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Lake District All-Nighter (Amazing!!!)

Updated: Sep 3, 2022

All night photography outings are few and far between in my world, but when they do happen,

it often results in a variety of shots, from sunset and through the night, to sunrise the following morning. I rarely miss a photo opprtunity if I help it, although it happened on a few occasions, ha. My previous all night affairs have been visits to the Lake District, which is a 90 minute drive from my base in Houghton-le-Spring, Tyne & Wear, so more of the same seemed like a very good idea.

It's the tail end of August 2022 and I made another solo pilgrimage to Lakeland. It was somewhat of a spontaneous decision to make the journey west, as I left it quite late in the day to get my car on the road. I left home around 7pm, fully loaded with the vast majority of my camera gear and more importantly, some music, podcasts, food & drink lol. In photoraphy terms, I treat these all-nighters as a kind of special occasion, so from the minute I set off from home, the good stuff kicks in - usually with some good sounds playing through the speakers. At first, I caught up with the last part of a podcast from Talksport. It was 'My Sporting Life', featuring ex-Middlesbrough and Liverpool footballer, Craig Johnstone. This was by far the best episode yet and made for very good listening. I also had a bag full of s51t to throw down my neck, during the drive. As I sat behind the wheel, I wondered what lay ahead and whether I was gonna pull in some nice astro shots to begin with, followed by some sunrise shots at Buttermere the following morning. Buttermere is my go-to location for sunrise and it never lets me down. If it aint broken...why fix it???

90 minutes in and I find myself leaving the A66 westbound for a slight detour to the shores of Ullswater. It's here that I bagged a nice shot of the Duke of Portland Boathouse, with the milky way shining brightly overhead. That was back in 2020. Fast forward two years and I'm itching to try the same composition once again, with my upgrade - the Canon R5 body. The predicted forecast of clear skies didn't quite materialise, as I found myself looking towards a bank of cloud, right where I didn't want it. Hmmm, this wasn't part of the plan! Oh well, maybe another time, eh. I could have returned a few hours later, when the clouds had gone, but by that time the core of the milky way wouldn't have been visible, as there was only a short window of opportunity to photograph it, so back to the car I went.

Back on the A66 westbound, I decided to head into Keswick to tick off Castlerigg Stone Circle. The slight crescent moon had set by this time and it was pitch dark up there. Throw into the mix a herd full of coughing sheep and the night was becoming quite a giggle. The stone circle was surrounded by herdies, but they sharp moved aside when the Roaming Mackem photographer arrived.

Within seconds of opening my rucksack, to set up my gear, I heard a voice behind me saying "Hello there, it looks like you're doing some astro photography too". I turned around to find another tog setting up a star tracker on his tripod, so it was nice to have a bit company in the shape of the like-minded. And that was least 30 minutes of photography chat and nothing else. It reminded me of my visit to the exact same spot in 2020, when I met Ernie Holding, in very similar circumstances and we also got very little photography done ha. This guys name is Andrew Foster (insta - fozzeee) and I recall him saying he was holidaying in Keswick and he was from 'Down south, somewhere' (location forgotten!) Within an hour he was on his way and I suddenly had the place to myself, give or take a few dozen sheep. I done a 180 degree turn and decided to shoot north, as my Aurora App was hammering me with Amber alerts. I did manage to pick up a slight magenta aurora diffuse, behind the stone circle, but it was nothing to write home about. I shot a few frames of the stones, with the milky way overhead, before heading back to the car and eyeing up 'STOP NUMBER 3'.

Canon R5, with 16-35L lens, aperture F2.8, shutter 15 seconds, ISO 3200, WB 4500

And just a few minutes later I dropped anchor in Lakeside Car Par, Keswick. It's a 2 minute walk from the car park, down the slope to Keswick Launch. It's here you'll find the rows of iconic rowing boats, all neatly varnished and ready to hit the lake. As far as foreground goes, this is a must for photography, although many would consider it a cliche shot - it just has to be ticked off!!! And the temptation to go in and run a few frames off is hightened by the amazing sight of the milky way. Now, that IS a combination shot, if ever there was one. Up went the tripod, out came the camera and on went the lens. Here we go - GAME ON!!!

Canon R5, with 16-35L lens, aperture f2.8, shutter 15 seconds, ISO 3200, WB 4700

I hung around for 45 minutes or so, switching from landscape to portrait format and clicking away, as you do. You could almost hear a pin drop. The place was so quite and the waters were so still. This is half the reason I do this kind of shit - it's definitely good for the soul, ha.

By this time, it's approaching 1am and I'm almost half way through my 'All-nighter'. How quickly time passes! A quick snack and a can of pepsi in the car park, then I'm off again. This time it's another short drive, to Ashness Jetty, which is further round the shore of Derwent Water. I parked up near the foot of Ashness Bridge turn off, then made my way down to the shore to grab a couple of shots before calling it a night. Again, I had the place to myself. If I thought it was errily silent at Keswich Launch, then Ashness Bridge gave it a run for its money, without a doubt. I recall standing in awe of the scene in fornt of me, with clear skies and billions of stars above me and a mirror like Derwent Water directly in front. I heard a fox screaming in the nearby forest and a couple of owls calling to eachother, behind me. Could it get any better than this? This was a world away from the built up hustle and bustle...fact!!. The things we see and hear everyday and quickly become accustomed to, but this was back to nature - this was an idyllic setting and proof beyond any reasonable doubt that the Lake District doesn't lose its magic when darkness falls. It comes alive once again, just as it does at dawn, and I was experiencing the best of both worlds (night & day), with the main event to come...sunrise at Buttermere! (smile)

