We are now halfway through the year, and finally getting the UK version of a summer! I love the brighter and longer nights as it means I have more time in the early evenings to get out for walks, particularly when I've been at work during the day! This month I was scheduled in to work quite a bit, but I did have a week booked off so I decided to have a little break away at Coniston at my grandads house so we could spend some quality time together out walking. I used to spend a week or so every summer holiday at my grandparents and I'm glad that even now at 25 this is something we continue to do. I had previously stayed in October and it was really nice to spend some quality time together, so this time I decided to spend an extra night there so we could fit in a couple of extra walks! Luckily the weather was dry whilst I was there, so we managed to get a lot ticked off our list!
Our first wander for the week was over at Torver, primarily the parts of the common which are home to Kelly Hall Tarn and Long Moss. My grandad was happy to do some of those 'thingys' aka geocaches and there were a few in the area of the tarns (plus the trail feature helps me plan many a walks!). Despite being a stones throw away from the road, once you are along the path taking you up towards the main part of the common you can barely hear the traffic, and the curvature of the terrain hid the road from view. We made our way up to Kelly Hall Tarn, a place which I had seen several photos of on social media, and despite being very small it was extremely beautiful and instantly my mind was processing the various compositions I could use within my photography. The bright blue sky above reflected into the water and it contrasted beautifully against the warm greens and browns of the grass and shrubbery around. I particularly liked the tree which sat on the edge of the small tarn, it seemed so large against the water and each branch bearing leaves was distinct against the rolling field of green behind it and there was no other trees or shrubs nearby so it always caught you attention whatever angle you were viewing the tarn from. We did look for a geocache by this tarn, but we ended up veering off the path into some ground which hadn't been dried from the June sun so we made lour way back to the path and towards Long Moss.
The gradual gradient of the common meant that quickly Kelly Hall Tarn could no longer be seen behind us, and Long Moss was yet to come into view. When it did so, it seemed quite small, similar to the other tarn, but it soon began to stretch across the horizon ash we approached a 'viewpoint' on the common overlooking both Long Moss and parts of Coniston Water. Long Moss seemed to curve around the distinct rocks embedded into the grassy common, resting in the dip below the viewpoint. The craggy outcrop of the view point framed the body of water residing below, and we spent a good few minutes searching this area for another geocache but to no avail! After this, we made our way up onto the viewpoint which overlooked both Long Moss and a section of Coniston Water. It was fun aligning shots to contain both of them with the jagged edges of the rocky outcrop pointing towards the water surfaces. It was also nice to view Coniston Water from above at a different angle to what I'm used to (primarily the view from my grandparents house above the village) and a different section of Grizedale forest. Unfortunately you can see large areas of deforestation in the forest from my grandparents house, but the the trees that were densely packed into the valley on the other side of the water looked to be going strong and healthy. Once I'd finished getting far too many photos, it began to spit and we made our way back to my Grandad's van and back home just before the heavier rain started!
On my first full day I had the morning to myself so I decided to go for a little wander around the lake. I got up early as to beat the crowds heading towards the lake on this sunny day as I wanted to find a secluded spot to chill, as well as getting photographs with minimal people in shot! I wandered down the steep hill that leads to my grandparents house and headed straight towards the shore by the Bluebell cafe and work out my plan of action from there. I stayed here for a little while and as it got busier I decided to head back towards the main path which took you towards the head of the lake. Whilst I was walking I had two contrasting scenes of weather - the vibrant colouring and sparkle of the pasture and the lake underneath the morning sun as it began warm up, and the moody, somewhat foreboding Coppermine Valley and surrounding fells covered in a thick layer of grey cloud. It did seem that worse weather was avoiding the main village, but I decided to make sure I had some place to shelter if the rain changed direction, so I headed to the head of the lake where there are several trees along the shore and road.
I ended up wandering to to the side of the shore adjacent from Coniston village, through the small section of woodland which led to the Monk Coniston jetty. I decided to stop here for a little bit and have my first cuppa from my flask that day, and watch the clouds roll over the hills. From here you could see The Old Man clearly (well, what wasn't under the cloud!) and it made the Coppermine Valley seem so insignificant on the horizon! I did contemplate using the boat to travel across the lake, but in my haste to beat the public, I was much earlier than the first boat ride across the lake so I decided to backtrack towards the cafe and explore the lake shore towards Torver. I managed to find a secluded strip of shoreline past Coniston Hall to sit at for a while. I took the time to gather my thoughts and relax whilst I finished my flask of coffee. The lake was quiet, and any sound from the campsite was being redirected away from my spot by the slight breeze that could be felt by the waters edge. Occasionally a boat would cross the lake, catching my eye as the ripples they caused as sparkle from the sunshine. I was lucky to have found this quiet spot when I did, as a few people did make a beeline for the shore before realising I had made myself comfy in the spot with the best view! I stayed here quite a while until the shade which had been keeping me cool had made its way further down the lake, which as I took as my queue to head back to prep the dinner for tonight!
