“There’s always a sunrise and always a sunset and it’s up to you to choose to be there for it,” said my mother.
“Put yourself in the way of beauty.”
– Wild, Cheryl Strayed
The Autumn and Winter months up at Arthur’s Pike can be very windy, so windy and cold I cannot use my cameras at all, my fingers become so numb I have to pop my hands up inside my fleece sweater to bring back the circulation. The Bracken has completely died back after its beautiful russet colours in the Autumn and the open ground on Barton Fell reminds me of those wide American plains in cowboy movies.
The light especially during a weather change is truly beautiful. I have sat up here and watched huge black and furious weather move in from the west and I’ve walked back along the ridge and over the open ground before it even reached me, thats a really lovely thing to watch. The snow and ice up on Helvelln’s summit hang around until the end of May at least and I don’t dare go up onto Barton Fell without hat and gloves until early June. I really want to get up there during a very snowy period like we had back in the winter of 2010. I’m sure Ullswater and the surrounding fells would make a stunning image.
I dont tend to hang around much at the summit because of the cold sometimes, although star jumps help keep me warm if I want to wait out some time. I’m often visited by crows up here. I lost a lens cap up here once, it slid down the very steep side of the ridge and there it remains forever.
The Spring and Summer months are much warmer and the colour palette changes to warmer hues. The thing I notice as soon as Spring arrives is the smells, a warm aromatic smell, the sweet smell of the yellow flowers on the Gorse. There are a few Cuckoos in Barton Wood below the ridge and I hear them call out especially in June. The grass smells very sweet and the purple flowering heather in August is delicious. I have to be careful laying in the heather as there are so many bees buzzing around too. I can sometimes hear the laughter from the people camping at the many campsites to the east of the lake, their voices carrying along the water.
The view as I sit on the south ridge of Ullswater is due north, so a brilliant panoramic view of the Northern fells and Blencathra from here. I always think it is a great vantage point for the long view up the lake and the recession of the fells around it. There are a few other vantage points in the Lakes where you get that lovely fading recession of mountains, but you feel so close to it up on this ridge. Blencathra has a small saddle shape on the top, hence its old name Saddleback. The small mounded shape hill in the near distance is Little Mell Fell.
Mid September heralds cool winds and the arrival of Autumn here and the green bracken begins to explode into shades of russet. Sometimes when I walk off the Ridge at dusk, I swear it is the most peaceful and beautiful place in the world.
I looked back over my photo catalog and realised I’ve been going up to the same ridge, walking out over Barton Fell, up to Arthur’s Pike since the winter of 2014. These images are from an evening back in late June of this year. In the next post I’ll show you my very favourite historical images from this ridge. As a photographer and nature lover I enjoy the repetition of going to the same vantage point high above Ullswater.
I start out near Pooley Bridge and walk out across the open fell, passing The Cock Pit, an ancient stone circle. The light is really beautiful here, even in the dead of winter I always love this part of the walk, It takes me about an hour to get to the foot of the ridge itself just by Barton Wood. Then a steep short climb up and I take the sheep path right on the edge of the ridge. I use the safer inside path during the winter months, when the wind can knock you over. There are always sheep here, sometimes they chase me along the path, stamping their feet at me.
Barton Fell is pretty boggy all year around but there is always lots of Bog Cotton here and on the ridge itself in August, the heather is in full flower. Sometimes I lay here and watch the Ullswater Steamer sailing up and down the lake. My objective is always the cairn by Arthur’s Pike, I looked this up on the OS map and its name is actually Whinny Crag. Sometimes I walk on a little bit further and watch the water pouring down Swarthbeck Gill.
In all the time I’ve been here, I have only bumped into humans on two occasions and that suits me just fine. It’s so rare to find very quiet fells in the Lake District. If I have my head torch packed, I will sit up there until the sun sets with my flask of tea and a warm blanket. I have started to take my Hasselblad up here to try and catch some of that lovely light and will carry on doing that through this coming winter for a project I am going to do.
I used to think I was the strangest person in the world, But then I thought there are so many people in the world, there must be someone just like me who feels bizarre and flawed in the same ways I do. I would imagine her, and imagine that she must be out there thinking of me too.
