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Photos of The Lake District by James Lomax

A very cold day at Three Tarns in the Langdale Valley, looking towards the Scafells
A very cold day at Three Tarns in the Langdale Valley, looking towards the Scafells

A British television presenter once described the Lake District as a “pocket paradise.” I’ve been walking there for twenty five years, for about ten years did so extensively, and I still return. The Lakes have a particular charm which is a combination of outstanding beauty in compact proportion. I’ve been to the Pyrenees five times, the Alps twice, Scotland five times, and Wales and the Peak District innumerable times. Amongst this catalogue of experiences I regard the Lakes as unique. The Pyrenees, Alps and even Scotland – in places – offer more serious expeditions with greater height and effort involved. The Lakes offer a more manageable walking experience with what is arguably a greater concentration of delights. The downside to this is after you walk there a few years there’s no more exploration, no more thrill, because it’s familiar. Yet the attraction of the Lakes derives from the same point. Compared to other world famous mountain locales it’s relatively easy walking but with disproportionate rewards. It’s an exquisite place.

A beautiful spring day which looked like autumn, in Upper Eskdale, looking towards Bowfell
A beautiful spring day which looked like autumn, in Upper Eskdale, looking towards Bowfell
This area, called Brown Crag, is below Helvellyn looking towards Keswick
This area, called Brown Crag, is below Helvellyn looking towards Keswick
An easy walk from Keswick – Catbells - with beautiful views over Derwentwater
An easy walk from Keswick – Catbells – with beautiful views over Derwentwater
The Fairfield Horseshoe – here - is a classic walk, accessed from Rydal
The Fairfield Horseshoe – here – is a classic walk, accessed from Rydal
A beautiful autumn day on the Borrowdale hillsides
A beautiful autumn day on the Borrowdale hillsides

My favourite valleys are probably Ullswater and Eskdale. I say ‘probably’ because this changes and I’m also fond of the Buttermere valley for example, but over the years I’ve most enjoyed those two places. This is perhaps a distinctive feature of the Lakes, where the valleys are so lovely they are integral to any trip. I very much enjoy the Nant Gwynant valley in Wales, but it’s not the same as the Lakes. From the Ullswater area you can climb Helvellyn, Sheffield Pike, Saint Sunday Crag and Place Fell, which I recommend combining with the lakeside path for a returning circuit. Across the lake from the small town of Glenridding you find one of the most scenic camp sites of the Lake District. From Eskdale you have access to the Scafells (Scafell Pike is the highest mountain in England), Harter Fell (a modest walk), an impressive Roman fort, Green Crag (a rough moor-like area with views back to the Scafells), and via Burnmoor Tarn you can walk to Wasdale with even further possibilities: Great Gable, Illgill Head, and Pillar which is one of my favourites. When I first discovered Pillar I walked there several times over a period of months and years later I spent one of my best wild camp nights below the mountain at Black Sail, ready for Pillar the next day.

A stunning cloud inversion, taken from Lingmell looking towards Great Gable. The direction is towards Scotland.
A stunning cloud inversion, taken from Lingmell looking towards Great Gable. The direction is towards Scotland.
Upper Eskdale looking towards Scafell
Upper Eskdale looking towards Scafell
The Helvellyn plateau is perhaps the most impressive in all of the Lake District. This view is towards Catsycam
The Helvellyn plateau is perhaps the most impressive in all of the Lake District. This view is towards Catsycam
Irton Pike, which leads to Illgill Head, looking down towards Wasdale
Irton Pike, which leads to Illgill Head, looking down towards Wasdale

Wasdale is described as the brother to sister Eskdale, one with a kind of masculine drama while the other is a softer and more comforting place. The camp site at Wasdale Head is a wonderful location, and there are two camp sites and various accommodation options in Eskdale. In either valley you can, if you wish, spend large amounts of money for plush rooms with comfortable facilities. The Wasdale Head Inn is a fine and historic place for refreshments, with a garden area beside a river with views up to Pillar. Eskdale has four hostelries; I like The Boot Inn which has a lovely garden where I’ve spent many hours. These establishments are traditional places with wood paneling and open fires.

Boxing Day with irresistible snow on the Lake District fells: the Kentmere valley at sunset
Boxing Day with irresistible snow on the Lake District fells: the Kentmere valley at sunset
Langdale in autumn: Pike O’Stickle
Langdale in autumn: Pike O’Stickle
Looking towards Great Gable, below Great End
Looking towards Great Gable, below Great End
St Sunday Crag towards Ullswater
St Sunday Crag towards Ullswater

This introduction gives a taste of the Lake District and why it is unique. There are other valleys and mountains I could mention and my favourites won’t necessarily be yours. Borrowdale is a popular valley and offers a wonderful walk up to Great Gable, the Buttermere ridge walk is undoubtedly one of the best…and so on. People visit the Lakes for tourist reasons and literary associations: the towns are attractive historic places (albeit busy), and Wordsworth and Beatrix Potter famously lived in the area. For me though it’s the hills – the big, pocket paradise hills – which are quintessential Lakeland and why I return. My photographs give you a sample of what you find there.

