The Lake District is one of the UK’s most stunning national parks and one of the absolute best places in the world for landscape photography. It features glacial lakes, rugged fells, and mountain views, as well as picturesque inns and attractive market towns.
But if you’re a first-time Lake District visitor, what’s the best way to capture beautiful photos? And what are the best locations for a landscape photographer?
In this guide, I share plenty of Lake District landscape photography tips to get you started. I’ve also included seven of my favorite locations. Of course, in a place as beautiful as the Lake District, it’s impossible to mention every awe-inspiring view, so I highly recommend you spend some time exploring the area on your own.
Now, without further ado, let’s take a look at my top tips for Lake District landscapes:
1. Visit during the autumn and winter
The Lake District looks gorgeous at any time of year, but if you only get one shot, then head over during the winter or fall.
Winter can feature snow on the fells, which always makes for some amazing landscape photos. And autumn is a great time to capture fall foliage combined with incredible backdrops.
The Lake District is a popular location, so during the summer months, visitors flock to the area and cause congestion on the roads and walkways. If you’re given the opportunity to go during peak months, don’t pass it up – but if you’re planning a trip in advance, go for a quieter season.
2. Check the weather before heading out
The weather can change rapidly in the Lake District, so you should always keep an eye on the latest forecast. Make sure you’ve shared your location before going off into remote areas, and over-prepare for inclement weather.
If the forecast does show adverse weather, avoid climbing high peaks; you can easily get lost, especially when clouds are low. Leave the more challenging routes for clear days.
Also, always carry a rain cover for your backpack, and I’d recommend storing a camera cover in your bag. A good waterproof cover can keep you shooting long after most other photographers will have thrown in the towel.
3. Take suitable clothing
As I emphasized above, the conditions and temperatures in the Lake District can change quickly, so in addition to protecting your camera, you’ll need to protect yourself.
Pack clothing for all weather, including warm layers in case the temperatures plummet, as well as a raincoat to handle rain.
Note that, up in the mountains, it can often be far colder than at ground level, so make sure you keep extra layers in your bag at all times!
Also, be sure to bring well-fitted walking boots (ideally with good ankle support and strong grip to prevent slips, especially in winter).
4. Walk within your means
Photographing landscapes in the Lake District is amazing – but make sure not to get overexcited. If you push yourself too hard, you might end up temporarily injured (or worse).
Instead, if you’re unsure about your fitness level, go slow. Start with easy walks and work your way up. Eventually, you might be running up and down mountains – but I don’t recommend you try it at the beginning!
5. Take food and drink whenever you go out
Whether you’re planning to head out on a long hike or a short hike, you should always take plenty of food and drink. Dehydration is dangerous, a lack of food can increase your fatigue, and both problems will contribute to mistakes being made.
At the very least, take a water bottle (you can tuck it into a backpack side pocket) and a few non-perishable snacks to eat along the way. And as you go, stop for occasional rests; it’ll give you time to rehydrate, plus it’ll help prevent injuries.
6. Take a map
If you’re embarking on an adventurous walk, you should take a detailed map with you (check out the relevant Ordnance Survey map). Even if you think you’ve memorized the route, you might make a mistake, take a wrong turn, etc., and find yourself in an unknown location with no easy way to get back.
And as I mentioned in Tip 2 above, always inform someone of your planned route. You’re heading out into the wilderness; better safe than sorry!
Must-visit Lake District locations
Below, I share the Lake District landscape photography locations that you absolutely do not want to miss, featuring lakes, rivers, mountain scenery, and more.
1. Derwent lake
One of the best locations to photograph landscapes in the Lake District is, without a doubt, Derwent Water. It offers some of the most magnificent scenery you can imagine, and potential photography subjects include the lake itself, jetties, boats moored along the waterfront, and the stunningly beautiful mountains and scenery that surround the lake.
The lake can look great at any time of the day and in any light. You can shoot with or without the sun, because while golden light is always nice, darker, dramatic skies can help create drama and add mood to your images.
2. Ashness Jetty and Ashness Bridge
Of the many jetties positioned around Derwent lake (see above), Ashness Jetty – situated a few miles along the east shore of Derwent Water – is one of the most photographed.
There’s also Ashness Bridge, which is the most popular bridge in the Lake District for photography. Both locations are great for landscape shooting and deserve to be included on any Lake District bucket list.
If you visit Ashness Jetty in the morning, you will have the sun lighting the fells in the distance; you can also capture a great shot at sunset, as the sun drops below the distant horizon.
At Ashness Bridge, the rocks and stream offer a great range of possible compositions, and it’s an area that can be visited at any time of the day in all seasons. It is worth noting that you will find it quieter in the morning, so if you’d rather visit when it’s less crowded, head out before first light.
3. Cat Bells
The climb up Cat Bells may be steep, but it’s absolutely worth it; with superlative views over Derwent Water, Cat Bells offers plenty of opportunities for Lake District landscape photography.
There are several other views to shoot as you ascend, including Newlands Valley to the west and Skiddaw to the north, and at the top, you’ll be rewarded with a spectacular view. Cat Bells makes for a great location to visit at any time of the day and especially at sunrise.
In the heart of the beautiful Lake District region is Buttermere, located after Borrowdale when traveling from Keswick.
As you approach the lake, you’ll traverse the magnificent Honister Pass, and you can capture stunning images of the road snaking down through the valley. Then there’s Buttermere lake itself, popular among photographers with its Scots pine trees, boats, and shapely high fells that flank up on either side.
One tip: Walk the circular path around the shores of Buttermere. It’s almost entirely level, yet it gives outstanding and constantly changing views of the summits that loom above, including High Stile, Haystacks, Fleetwith Pike, and Robinson. You’ll find endless opportunities for landscape photography, and the reflections, mist, and interesting light can be amazing (especially in the cooler months of autumn and spring).
5. Crummock Water
Beyond Buttermere to the north lies Crummock Water, surrounded by lower fells. Crummock Water was formed at the end of the last ice age from the build-up of debris and silt brought down by a side valley.
There are ample opportunities for landscape photography, thanks to an interesting shoreline with rocks, fences, and even islands to capture. And the lake looks great from any of the surrounding peaks during most of the day and in every season.
Ullswater is an outstanding lake for landscape photography. A few areas to visit include the Duke of Portland Boathouse – go here for sunrise as it faces east – and the jetties.
There are also some great views to be captured from higher elevations, where you can take in the lake from Hallin Fell or the little-visited valley of Martindale. To elevate your images further, compose with an interesting sky and/or good light.
Thirlmere is an artificial lake (reservoir) that was built to store water. There is a road running the length of the lake that provides many interesting photo spots, and views from above the lake can look great, too. The Helvellyn ridge – which lies to the east of Thirlmere – or Armboth Fell and Raven Crag – to the west – gives gorgeous views of the lake and beyond.
Lake District landscape photography: final words
Now that you’ve finished this article, you should be well equipped to enjoy your visit to the Lake District!
So stay safe, walk within your fitness levels, and check the weather – while capturing some gorgeous Lake District landscape photography.
Now over to you:
Which of these Lake District destinations do you plan to visit? Have you been to the Lake District before? Share your thoughts in the comments below!