Well, I hope that is you are out there and read this and know that, yes, Its true I’m here, and I’m just as strange as you – Frida Kahlo
I longed for real silence, the kind you can’t find
but stumble upon, in some cabin,
on a lake without a moon, where you hear the cigarette burn
and the candles flicker
and your mind dances alive to the symphonies in the black…
Shot on my Hasselblad 500c/m using Kodak Tri-X film
Soon it got dusk, a grapy dusk, a purple dusk over tangerine groves and long melon fields; the sun the colour of pressed grapes, slashed with burgundy red, the fields the colour of love and Spanish mysteries. – Jack Kerouac
Everything is more beautiful because we are doomed.
You will never be lovelier than you are now.
We will never be here again…
Homer – The Iliad
If you have been following my 365 Project, you will know that I have been out hiking all weekend. Yesterday was a much longer walk and I got up to the area at the foot of the Helvellyn Headwall near Red Tarn. I wanted to show you some of the images that I shot at the top. The snow was about three foot deep here and the windchill was incredible. It took me about four hours to get up and then back down into the valley in the fresh, soft snow.
I was doing star jumps at the top waiting for the sun to burst through the clouds and illuminate the snow. My favourite image was the one at the top of the post at Hole-In-The-Wall, with the moody sky brooding over Ullswater.
A man who lives with nature is used to violence and is companionable with death. There is more violence in an English hedgerow than in the meanest streets of a great city
– P D James
Oh my God, what if you wake up some day and you’re 65 or 75 and you never got your memoir or novel written;
or you didn’t go swimming in warm pools and oceans all those years because your thighs were jiggly and you had a nice big comfortable tummy;
or you were just so strung out on perfectionism and people-pleasing that you forgot to have a big juicy creative life,
of imagination and radical silliness and staring into space like when you were a kid?
Its going to break your heart. Don’t let this happen.
Wow, 2014 has been such a whirlwind of activity and inspiration for me. I still have a massive passion for Photography as a visual art, but I very rarely seek creative inspiration at ‘Photography’ sites instead I enjoy drawing influences from Instagram, Pinterest and concept magazines like Kinfolk. Instagram is very underrated, there are some amazingly talented creatives sharing ideas and images here. I am not a professional or commercial photographer, not would I choose to be, I love the intuitive opportunities offered to me living in The Lake District, who could fail to be inspired living in one of the most beautiful places in the world, as an amateur photographer or as I prefer ‘A Crazy Enthusiast’.
Next year the roller coaster of travel is ongoing, in February I am returning to Iceland, I chose to return in February as it is the ‘snowiest’ month of the year. April sees me heading north to Sanna Bay on the Ardnamurchan Peninsula in Scotland, which is the most westerly point of the UK. Swapping the turquoise sparkly Bay of Sanna behind me I am going home to spend a week in August, photographing the beautiful Northumberland coast. In September I am flying solo across the pond to Boston, USA for a 10-day trip. I have also booked accommodation on Cape Cod for a few days to photograph the Cape Cod National Seashore.
You are not delicate
You are skinny dipping at 2am.
You are the reverberating echoes of a curse word
Ricocheting off the steeply sloping sides of a mountain.
You are snow on bare skin
In the deepest depths of winter.
You are the heat of a wildfire,
The rage of a storm.
Delicate things are pretty – cute, even.
But you are not delicate.
You are wild and lewd and unpredictable.
You are breathtaking.
You are beautiful.
A vigorous five-mile walk will do more good for an unhappy but otherwise healthy adult than all the medicine and psychology in the world. ~ Paul Dudley White
Because he had no place he could stay in without getting tired of it and because there was nowhere to go but everywhere, keep rolling under the stars… – Jack Kerouac, On the Road
What is that feeling when you’re driving away from people and they recede on the plain till you see their specks dispersing? – it’s the too-huge world vaulting us, and it’s good-bye.
But we lean forward to the next crazy venture beneath the skies.- Jack Kerouac, On the Road
Home is behind, the world ahead,
And there are many paths to tread
Through shadows to the edge of night,
Until the stars are all alight.
Then world behind and home ahead,
We’ll wander back and home to bed.
