Recently I spent a happy few days walking in the Lake District with friends. We stayed at a youth hostel in Buttermere. The weather was surprisingly amenable. The highlight of the trip was climbing Haystacks, Lakeland guide-book author Alfred Wainwright’s favourite fell. His ashes are scattered at the summit.
The natural beauty of the area is, of course, astonishing. The landscape was an assembly of varied and vivid colours, enhanced on this occasion by rare early June sunshine. I felt compelled to document this unique palette and often found myself on hands and knees photographing a detailed patch of grass or section of rock. There were many different areas of colour. I have arranged them in the following groups:
The bright sky could always be seen reflected in the rippled windblown surface of the water. As it changed from morning pale to afternoon royal, the blue became blotted with white clouds, sometimes transforming, seemingly on a whim, to the mid-grey rain variety.
In all its tones the dominant colour of Buttermere. Leaves on trees were spectacularly backlit by sunshine, lichens virtually pinged with vibrancy, mosses splashed Pollack-like onto rock and flowers fizzed with luminescence – just like the primary Birds-foot trefoil shown here.
Other parts of the fells were richer and more muted. Wild grass in bottle-green and mustard, emerald algae sparkling beneath a tarn surface and faded heather clinging to the feet of grey granite boulders.
We happened upon an uprooted tree, possibly an oak. It had been split lengthways revealing a richly lined inner texture. It looked like a great wave frozen in sunlight. Varied types of rock, mottled brown and aged over millions of years – granite, limestone, slate and sandstone on which shadows cast by it’s folded layers formed angry expressions.
Much of The Lake District is formed from volcanic activity resulting in a lovely abundance of fiery reds and ochres. Attractive orange-amber stones populated the summit tarn of Haystacks turning it to rust. On the way down the early evening sun threw a copper cast on brownish-yellow plains of long grass.
Among our finds was a large section of dirty-white fleece and, further up, the cleanly stripped carcass of a sheep, it’s bones gleaming brightly as if scrubbed. Clear water flowing over pallid pebbles in the shallows, acres of grey slate, and granite, sometimes speckled like a bird’s egg, added to the neutral colour selection.
NB For readers interested in more from the Lake District, my good friend Philip McAllister has a selection of marvellous landscape images from this trip on his Flickr page.