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Towards Langdale from Bessyboot

Much of Cumbria is flooded by a green tide of bracken in summer. It isn’t my favourite plant and its a good place for ticks to hide. It usually stays low and I left it behind as I started the relentless slog straight up the steep flank of the hill.

Bessyboot is a mid-sized hill in a commanding position at the bottom end of Borrowdale. I’d found it on the map as being a promising spot. This isn’t a foolproof way to find photography destinations but I also used google maps and images, which is a useful aid for the modern-day photographer.

Towards Langdale from Bessyboot

There’s no path once you start the steep climb but navigation from the map is fairly simple. I was tempted many times to stop by the increasingly good views north to Skiddaw but I reasoned I could always drop my heavy bag at the top and come back down to explore. I also got distracted by the very climbable rocks all around and found myself taking more sporting lines of ascent now and again. The rock is very rough textured, very clean and a beautiful slightly golden grey. I arrived at a small top and there was the tarn I was expecting, the strangely-named Tarn at Leaves. Cumbria is full of such names, including Tarn at Howes, Glaramara, and Bessyboot itself. Tarn at Leaves nestles in a little hollow underneath the rise of Rosthwaite Cam but once at its shore the views are lost. I carried on up the final short climb to the cairn that marks the top of Bessyboot.

Great Gable from Bessyboot

It promised much, with a fantastic panorama and some lovely rocky features in the foreground. I calculated the angles and thought that sunset and sunrise could both be spectacular. Still many hours to go before that so I settled down with some food and a rest to cool off before having a little explore around the various little rocky tors, the summit being just one of many.

The light show usually starts about an hour before the “official” sunset hour, about 9:50 this night. Some  nice clouds added interest and excitement. Still very warm and, blessings!, no midges making my life misery.

When I look at the work of some other photographers I often wonder how they plan their shots. I’m torn between setting the tripod up well in advance and waiting for the light, or seeing what happens and responding. I’ve tried both and I’m still not sure which is best. I take two cameras with me – my big Pentax DSLR and my handy Olympus – and sometimes set the Pentax up on the tripod while I walk round and shoot handheld with the Olympus. This works fairly well. The Pentax, combined with neutral density filters, takes longer to get ready and get the exposure correct. The Olympus is much quicker to use.

Skiddaw from Bessyboot

The sun disappeared behind a mountain at about 9:30. Sometimes there’s still plenty to happen but there were also clouds there and there wasn’t going to be any more spectacle this evening.

I laid out my bag on a flat looking piece of ground. It looked like it was going to be a comfortable night.


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