Snapshots on Harrison Stickle

Despite ongoing efforts, successful Lake District hill/tent based photographic adventures have been few and far between recently.

The good trips are always something to be cherished. The light doesn’t ‘happen’ every time, which makes it all the more special when it does. But having gone six months without creating something I’m happy with, mainly due to weather, (or is it me, who knows….) frustration has well and truly set in.

But I can be patient and stubborn so I’m not giving up just yet..

My photographic style, particularly the mountain based stuff, is so dependent on having the best of the light, so if it doesn’t happen in that 10 – 20 minute window just after sunrise or around sunset, it doesn’t happen at all. It might be too much cloud. It might be too little. (It’s mainly been the former). Half an hour later the cloud might be ok, but then the intensity of the light has gone.

Last week’s wild camp on Harrison Stickle almost gave me something to work with, hence writing this rather than continuing radio silence.

I walked up late evening from the Grasmere side, up via Easedale Tarn and then over Sergeant Man. It was a damp head down trudge, and I nearly gave up and just pitched down by Easedale, but carried on before pitching just off the summit of Harrison Stickle.

Eventually the rain began to ease and the skies began to clear. There was a really clear band of sky off to the west, which in my mind the sun would suddenly sink into, blazing an amazing orange glow across the fell tops.

Of course, this didn’t happen and another lost evening faded into grey.

On the last few trips out with the tent, dawn has been so obviously cloud shrouded that it’s not even been worth me getting up with the alarm. This time as I poked my head lazily out of the tent at 4.15am I knew straight away I was again doomed to failure in achieving anything amazing. The sun was once again coming up behind a thick bank of cloud across to the east, and where I’d intended to be aiming my lens – the rugged skyline towards Bowfell, the Scafells and Great Gable – was hidden under a muted leaden cloak.

I was however tempted enough by the conditions to worm my way out of the sleeping bag and into the morning chill – a clear band of sky in between the lower obfuscating layer of cloud and another higher up offered an encouraging opening.

After about half an hour of standing around the sun finally managed to haul itself free from the mire, revealing a shimmering Stickle Tarn below lingering clouds and the stoic black outline of Pavey Ark.

Sunrise, Pavey Ark and Stickle Tarn

With hindsight I could obviously have made more of this scene, at the time I really didn’t think it looked that good, and hence I ended up with a couple of snapshots rather than some carefully composed landscape images.

Pavey Ark shrouded in cloud

Back in the other direction, the one I had originally wanted to shoot, only Pike of Stickle was free of cloud, and zooming in I noticed I’d had neighbours for a change – a blue tent perched rather precariously close to the edge.

Pike of Stickle and the lost background...

And that was it for the morning. Back into the sleeping bag, resigned to defeat once again.

I’m hoping the next blog post will be imminent, but as I look at the weather forecast for the next week I wouldn’t hold your breath 😉

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5 Responses to Snapshots on Harrison Stickle

  1. Richard Down says:

    These ‘snapshots’ are breathtaking enough. I’ve got a summer holiday coming up so will attempt one or two wild camps to get something approaching these ‘throw away’ shots that actually blow me away. They are brilliant and that is such an incredible part of the Lake District. Love it.

  2. James Bell says:

    Nice post Stewart, love the portrait shot very atmospheric. I need to get my tent out.

  3. Phil says:

    It’s always worth it Stewart. A few years ago I camped out at around 3200′ on the Grey Corries to try and capture an Annular eclipse. When I woke at around 4:00 am I could tell it was cloudy and almost went beck to sleep, but just in case I poked my head out of the tent door to see the cloud slowly clearing.

    Got a brew on the go and spent a glorious two hours watching the unfolding drama.

  4. Deborah Lee says:

    Beautiful images! Particularly love the Sunrise, Pavey Ark and Stickle Tarn shot 🙂

  5. Stewart says:

    Thanks all 🙂 Hopefully a few more decent mornings to come…

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