Great Gable looking down towards Wasdale
Great Gable looking down towards Wasdale
Wild camp at Moasdale, looking towards the Scafells
Wild camp at Moasdale, looking towards the Scafells
Beautiful light, looking towards Yewbarrow with Ullswater in the distance
Beautiful light, looking towards Yewbarrow with Ullswater in the distance

About James Lomax

James was born in the south of England but universities and other factors have led him to live in the north. He writes philosophically about mountain walking at his web site www.jameslomax.com where he has an extensive and growing collection of photographs. His first degree was in English and a few years ago he obtained a Masters degree in photography. He’s taught English, basic IT, and photography to a wide age range of people. He is assembling hundreds of mountain photographs and accompanying text for publication.

Copyright James Lomax 2012 all rights reserved

21 comments

  1. Thanks for sharing these photos ,I just just showed my partner and she instantly got homesick, being a good welsh girl stuck in Australia for the last 10 months :)

  2. My nephew married a gal from England. She has family that likes to backpack there. I have a standing invitation to join them some time and hope to do so in the next couple years.

    • My personal view is the Lakes are the most beautiful walking part of England. Tastes do vary though; some people prefer other places or perhaps Wales but which is not “England”

  3. I’ve been invited to spend a few days hiking next spring after I backpack across Scotland again in May. I love James’ pictures, so I asked him to dazzle me with his lake district photos. I had no idea the area was so beautiful.

  4. Beautiful light. Great photos.

  5. Philip & James,

    Thanks for showing us how awesome the Lakes District is. Backpacking there has been on my bucking list, but now I’m moving it to the top.

    – Kimball
    TrailsNH.com

  6. I did tell you they are superb Philip. Fantastic photos from James. In a time when many claim expertise with photography he stands out as one of a small number I rate as having true expertise with photography who blog/tweet and share their work with us.

  7. Thank you for these. They make me want to go out there!

  8. Super photos and descriptions of the area. I agree with most of what is here except that in the first paragraph which states that:

    “The downside to this is after you walk there a few years there’s no more exploration, no more thrill, because it’s familiar.”

    I have been walking in the English Lakes for 40 years now and have lived in the area for a fair number of these. I am privileged still to have a cottage there which is my escape from the madness and pace of ordinary life. I still get a thrill and keep finding new things, new ways up the fells (hills), new views and new experiences. Yet there is also the satisfaction of revisting the old friends which are the hills and routes I know well.

    I fell in love with this area on my first visit all those years ago and wrote about this love at first sight on my blog last year. If you are interested it can be found at the following :

    http://fellbound.blogspot.co.uk/2011/11/love-at-first-sight.html

    But a lovely post from James and I hope that backpacking and walking colleagues in the USA will be inspired to visit this lovely place…

  9. some real beauties here James. The shot of brown crag is just superb. Was on great gable yesterday and coming off towards borrowdale I found a tiny path I had never used before, high above the famous waterfall. Still much to see there, that, and these photos are a good reminder. cheers

    • Thanks David. Yes that was a pretty good walk, up to Helvellyn from Thirlmere, when the tops were covered in snow. Got some good shots of the snowy plateau but it was the sunset light, coming back down at Brown Crag, which really showed the fells at their best.

      Do you mean the waterfall a few hundred feet above Seathwaite? I’ve stopped there quite a few times looking for photos.

  10. I love absolutley love the Lake District, I am living in the US at moment but will be back for Xmas

  11. Exquisite photos, great comments.

    THE FELL COUNTRY

    KATHLEEN LEONARD

    There is a benediction in this place
    This coign of land beneath a northern sky;
    Where, in the blend of crag and folded hill
    And nestling farms does its enchantment lie?
    What, in the cloud-reflecting tarn, the ghyll,
    Gives it peculiar grace?
    Here is a canvas all of light and shade,
    So that, upon a winter-seeming day
    Colour delights in subtle tones of grey,
    Or strikes, in autumn brilliance, like a blade.

    The bracken flames along the Derwent’s edge;
    Touched by a breath of wind, the splendid birch
    Sways to her image in the silver stream,
    Where dart the trout and the spotted perch,
    And shoals of little minnows turn and gleam
    Within the rippling sedge;
    Sweet are these rivers, green and clear and cool,
    Home of the dipper and kingfisher –
    Their very names fall gently on the ear;
    Derwent and Duddon, Greta and Rusland Pool.

    Haunting and lovely are these northern fells:
    Blencathra, Glaramara, Looking Stead –
    Rugged and English; names to dwell upon
    In winter evenings when the map is spread
    Beside the fire, and many a peak is won
    In tales the climber tells;
    We feel again the warmth of of summer noon,
    The air upon the summit, hazy, still;
    See, in the short-cropped grass, the tormentil,
    And know the magic of a Lakeland June.

    Here is acceptance; here, too, is surprise –
    As when a well-loved friend, known but in part,
    Grants us at times the valued privilege
    Of entrance into his most secret heart –
    So for the man who to the mountain ridge
    Lifts contemplative eyes:
    He sees the sweet familiar curve of fell,
    The earth revealing, through its moods, the soul,
    Knows what great spirit animates the whole,
    And knows, within himself, that all is well.

    Great are the riches he will surely find
    Who deeply loves and knows the countryside;
    Its beauty and integrity can lift
    The spirit above doubt and can provide
    The peace within which is the mountains secret gift
    To a world weary mind.
    That rare and lovely thing, serenity,
    Lies for the seeker on the fells,
    Where man in harmony with nature dwells,
    And glimpses, now and then, what life can be.

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