when composing as the angle was adding lens flare. However I'd solved this by just using my hand to shield the lens. I'd been here a couple of times in nearly as many days to try and get this shot, but I was unlucky with the weather not playing ball, and I knew if I had the right conditions the sun would catch the wall directly. Thankfully my persistence had finally paid off and I was rewarded with some beautiful light breaking through the clouds, which also hit the pikes opposite.
There are plenty of other compositions available, including the use of the lone tree which can be seen in the image on the left, and the views from up here are beautiful. One of the first times I'd visited here I'd decided to go back to my car a different way, which at the time I hadn't realised would present it's own problems. Instead of the easier route west from the top, I decided to to go down the slightly steeper and what I thought would be a quicker way down to the east. Sadly for me this was not the case as I came across what I believe to known as 'fat mans agony'. A rather tight squeeze between the rocks, and one which I had to feed my camera bag through first, then hope I could make it though after. All good fun, but a route I will not be rushing back to try any time soon.
Grid reference NY 29103 05335
Thank you for taking the time to read my blog, whilst I have other images from around this area, these were just a few of my favourites I chose to share. Below is a little bit of additional information which you may find useful.
The car park post code for the Tarn is LA22 9PG and the grid reference is NY295043. I generally come in from Little Langdale as the road isn’t as steep as it is from Great Langdale. The car park is National Trust, so unless you are a member then a fee is required for parking, but there are some places around the tarn where you could park for free. The grid reference for parking near the base of Side Pike is NY 28934 05118. Even if you are not in to photography there are plenty of beautiful walks around this area and I can highly recommend them having done some.
I use the ‘The Photographers Ephemeris’ or TPE app for short when looking for where the sun rises and sets at locations. The 3D version is very good as it instantly shows you where what areas will be be in shadow at certain times of day, but you do have to ay ofr this. It can be very useful, and save you a journey if you are wanting a specific area illuminated by the sun or wondering where the shadows are.
ND filters can also be useful in this location, particularly at the tarn as it can help smooth out any unwanted ripples, or even if you just wanted to add a bit of drama to the clouds.
All the grid references I have supplied for the locations are there for guide purposes and may not be precisely where I was stood at the time the image was taken.