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Martin Lawrence Photography

Best locations for autumn photography in the Lake District

Posted on 3rd September, 2018

Autumn is one of the most spectacular times to visit the Lake District. It becomes a riot of colour; reds, oranges, yellows and purples. The colour can start from the middle of October and last through to early November depending on the weather.

This guide will show you some of the best locations to photograph. It's information that I've gathered over the many years I've been privileged to photograph and teach there and will give you a sure-fire start to getting images in, what I consider to be, the best season of the year.

Best locations for autumn photography in the Lake District

Image: Footpath through Dodd Wood Prints Available

DODD WOOD, BASSENTHWAITE - (OS grid reference NY 240 275)

HOW TO GET THERE
Dodd Wood lies along the east side of the A591 which runs from Keswick to Bothel. It has its own Pay and Display parking area alongside The Old Sawmill Tea Rooms. This car park gives access to the many footpaths up through the woods to the summit of Dodd and Skiddaw, the Osprey Project viewpoint and Mirehouse. There is a refund on the parking fee is you visit Mirehouse.

WHAT TO SHOOT
The woods that run along the east side of the A591 are spectacular in autumn especially in October. There is a winding footpath running through them just by the road which gives a great lead-in to your shot. If you are lucky and pick a crisp autumn morning, you may catch the mist lifting with shafts of sunlight falling down between the trees. Best time for this would be mid-morning.

There are many footpaths up through the woods from the tearooms to the summit of Dodd from which there are great panoramic views across Bassenthwaite Lake and up to Derwentwater. It's a relatively short but sharp climb on easy paths. An attractive stream runs up through the woods but it's difficult to get down to and include in a shot and often clogged up with debris after heavy rain.

Best locations for autumn photography in the Lake District

Image: Autumn sunshine at Friars Crag, Derwentwater Prints Available

FRIARS CRAG, DERWENTWATER - (OS grid reference NY 264 228)

HOW TO GET THERE
Make your way to Keswick boat landings which is just past the Theatre by the Lake in Keswick. Carry on walking past the boat landings and follow the wide path with Derwentwater on your right. After about half a mile, you will come to Friars Crag, a promontory jutting out into the lake.

WHAT TO SHOOT
There is excellent autumn colour even before you reach the crag on your path alongside the lake. Be sure not to miss this.

Friars Crag is best visited either early in the morning or on a still autumn evening.  You get an excellent view looking down the lake towards the Jaws of Borrowdale and Castle Crag or across the lake to Catbells, Maiden Moor and Causey Pike from a bench situated right on the edge of the crag itself.  When you come away from the viewpoint, carry on along the path a little further and drop right down a small path and through a gate into the bay.  There is a fence here, often covered in flotsam after high water has receded, that you can use as a great lead into the picture. The sun hits the bay about half an hour after sunrise so shooting late morning and early afternoon can be difficult due to the position of the sun. This is common throughout the year.

On a still morning you can get superb reflections of the complete crag in all its autumn glory in the bay.

Best locations for autumn photography in the Lake District

Image: Autumn shadows at Penny Rock Woods, Grasmere Prints Available

PENNY ROCK WOODS, GRASMERE - (OS grid reference NY 344 060)

HOW TO GET THERE
There are two car parks on the north west side of the lake on the A591. Both are pay and display and signposted as “White Moss Walks”. One is located at Grid Ref NY 349 067, the second is closer to the lake at Grid Ref NY 351 065. There are also a couple of lay-bys suitable for a few cars at the southern end of Grasmere but these fill up fast. You can also park in Grasmere village itself and do a complete circuit of the lake.

WHAT TO SHOOT
The woods alongside the A591 at the southern end of the lake are one of the best locations in the whole of the lake district for autumn colour, especially in October. There are so many great places to shoot. You can either shoot deep inside the woods or through the trees to the lake where you will get a great view of Helm Crag aka The Lion and The Lamb in the background. There is also a pretty bridge and weir at the south east end of the lake where you can shoot slow moving water shots with the autumn background right down the lake. A circuit of the lake will give ample opportunities for a variety of fabulous shots. The world is your oyster here especially close to the A591.

Best locations for autumn photography in the Lake District

Image: Autumn light on Rydal Water Prints Available

RYDAL WATER - (OS grid reference NY 349 067)

HOW TO GET THERE
There are two car parks on the north west side of the lake on the A591. Both are pay and display and signposted as “White Moss Walks”. One is located at Grid Ref NY 349 067, the second is closer to the lake at Grid Ref NY 351 065. An additional pay and display car park is available on the eastern side of the lake at Pelter Bridge, a short distance from the shore, just south of the hamlet of Rydal at NY 365 059.

