The morning’s forecast was heavy rain; having finished off a bottle of Prosecco we wanted a lie-in anyway. After a hearty fried breakfast, by now we’d had bacon and eggs almost everyday for two weeks, we lazed around the house until the sky began to clear.
At 11am the sun was starting to poke through, and patches of blue sky had appeared. We started our day’s adventure by heading towards Coniston, then up the A593. With patchy light appearing on the hills I wanted to head into the Langdales to try and make the most of it. Google Maps wasn’t the best tool to use; it took us off the main road – a right turn down a narrow one-way path without any passing points, and with many turns. We had to keep going until we found a turning point.
After a bit more to-and-fro, we were on the right country road, heading into the Great Langdale valley, and alongside the Langdale Pikes. On a zig-zagging road that said “no stopping”, we parked up and spent an hour or so photographing the views to the north. As the winds brought the grey skies through the light kept changing; dazzling light patches mottled the hillside like leopard skin. On the hillside we danced about with our tripods, searching for a foreground to complement the stunning landscape.
The road continues down towards Blea Tarn – tarn meaning “small mountain lake”. The lake sits amidst a small hanging valley between Little and Great Langdale, where we welcomed the sight of a National Trust car park. From the car park a simple trail leads to the lake, a photographer’s favourite, and onwards, through a rhododendron woodland back up towards Great Langdale.
By now it was long past lunch time, and the lack of food was making us grumpy. We’d been exploring the hillsides for a few hours, carrying heavy camera equipment around, and the sun was dipping lower while the clouds grew heavier. Fortunately the valley road brought us through to the hamlet of Little Langdale, and the wonderful Three Shires Inn. Samantha was happy to stay here with some afternoon tea while I returned to the valley.
From the inn I followed a small road down the valley, towards a stream, then forked upwards to a small hill that looked like it might offer some views over the area. As I arrived, bright sunshine was decorating the trees and their late summer plumage, before disappearing again. I waited and waited, but the overcast skies did nothing.
Of course, as I’d finished packing up, filters put away, tripod closed, leaving to get back to Sam who I feared might be a bit grumpy by now, the skies opened and a shaft of light broke through into the valley. One of those choral sing to the heaven moments. Sprinting back up the hill, and setting up all over again, what I saw and captured left a lasting grin. The light rays very kindly streaked across the hills and struck a small white house in the valley.
An Inn that’s almost like those you find in tales of fantasy; a classic pub, a restaurant and a place to sleep; nestled in the most beautiful valley England has to offer, and found by chance.
A map in the entrance shows where all the nearby trails begin. Arriving early, and before they were serving food, Sam enjoyed her afternoon tea and cake and read her book while waiting for me.
As soon as they were ready, a young pregnant lady took us to our table; in a corner with pigeon-holed views out to the valley, a waning gibbous moon in the early evening sky. We were served by a charming waiter who took our orders for pheasant and duck.
We came away with two lovely pint glasses; our only souvenirs from our entire holiday, and made our way home in the dark.