Wharfedale overnight – the next morning

I just found this post in my Drafts folder in WordPress and realised it had been there since early summer and never posted. I think I held it back because the trip hadn’t fully worked out and I didn’t get many shots from the morning sunrise. Looking at it now though, there aren’t many shots here but they’re nice ones so here’s the post, to remind me of summer wild camping trips.
Wharfedale

After a good night’s sleep in warm, calm weather I eventually awoke to my alarm from a deep sleep at 4:15 am. The sky looked very promising and there was an almost-full moon on the other side of the valley. I got up and got ready and hid my camping stuff out of sight so they wouldn’t be seen in any shots I took.

I got increasingly excited as the clouds started to catch with orange light. However it was clear that the sun was going to come up right behind the highest part of the hill beside me – something I could have found out easily if I’d checked my compass. More to the point there were enough clouds in the way that the initial promise soon fizzled out. Just like my Eskdale trip of a few days before the sunrise was to disappoint and leave me with unfinished business. So – not many shots in this post but hopefully I’ll be back.

Borrowdale overnighter – evening

From Kings How looking south
From Kings How looking south

I did my first wild camp of the year a few days ago, in the Lake District. The intention was to camp on one of the hill tops above Honister Pass, where I hoped to get a great view of both Derwentwater and Buttermere as well as a grand panorama of big hills. The weather intervened and a gale on my chosen hill meant I could barely stand up and I certainly wouldn’t be staying the night there.

I walked back to the car and down the valley towards Rosthwaite in the Borrowdale valley. I had my eye on a small hill called King’s How. This little top barely registers on the Ordnance Survey map but I reckoned it would have good views and, being lower, less wind.

At work - the camera looking towards Derwentwater and Skiddaw
At work – the camera looking towards Derwentwater and Skiddaw

I started up from the road and soon lost the path in the bracken. It was clear that it wasn’t going to be a crowded place, the path being very vague. The wind was still shaking the trees even this low down and there was plenty of cloud, not good signs. After some steep heather bashing I found the top and two miracles. First, there was a panorama view. Second, by some freak of topography, there was a little hollow just by the top that was escaping the strong wind. By this time I could also see some sun. I decided to stay. I found an even more sheltered spot a few metres down in a little gully – very calm and discreet.

My sheltered bivvy site on King's How with Skiddaw in the background
My sheltered bivvy site on King’s How with Skiddaw in the background

The bad news was a very strong haze making everything look milky. Lots of pretty clouds but as it turned out the sunset wasn’t the best and I didn’t get many shots.

The morning dawned wet and cloudy and after poking my head out at 4am, I poked it straight back in again and went back to sleep. I haven’t sorted through the morning photographs yet but I’m not expecting much.

Barmouth – rediscovered

Mawddach Estuary
Mawddach Estuary

A couple of years ago I did an overnight wild camping trip to Barmouth, southern Snowdonia. This is a truly spectacular place that so far I’ve struggled to do justice to. On this occasion I messed up by arriving late and not being ready with a good location to camp and shoot. I was disappointed with the results and never bothered to sort and process them properly.

With the current weather driving me a little nuts (too much rain!) I’m looking through the catalogue and I’ve found these shots again. Here are a few that are better than I’d realised first time round. I think they give a reasonable idea of the natural beauty of this place.

Bessyboot sunrise

Skiddaw from Bessyboot

Sleeping inside a bivvy bag on a hilltop is an odd feeling. It’s usually too cold to leave your head outside the bag so you spend the night separated from the wonders of mountains and stars by a thin sheet of nylon. You hear everything, you feel the breeze across the fabric but it’s all outside. I usually pop my head out a couple of times just to see how it looks. It’s rarely black at night in summer and if you’re lucky sometimes you see a beautiful full moon over the mountain tops. Continue reading