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Langdale camping trip in autumn

Side Pike Langdale Pikes from Blea Tarn at dawn
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Great Langdale NT campsite

As I’d not had a break for a while it was high time for a Langdale camping holiday. Great Langdale is one of the places in the Lake District that I am so very familiar with and say I won’t go back to for a while …. and then I find myself there again. I’d not been for a couple of years but with the brief summer we had at the end of September I couldn’t resist a quick visit.

Turning up at the Great Langdale National Trust campsite midweek during the day I had no problems finding a pitch for my tent. During term time in the summer the site only gets busy at weekends. In the autumn however it never fills up so turning up with no notice is not an issue.

The campsite has great facilities but I wish there weren’t so many rocks just under the grass as it makes pitching a tent difficult. Plus as campsites go it isn’t cheap! The location in Great Langdale makes up for these minor grumbles though.

Tent pitched, it was time for a quick evening walk so I headed up Harrison Stickle to watch sunset. As everyone else was on their way down I had the summit to myself. The downside of it being so warm was that sunset was very hazy so the views weren’t crystal clear. At least there was a view but none of the resultant photographs were worthy of publishing.

Walk to Blea Tarn from the National Trust campsite

The following morning I was up at 5am, well before dawn. My plan was to try to get some photos of the view of the Langdale Pikes from Blea Tarn. From the campsite its only a short walk to Blea Tarn and didn’t take long. The road into Little Langdale runs past it. I would have thought I’d have the place to myself but no. Photographers are a determined, sleep-deprived breed so there were a few of us there. Sadly it wasn’t quite the light I was after as it was partly overcast but I made of it what I could. Below is my favourite photo of this series.

There is an hour around both sunrise and sunset, sometimes called the golden hour. During the golden hour colours are much richer due to the softer light and lower contrast, both caused by the lower angle of the sun. The light on the fenceposts makes the above photo in my opinion. Its just a shame that the view of the Langdale Pikes was obscured by clouds. Ah well, can’t win every time.

As a footnote to this, the National Trust have since reinforced the posts on the fence in this photograph with bright yellow rods that take away something from the view. As a result all my subsequent photographs at Blea Tarn have been taken from the other side of the fence, avoiding this viewpoint.

Great Langdale Valley walk to Chapel Stile and Elterwater

One of the good things about dawn photo shoots is that once done the day is still young. Once I had returned to the campsite, had breakfast and sorted my kit out it was time to head out again. This time in the opposite direction, down the Langdale Valley.

Following the Cumbria Way path past the old ruin of Oak Howe towards Chapel Stile leads over this old stone packhorse bridge. As it was still a still autumnal day the reflections in the Great Langdale Beck were still near perfect.

Packhorse Bridge over Great Langdale Beck at Chapel Stile
Packhorse Bridge at Chapel Stile

Walking through Chapel Stile and on to the village of Elterwater I eventually arrived at Maple Corner, in the centre of the village. In autumn the leaves of the maple tree that gives this location its name turn bright yellow. At the time I was there they were part way through their transformation but still looked very attractive.

 autumnal maple tree corner and Britannia in Elterwater
Maple Tree Corner in Elterwater

Behind the tree The Britannia Inn can just be seen, one of the finer drinking establishments in the Lake District. Sadly it was still too early in the day to pay a visit when I was passing.

Heading south out of Elterwater on the Colwith road, after passing the Youth Hostel, I took the small lane through Sawrey’s Wood.

 country lane through autumnal Sawreys Wood
Country lane through Sawreys Wood

This windy lane travels over the shoulder of Yew Crags and eventually turns into a good track at Oak Howe. It leads inexorably back towards Oak Howe and the junction with the outward leg. From thereon I retraced my steps back to the campsite.

Sadly we don’t get Indian summers every autumn but I’m glad I had the chance for this Langdale camping trip. Here’s hoping for another one next year.

To view all my photographs from this area please head to my collection of Langdale photos.

Langdale camping trip in autumn was last modified: August 18th, 2018 by Gavin Dronfield

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