Martin Lawrence Photography
Photographing the Buttermere Bothies
Posted on 28th July, 2019
There are three bothies in the Buttermere area. Warnscale Head Bothy and Dubs Hut lie high up in the fells. The White Hut lies on the shores of Buttermere itself. The first two are owned by the Mountain Bothies Association (MBA) and are free to use. You can’t pre-book them. You just have to turn up and hope that no one has beaten you to it or, if they have, that they are willing to share the accommodation. The White Hut lies on private land and is not accessible to the general public. It’s position, however, allows it to be photographed in all its glory from across the lake.
Image: Haystacks and the White Hut at Buttermere Prints Available
THE WHITE HUT - (OS grid reference NY 178 168 best positioning for photography)
HOW TO GET THERE
The hut lies on the southeastern shore of Buttermere on private land. The best place to photograph it is from the B5289 Honister Pass Road just beyond Gatesgarth Farm in the direction of Buttermere village. There is no parking at this spot, as the road is very narrow so you will need to use the paid parking area at the farm and carefully walk the short distance along the road.
Image: Sunrise over Haystacks, Buttermere Prints Available
WHAT TO PHOTOGRAPH
Images are best taken early in the morning when the sun is at right angles to your position and the hut. If you try to capture an image any later, you will be shooting towards the sun as it climbs up over Haystacks. To avoid trespassing you will need to use a long lens, say 100 – 400 mm to capture both the hut at a decent size together with Haystacks behind it. When using a longer focal length lens ensure that the shutter speed is equal to or greater then the focal length of the image being taken. This does not apply, of course, if you are using a tripod when camera shake will not be an issue. Don’t forget to use a set of ND Graduated Filters to get the best out of the sky. Please check out my article How to Achieve Beautiful Landscape Images with a set of Graduated Neutral Density Filters for advice on how to use these.
Image: Fleetwith Pike at the head of Buttermere Prints Available
It is also possible to capture the hut from the western shore of the lake whilst on the popular circuit of Buttermere. As you can see from the image, the dry stone wall makes an ideal lead -in line for the shot as well as the shore line which leads the eye not only to the hut but also to Fleetwith Pike behind it. This shot is best taken later on in the day when the sun is out of shot. I used my 24 – 105 mm lens for this particular shot.
Image: Dubs Hut, Buttermere
DUBS HUT - (OS grid reference NY 209 134)
HOW TO GET THERE
The easiest way to reach the hut is to start at the top of Honister Pass (Grid ref. NY 225 135) where there is a National Trust pay and display car park behind the Youth Hostel. There is also a limited circular bus service 77/77A to this point that runs from Keswick.
From the car park, walk alongside the road passing the slate factory on your left. Enter the quarry yard, go up a few concrete steps and pick up a path signed ‘Great Gable and Haystacks’ which starts to climb immediately leading you onto the old abandoned quarry tramway. This is Moses Trod, which owes its name to a colourful old quarryman called Moses Rigg. There is about 500 feet of ascent before you begin to descend again reaching the old quarry building of Dubs Hut at Dubs Quarry.
Image: Haystacks panorama and Dubs Hut Prints Available
WHAT TO PHOTOGRAPH
There are some great images to be had as you walk along the tramway, which is still adorned with old railway sleepers and the remains of the old Drum House. The views in front of you towards Green and Great Gable are particularly good. As you approach the hut, there is a panoramic shot that takes in Haystacks and the whole of the High Stile Range.
Image: First light on Dubs Hut and Haystacks Prints Available
I know its always tempting to get up early and catch a sunrise with some warm colours, but trust me; you don’t want to get to the hut too early. Its set behind an incline and will still be in shadow. I’ve been here about an hour after sunrise and it’s a great image to capture just as the sun lights up the hut.
There are spoil heaps to the right of the hut that will allow you to get some elevation if you climb one of the small paths amongst them. The heaps are made up of loose slate so do take care. Take a wide-angle lens to capture both the hut and surrounding fells.
Image: I'm moving in tomorrow Prints Available
WARNSCALE HEAD BOTHY - (OS grid reference NY 205 133)
HOW TO GET THERE
Unless you know just where it is, finding Warnscale Head Bothy can be a bit of a challenge. It is built from local slate and well camouflaged in amongst the spoil heaps.
The best way to approach it is to carry on from Dubs Hut along the Haystacks path and drop down towards the river where you will find stepping stones that you can use to cross over it. Continue along the Haystacks path for about 50 yards then take a small but obvious path that goes off to the right and traverses below the crags to the bothy. It’s only about two minutes walk from where you turned right. Just keep keeping to the left until you come to a huge spoil heap and you will find the bothy directly below it. It’s easily missed so if you’ve walked for more that two minutes, retrace your steps and try again.
Image: A view to die for from Warnscale Bothy Prints Available
WHAT TO PHOTOGRAPH
This has to be one of the best views in Lakeland and has become very popular with photographers and fell-walkers alike.
The best place to take a shot is from behind the hut a few metres up the spoil heap looking down the valley towards Buttermere and Crummock Water. There are a few level places where you can just about place your tripod but you need to be extremely careful here as the slate can be loose and slippery especially in wet weather. A wide-angle lens is a must in this location. As for the time of day, this is a tricky one. You want the sun high enough in the sky to light up Haystacks but not too late in the day to avoid glare from the sun. It is, however, a perfect place mid-summer to capture a sunset as the sun sets directly above Buttermere. If you choose to do this remember that the downward route back to Honister Slate Mine is at least 45 minutes so don’t leave it too late and pack a head torch. You could, of course, choose to stay the night instead!
Image: Buttermere through the square window at Warnscale Bothy
Inside the hut is a window where you can get the famous ‘room with a view’ shot. There are usually a few candles lying about which make good props to stand on the windowsill.
Why not join me on one of my 1-2-1 or Small Group Photography Workshops and we can visit all three of these bothies together along with the surrounding area which offers many more photographic opportunities.