Mist and twilight, cloud and shade,
Away shall fade! Away shall fade!
– J.R.R. Tolkien
The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved,
desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing,
but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars. – Jack Kerouac.
He knew one of the women well, and had shared his universe with her. They had seen the same mountains, and the same trees, although each of them had seem them differently. She knew his weaknesses, his moments of hatred, of despair. Yet she was there at his side. They shared the same universe. – Paulo Coelho.
Last week my friend and I walked up to Angletarn Pikes and Angle Tarn which is part of the Eastern Fells of the Lake District. There was plenty of low cloud, mist and heavy rain to keep us company, especially on the descent, but this coupled with soft diffused light, creates a beautiful photograph. This is Oxford Crag, shot on our ascent from Patterdale, I just love the compression that the mist creates, I also edited this keeping the look soft so that it looked classic, timeless and rather romantic.. Brilliant hike despite of getting soaked.
I started writing this blog in the summer of 2011, at that point I had been shooting digitally for two years. Most of my images from 2009 and 2010 have been crunched and blotted from memory, but that’s okay, taking lots of naff pictures is a bit of the journey and it’s still fun experimenting. You may notice that hundreds of my older posts have been getting crunched too, this leads nicely on from the image I showed you yesterday and my quote about continuously innovating. I like to do that very much, but I didn’t want some of my best and favourite images to just disappear. So over the next few weeks I will be looking into the vaults and showing you some older work, but showing you them with a fresh makeover.
So the summer of 2011, I was standing on the west coast of Cumbria at Allonby Bay and I took this shot which I entitled ‘Into the Blue’ on a really gorgeous summers day. You may remember that I was exclusively shooting in portrait orientation early on and I was drawn to blues and golds – that hasn’t changed. I do love the layers that shooting in portrait emphasises. The other two sunset images were from opportunities arising from puppy walking duties, I live in a high/hilly area of town and we get a good view over to Lakeland.
You have the power to tear me to pieces, to wound me so deep and true that I’ll never recover. You’re in my every breath and every thought, intertwined so deep inside me that love’s not a strong enough word – you have my devotion, your name branded on my soul, my wolf yours to command. A hundred years? It’ll never be enough, I want eternity… – Nalini Singh, Kiss of Snow.
This is where I live, Penrith in the Lake District. I haven’t shown this image previously as I am not keen on images where there is lots of evidence of man-made structures and industrialisation, but in the context of this post I think it represents Penrith well. I live in what was, a small market town now is fast becoming a quite large township, the gateway to The Lakes. I am grateful every morning when I see (a partial) view like this from my bedroom window, that my back yard is, the eastern mountains of Cumbria and I live in such an astoundingly beautiful place.
I go to sleep alone, and wake up alone. I take walks. I work until I’m tired.
I watch the wind play with the trash that’s been under the snow all winter.
Everything seems simple until you think about it.
Why is love intensified by absence?
The Time Traveler’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger.
I was asked by one of the editors at WordPress to participate in a round table article for The ‘Photography 101’ series on The Daily Post. You can read this article here. Part one is photographers discussing our workflow, part two is coming early December. I will share the link once it has been published. In the meantime I am praying for some good snowfall in the Lakes like the winter of 2010…
I wanted to tell the book thief many things, about beauty and brutality. But what could I tell her about those things that she didn’t already know? I wanted to explain that I am constantly overestimating and underestimating the human race – that rarely do I ever simply estimate it. I wanted to ask her how the same thing could be so ugly and so glorious, and its words and stories so damning and brilliant.
None of those things, however, came out of my mouth. All I was able to do was turn to Liesel Meminger and tell her the only truth I truly know. I said it to the book thief and I say it now to you. “I am haunted by humans.”
The Book Thief, Narrated by Death, written by Markus Zusak
Have you ever heard the wonderful silence just before the dawn? Or the quiet and calm just as a storm ends? Or perhaps you know the silence when you haven’t the answer to a question you’ve been asked, or the hush of a country road at night, or the expectant pause of a room full of people when someone is just about to speak, or, most beautiful of all, the moment after the door closes and you’re alone in the whole house…..Each one is different, you know, and all very beautiful if you listen carefully. – Norton Juster