Today looked like the best forecast for an interesting sunrise. Pre-dawn we got up and out quickly, camera bags packed the night before. Unlike at Airds Farmhouse in Scotland, our host was unprepared to make us a packed breakfast, we picked up some fruit and a croissant from the breakfast bar and headed out.
In the rain we drove the short trip to Tarn Hows, inadvertently chasing a frightened badger in our noisy red car. The Hows was still in darkness, and it was hard to see how we might get photos, so we carried on, to somewhere we might park closer to a good photo spot.
The next nearest lake was Esthwaite Water. The rain stopped as we pulled into the empty car park. We faced eastwards, and across the lake, amidst the misty trees, the sun would be rising soon. We had some time, and sought to compose a good landscape photo, using the jetty or the boats as foreground, yet in the end we both preferred a simple open water photo. Soon enough the sky began to turn red, and like a dragon in the East the sky dazzled us, a red fiery beast breaking through the grey skies.
These moments last minutes, the dragon flew away and the sun was up. We drove on to Sawrey and out to Windermere, but after our small picnic breakfast we were still close enough to the hotel to return for some proper fried grub.
Another nearby lake was Coniston Water. The early morning rain had cleared and the sun shone strongly. By the water’s edge Samantha tried photographing pebbles in the water, and then long exposures of the jetty – until a tourist boat came in and ruffled the calm waters.
Today I was more interested in going on a hike than taking pictures. I couldn’t leave the lakes without doing a proper fell trail. From Coniston we travelled into the park, past Rydal Water and Grasmere. Just off the A591 we followed a side road and parked on a grassy verge with some other cars. Quite by accident we walked up a tarmac’d private road and found a gate with a map, the start of a trail.
The gate was labelled “Greenburn”. The trodden route forked, we could go into the valley or up onto the fells in what would be a steep climb up Gibson Knott, to a peak of 420m. I convinced Sam that heading up here, without much food or water, but with camera gear, was definitely a good idea – think of the views.
When we set off we could only see Helm Crag, which to us looked like the top. With our goal in sight we climbed the fell – we could see people on the top, looking out at the view. The path was short but steep, and just beneath it I stopped to wait for Sam who took it slower. In the hot sun it was sweaty. “Nearly there”, I said as Sam sat herself down on the rock beside me, views of Grasmere and Rydal Water ahead of us, a flat English pasture stretching out in the distance. To our left ran the main road to Keswick, to our right a shallower valley, and a hill with a “sleeping lion” formation at its peak.
Around the corner we prepared to witness the views to the North and settle down on the top, only to find another great climb ahead of us – up to Gibson Knott. It took Sam a bit more convincing that we should climb this one too. In the valley beneath us two fighter jets flew by, practicing their below radar techniques.
So we carried onwards, past grazing sheep, up the rocky, grassy path towards our new goal, where we did eventually reach the top. We celebrated with a shared packet of mini cheddars and looked North, over Thirlmere. We settled here and watched the weather go by, the clouds rolled above us and the sun left dappled patterns on the valley walls.
The climb down is always simpler, and soon enough we were back at the car. Ravenous, I called around the good restaurants in our guide book looking to book a table for two. Anything that sounded remotely good, anything with a Michelin recommendation; it was all full (or closed for good). Resigned that a posh celebratory meal was unlikely, we searched for somewhere to eat in Grasmere. A good local Italian (“Potted Out”) did the job, and beneath a giant photo of a hedgehog we ate spaghetti bolognese and lasagne.