Canon R5, with Samyang 14mm prime lens, aperture f2, shutter 10 seconds, ISO 3200

So here I am, Ashness Jetty...on my own, drinking it all in, when a car passes and stops a few yards down the road. I hear four doors slam shut. Yes...four! And who the hell is this, at almost 2am???? The voices get louder as they get nearer and I catch sight of headtorches, as they walk down the steps towards the jetty. Female voices, of that I'm sure. I turn in their direction, just to give them the heads up that they aren't alone, when a little scream fills the air, then giggles, then I greet them with a friendly 'Hello'. I quickly expain that I'm taking photographs, but they probably gathered that when they saw my set-up. It was four girls, and one of them politely asked whether they were in the way of my camera. I told them they weren't. I was shooting in the opposite direction anyway lol. They were interested in what I was photographing and one of them said 'How can ya take a photograph when it's pitch dark' I replied 'Oh the camera takes care of all that - I just press the shutter button' (wink). I showed them some of the shots I'd taken, at the stone circle and more notably, the rowing boats at Keswick Launch. They were well impressed to, say the least, which was a nice touch. I asked them what they were doing out in the sticks, in pitch dark, at almost 2am. They explained that they were camping nearby, couldn't sleep, so they decided to go for a walk lol. (as ya do @ 2am lol). Nice kids...and good company for the short time it lasted.

I left Ashness Jetty behind and made my way to my final destination - Buttermere. I passed Lodore Hotel, then through Seatoller, before the climb up towards Honister Slate Mine and eventually decending Honister Pass. There was a few cars and camper vans at the roadside during the journey. Within a couple of minutes I was down and off Honister Pass, before making the 2 minute drive to the edge of Buttermere. I always park at the roadside, near the locked metal gate where the path leads you to the shore. I was half expecting 'my' parking spot to be taken, but it wasn't, so that was a relief. Parking spots are like gold dust at this location! By this time I was ready for a very late supper - after all, it was appraoching 3am.

Out came the Chicken Tikka Chasni (Homemade Indian curry), along with a 330ml bottle of Birra Moretti. It doesn't get much better than this. How often do people rock up to Buttermere at 3am and treat themselves to an Indian meal lol. Honestly, it was absolutely banging!!! Have you ever bought an Indian curry, but never ate it all, usually after a night on the p155, then revisited it the following morning. Cold curry seems to take on an extra layer of flavour, especially when all those spices and chunks of chicken are marinating. My only regret is that I didn't pack a Naan bread to mop up the last of the ruby, in the silver carton lol. It would be a crime to leave traces of this beautiful curry sauce, when it should be making its way down my neck. Never mind. I sat there with a full stomach and took a moment to reflect, as I finished off my bottle of lager, straight from the cool box. Despite the pitch darkness, I actually felt, for a short while, that I was in heaven LOL. Granted, I was knackered by this time and ready to get my head down, so out came the duvet and pillow, down went the passenger seat, and that was me clocking off for a couple of hours. I took one look out the window before chucking the duvet over my bonce - the sky was still clear and the stars were still twinkling. I was wholeheartedly loving every moment!!

5.50am and my alarm call greets me. What a surprisingly good kip that was. If Carlsberg done overnight accomodation, a Qashqai wouldn't exactly sweep the prize board, but the location certainly made up for that. I got out the car and had a quick stretch, put a brew on and simply stood there, taking in my first view of Buttermere in daylight. Wow, it really does take your breath away. I noticed another car was pulled in next to mine, which wasn't there when I arrived a couple of hours ago. Probably another photographer.

Without further ado, I swapped my astro lenses for landscape duty glass, put my fleece on and headed down to the shore. Indeed there was another photographer insitu and we started chatting from the off. The guy is ABRAHAM PHOTOGRAPHY, based in Hull, but holidaying in the lakes, with family, for a few days. Nice lad.

Smartphone shot (Samsung Galaxy S20 5G (Point & shoot mode, not PRO)

There was a low band of mist moving across the water, to the right, and this was cool to watch. Sunrise had been and gone, but as we were in the valley, it was a while before we saw our first sunlight clipping the fell tops. Then the clouds rolled in, but what an effect it had on photography. Some amazing reflections in the still water. Then more clouds drifted across and promptly closed down the photography. By then though, the shots were well and truly IN THE BAG. What a fantastic start to the day, an an even better ending to what was yet another amazing ALL-NIGHTER in the Lake District. This place always delivers!!

Smartphone shot (Samsung Galaxy S20 5G (Point & shoot mode, not PRO)

Smartphone shot (Samsung Galaxy S20 5G (Point & shoot mode, not PRO)

And that was that. Trip almost over. All that was left to do was grab some breakfast, before heading back to the north-east. Brekky was delivered in the shape of a £4.50 coffee and butty deal, in a local Spar/petrol station. The cappuccino was immense, but sadly the butty was piss poor - I still ate the bugger though. You'll not see Asho chuck scran in the bin - NEVER!!! lol

Smartphone shot (Samsung Galaxy S20 5G (Point & shoot mode, not PRO)

Mid-day and I was back home, sitting down with my other half and necking another very welcome cup of coffee. I then edited a few photo's, then went to bed for a couple of hours. An added bonus came in the shape of one of my Buttermere sunrise shots being shown on BBC LOOK NORTH weather bulletin, the same day. It rounded off a splendiferous 'All nighter' for the Roaming Mackem photographer.


Thanks for dropping by to read my latest blog offering. I'll be back soon with some more waffle.




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