WHAT TO SHOOT
The four best shots for me are :-

1. The bank of trees along the southern side of the lake

2. The small island close to the A591 on the northern side of the lake

3. The tree close to this island which has become as popular to photograph as the lone tree in Buttermere

4. The boat house on the eastern side of the lake

Not only can you get great autumn colour from the trees but also in the many reed beds that surround the lake particularly around the  the lone tree area at the northern end of the lake.

Best locations for autumn photography in the Lake District

Image: Langdales rainbow at Elterwater Tarn Prints Available

ELTERWATER TARN, LANGDALE - (OS grid reference NY 327 047)

HOW TO GET THERE
From Ambleside, take the A593 towards Coniston. At Skelwith Bridge, turn on to the B5343 to Elterwater. There is a National Trust car park at Elterwater village on the left just past the Brittania Inn.

WHAT TO SHOOT
Elterwater’s name comes from the small tarn by which it sits and the Norse word ‘elter’ meaning swan. The village is nestled amidst the imposing mountains of the Langdale Valley. On your way into the village, you can get some good shots from the main road down onto the village itself. These are particularly good, if the local residents have lit coal fires in the colder months and the smoke is rising into the air from their chimneys. In the village itself, the Brittania Inn is the quintessential English Lakeland Inn. The white-washed building is over 400 years old. Leading out of the NT car park, is a public footpath that takes you down alongside the River Brathay to Elterwater Tarn. There are good images both alongside the river bank and from the tarn itself which is surrounded by reeds and has a great backdrop of the Langdale Pikes. There is usually a swan or two floating about to add to its charm. If you continue a little further along the path, it will lead you alongside the river to Skelwith Force waterfall where you can often find canoeists trying out their hand along this fast moving stretch of the river.

Best locations for autumn photography in the Lake District

Image: Clappersgate Bridge, Ambleside

CLAPPERSGATE BRIDGE - (OS grid reference NY 368 033)

HOW TO GET THERE
From Ambleside, take the A593 towards Coniston. Look out for the old packhorse bridge just after the B5286 turning on the left. There is a lay-by just before it where you can pull in and park.

WHAT TO SHOOT
Clappersgate Bridge is an attractive old stone packhorse bridge which lies across the River Brathay. The river is heavily wooded and great for autumn colour shots.

You can take images looking down on it, landscape or portrait, from the footpath that leads down to and across it from the lay-by. Alternatively, you can make your way down to the river bank and take images of the front of the bridge. This is an excellent place to take slow water shots with your Big Stopper as the fast-flowing river gives some great milky shots. In autumn, the colours can be quite spectacular.

Best locations for autumn photography in the Lake District

Image: Tarn Hows in autumn sunshine Prints Available

TARN HOWS - (OS grid reference NY 327 047

HOW TO GET THERE
Take the B5285 from Coniston or Hawkeshead and follow the signs for Tarn Hows. There's a large National Trust Pay and Display Car Park there.

WHAT TO SHOOT
This can be a very busy place so be sure to come either very early or late if you want to steer clear of the crowds. There is a walk around the tarn which is fully pathed and takes around an hour and a half to complete. There are numerous opportunites for shots either close by the water or from the path itself. Just wander around at your leisure. You can leave the path anywhere as this is National Trust land. There are lots of felled trees on the southern shore of the tarn which make for a great lead in to your shots.

My favourtie location is the Scott memorial on the south east side of the lake. To get there take the path around the east side of the tarn then half way along turn right onto a track signposted to Hawkshead/Old Car Park which doubles back to the viewpoint. This high viewpoint can also give you spectacular views of the Langdale Pikes with the orange autumn colour of the larches in the foreground.

Best locations for autumn photography in the Lake District

Image: Autumn colour surrounds Grasmoor at Crummock Water Prints Available

CRUMMOCK WATER - (OS grid reference NY 149 215

HOW TO GET THERE
Take the A591 out of Keswick towards the A66. Turn left on the A66 and travel west of Bassenthwaite Lake for about 10 miles. Turn left signposted Lorton and make for Lanthwaite Woods Car Park along the B5289. Park in the National Trust Pay and Display Car Park. From here take the wide track out of the back of the car park until you come to the lake. Take the path anti-clock wise past the weir until the autumn colours appear on the east side of the lake.

WHAT TO SHOOT
The view across to Grasmoor with autumn colour surrounding it is the reason why you came to Crummock Water. It's best mid to late October when the larches are at their most colourful. If you continue in the same direction along the lakeside path you will have plenty of photo opportunities with different foreground interests. Just past a small bay you will come to a stone wall with a wooden gate. This can be a stunning location with Rannerdale in the background. If you are lucky the small broken down wooden boat will still be there !! 

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