After a fresh dumping of snow across the country, a friend and I decided to try and make the most of it with a short trip across to the Lake District. With only Monday off work, we decided to drive across Sunday night and walk into Warnscale Bothy (red dot) before getting up and spending the whole day in the fells. Our plan was to go up to Haystacks, then head down into Ennerdale before doing a loop around the valley and then back to where we had started, as shown below.
We arrived at Honister slate mine at about 8pm and then started to make our way up and over before dropping down to the bothy. It was a beautiful evening, with the stars so clear above us, and we decided to take our time and practice night navigation and taking bearings with a map and compass. After popping our heads into Dubs Hut, another bothy close by, we arrived at Warnscale to find another photographer already there. We then spent the next few hours chatting, and despite the freezing temperatures, taking a few shots of the bothy from outside before settling into our sleeping bags.
Having endured temperatures of -6 overnight, as well as some very hungry mice, we got up and decided to make the short walk up Great Round How for sunrise. With a loop planned we decided to fill a dry bag with our sleeping stuff, to avoid carrying it all day, and stashed it under a rock to return to later. Below was the view looking across Buttermere towards Whiteless Pike, Wandope, Robinson and Grassmoor.
And just 20 minutes later the view had completely changed. Lovely warm light had burst through and amazingly Grassmoor had vanished entirely, obscured by cloud.
With the fast moving cloud the light was changing quickly so we spent quite a bit of time shooting in different directions as the scene changed. The view across the whole of Buttermere was the obvious thing to try and capture, but I felt more drawn to using my 70-200mm to try and pick out some more detailed images.
Eventually we decided to set off from Haystacks and having had a bit of food we dropped down to Ennerdale from Scarth Gap. This was my first time in this valley and I was really impressed with the beauty of it, surrounded on all sides by big mountains. Covered in snow and ice it had a particularly magical feel and we enjoyed a slow potter along the river until we started the climb up to the shoulder between Kirk Fell and Pillar. By now cloud had started to cling to the tops, so instead of going for the summits we decided to navigate around them and started to make our towards Great Gable.
The light continued to change quickly throughout the day and as we approached Beck Head Tarn the only other walker we met that day appeared above us. Quickly grabbing my camera I managed to get a shot of him, with Great Gable behind, before he started to descend and dropped below the ridge line. It was at this point the cloud really came in, creating a weird yellowy white out, and so after waiting round for a bit we decided to scrap our plan of sunset on top of Great Gable. With a fairly long walk back to the car ahead of us we decided to set off while there was still some light. But as we made our way round the top of the valley the clouds lifted for a few minutes, creating quite an eerie scene around Kirk Fell, just long enough for us to grab a few shots before darkness descended. Again we were able to navigate our way back in the dark, found our stashed bag and plodded back to the car to bring an epic 12 hours on the fells to a close. All that was left was to do was slowly make our way down an icy Honister Pass and onto home.
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