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UK Landscapes - Lake District

Great Langdale

Great Langdale

Great Langdale under a blanket of early morning mist.
(click on the image for an enlarged view)
Photo ref. MG_1065-210296


Technical Details: -

Canon EOS 5D MkII
Canon TS-E 24mm f/3.5L II - no movements
1/40 sec @ f/8.0

I arrived in the Stickle Ghyll National Trust car park at 3:15am.  The sun was due to rise at 6:49am and I reckoned it would take me an hour and a half to get to the summit of Harrison Stickle, from where I planned to take a photo of Pike o' Stickle at dawn.  I set the alarm on my phone, reclined the car seat and went to sleep.  I woke up an hour and a half later and looking out, I could just make out the trees lining the car park through thick mist.  It was wet and miserable outside.  I'd checked the weather forecast the day before and they predicted light showers at first, clearing as the day went on, but because they'd changed their minds several times during the day I thought there was a good chance they'd get it wrong.  I sat there for a few minutes trying to decide whether or not to bother leaving the comfort of my car, then remembered I'd just driven 200 miles through the night to be here.  Eventually I forced myself out of the car & put on my head torch. When I switched it on, all I could see was mist reflecting the light back at me.  Visibility was about 10ft.  I walked over to the pay and display machine to buy a ticket and was pleased to find they'd dropped their prices from £6.50 to £4 for 24 hours. That makes a refreshing change, someone actually reducing parking charges! Things were looking up.

I set off through the mist along the path that follows Stickle Ghyll up to Stickle Tarn. After 10 minutes I was overheating with the effort of the climb, so I stopped to take off my jacket. I switched off my head torch so I could see into the sky & hopefully see what the weather was doing. The moon was out & I could see stars & just a few clouds overhead. The air around me was completely clear and as I looked down the path, I could see the mist I'd been walking through just below me, with a couple of light patches where street lights were shining through. I'd walked from miserable grey gloominess to what seemed like a nice mild summer night within just a few minutes. The view below was incredible and the rest of the way up I had to keep stopping & turning off my head torch just to take in the view. There were a couple of occasions I wanted to stop & set the camera up on the tripod for a quick photo, but with exposure times measured in minutes it would've made me late to my planned destination, so I pressed on.

I reached the summit at 6:40am, plenty of time to get the camera on the tripod before the sun appeared on the horizon.  Then, just as I was taking the camera out of my backpack, the sun 6:45am!  I now realise how big a difference altitude can make to sunrise times.  I'd started thinking perhaps my iPhone app wasn't accurate, but in reality I need to allow a few minutes extra when setting up.  5 minutes later the sun had disappeared behind cloud.

Looking at the mountain from this angle, it didn't look as interesting as I thought it would (even if the sun had reached it), so I turned my attention to the mist rolling through the valley.  I took a few shots to fine tune the composition and waited. I didn't have to wait long before sunbeams started breaking through the clouds, lighting up different parts of the scene in front of me. I stood in the same spot taking photos for about an hour until the mist started to dissipate and the warm morning light changed to it's cooler daytime colours.  The shot above is my favourite (at the moment), chosen from many, all with different combinations of mist, cloud & sunlight.