Once my Grandad got back from work, we decided to go on a little wander up to the Coppermine Village. I can remember going up here as a kid and almost dying from the steep hills, and when my Grandma said it was time to turn around I think I probably ran all the way back down! So this time I was excited to go and properly take in my surroundings, and see if the gradient was as bad as my little legs thought it was! We wandered up towards the fell gate at the bottom of The Bell, cutting out the steep Walna Scar road by wandering through a naturally wild wood beside my grandparents house, before making our way along the bottom of The Bell towards Coppermine Valley. The windy path along the bottom of The Bell meant that the view was constantly changing - with The Old Man to the left looking just as grand as I had seen that morning, and snippets of Coniston Water between the breaks in the tree branches to the right. The tiny path marked out in amongst the waist height bracken made it feel like you were wandering through wilderness miles from any living human yet in reality the village was just a stones throw away. When we made it into Coppermine Valley, we crossed the water channel and wandered up into the main part of the village. I find it interesting how these areas with such a vibrant history are tucked away in places that would never be considered easily accessible even for today's standards. It was interesting to see how past and present methods of engineering meet in this area, and how you can see how technology and man have evolved and adapted to succeed in their endeavors. It was also fascinating to hear how rapidly these areas have changed over the past 50 years since my Grandads first visit, and even within the few years since his last one too! My grandad pointed out the main path up towards the Old Man, and we both agreed that we would make it up there soon! I desperately want a picture of My Old Man of Coniston at the top of the fell!
The following day my Grandad wasn't at work, so we decided to get a couple of walks in together! In the morning we made our way to part of Grizedale forest. Again I have fond memories from when I was a child that took place here, a lot of them including my grandparents dogs Sam and Charlie! The only part I think I recognised was the car park and principle path leading from there, as many pathways had been added or altered in route and many areas had been felled of trees to make way for new ones to be planted. It's sad to see lots of deforestation but I guess its somewhat of a natural life cycle as it is needed for other trees to grow securely and healthily, plus I made a mental note to visit this section every few years to see how quickly these trees have grown! I particularly appreciate how majority of walks in the Coniston area have the Old Man of Coniston and the other fells as a major presence of the horizon, and this section of Grizedale forest was no different. On parts of the higher path, it takes you above thick sections of the forest so that you can see the fells appearing from the green sea formed from the treetops. We wandered for about an hour, slowly looping back towards the car park and headed home for some lunch before our next walk of the day.
In the afternoon, we decided to tackle an Outlying Wainwright, and another places my Grandad hadn't visited in donkeys years, Latterbarrow. We managed to grab the parking spot close to the footpath from the main road and began walking through the farmland which was home to the route up the fell. The path ran through open green pastures, which meant we could sometimes veer off the path to take in the view which appeared in the clearings of the trees if viewed from the right angle - perfect photography opportunities (goes without saying really!). There wasn't too many people making their way down the fell as we ascended, so we primarily had the place to ourselves so we could really take our time, especially as the temperature was beginning to rise! When we reached the top there were several groups of people here, all approaching from different footpaths linking Latterbarrow to the surrounding area. We managed to sit under the large Cairn that rests on the top to have a little snack and rest before having a slow wander around the top. The views from up here are fantastic over Lake Windermere and the villages that rest on its shores, it's quite a large area on the top of Latterbarrow too which slowly blends into the wooded Claife Heights and surrounding fells. After spending a bit of time on the top of Latterbarrow, taking in the scenery and taking plenty of photos, we headed back down on a different path which still led us to where we initially started. This route was much more sheltered by a scattering of trees which blocked majority of the suns heat from hitting our skin, which was much appreciated after being exposed up on the top for so long! Definitely somewhere I would like to explore again, especially wandering towards Wray Castle or Claife Heights!
On my last morning, I didn't really have much of a plan of action but I didn't want to go too far as I still had to pack up my stuff ready to leave that afternoon. I found myself wandering along part of the old railway line onto the public footpath along the farm track which rests just off Walna Scar road. Snippets of the lake kept appearing through the gaps in the trees, it looked particularly still today, with only a few ripples being made by someone canoeing on the lake. I made my way across several fields as I approached the Coniston Fells, with the sheep residing there not batting an eyelid as I passed, and each step I took brought out more depth to the curvature of the Old Man of Coniston and the dip which formed the Coppermines. If hadn't have been heading home this day, I probably would have had a wander up to the top of the Old Man, but in honesty with the heat I was quite grateful to stay within less exposed ground! As amazing as it is to be looking down over the Lake District from the top of a mountain, there is still awe and wonderment to get from looking at the fells that dominate the Cumbrian skyline from where they meet the ground too. I wandered quite far up Walna Scar road, just looking up towards the Old Man and The Bell which I had walked by just a couple of days before in awe. I am honestly so lucky to have had such a beautiful place to visit and explore as a child, I think these memories have certainly influenced my interest in nature photography and documenting these places!
I absolutely love my little getaways to Coniston, and I already have so much planned for my next few days away (probably to do in Spring/Summer rather than my next Autumn stay, though!) it really does me good to get away from the hustle and bustle of my small market town and just recharge my batteries surrounded by nature! I definitely recommend it for the soul!
Here's hoping we have a fantastic couple of months of Summer ahead of us!