Mountains, lakes, waterfalls and sheer desire to explore and discover the beauty on a solitary journey attracted me to the adventure of fell walking. This combined with my passion for landscape photography was a recipe for success. I wanted to push my creative flare and love of the outdoors. The love began, I needed boots!
I turned to the Lake District and there faced the challenge of ‘bagging’ the 214 Wainwrights, named after Alfred Wainwright MBE, a British fell walker, guidebook author and illustrator. He published a seven-volume Pictorial Guide to the Lakeland Fells, between 1955 and 1966 which has now become a reference to the fells of The Lake District. From an early age, I loved to explore and this was a challenge of fitness and use of my creative flare to photograph this beautiful part of England. I started in 2016 and as I write this post, I have climbed 113 leaving 101 to go.
The image above was taken from the summit of Helvellyn, one of my first fells to climb. At 950m, it is one of Englands tallest mountains and famous for the heart wrenching arete of Striding Edge, an approximate 500 metre narrow ridge leading to the summit from the East. As of today I have not attempted the challenge but hope to or to at least set foot on it and photograph the drama. The majority of the fells in the Lake District are however easy to reach and offer some spectacular views, especially the lower fells where there is an advantage of being able to look up at some of the drama that unfolds.
Fell walking is an escape from the hustle and bustle of my daily working life where I am free of any worries, any bad tempers, any intrusion into my world where I choose to belong from now and then. It keeps me fit in both body and mind, breathing the fresh air, fighting the elements or soaking up the sunshine. As my adventure unfolds, I am gaining more confidence of my environment and enjoy knowing where I am with less and less need for a map and compass. Of course the fells can surprise you and hit you when you are not expecting it such as the occasion where I was on The Buttermere ridge, coming off Red Pike where a massive veil of cloud smothered all hopes of vision and I was lost with no knowledge of my exact position. A very small break in the cloud revealed Buttermere lake and from that point I knew a general direction of where to and where not go. The Winter day had only left me with about half an hour of light to get back on track. Thank fully I made it but from that day I learnt how to read a map and use GPS ever since.
Landscape photography does not come easy whilst fell walking and depends a lot on the weather conditions as does all landscape photography but especially high up in the fells as conditions can change so rapidly. We are experiencing a long and hot summer here in UK at the moment which has resulted in cloudless and hazy skies throughout the day, leading to limited opportunities for good images. Fell walking for me however is an all year round event and on some days the luck is on my side with low lying clouds kissing the sides of the fells and the magical sun bursts and momentary splashes of light. These moments, together with a sense of achievement and time to reflect are why I will continue to enjoy this wonderful past time. My aim is to climb all 214 fells and if I manage to come away with some Portfolio standard images then that will be a bonus but what is more moment is the memories.