Photographing The Sunrise Over The Best View In The Lake District

The plan was to head up to Wastwater to climb up Great Gable. We wanted to get there early so that we could avoid the crowds and we could climb up before the sun got too high making it hot. I decided that we may as well go a “little bit earlier” (AKA Wake up at 3 am) and watch the sunrise over Wastwater. It was an early start, but it was worth the extra bit of effort.

Wastwater is one of my favourite views in the Lake District, it’s arguably one of the best. The view you get when driving around the corner looking up at the screes is pretty amazing

Sunrise on Wastwater

Cotton Grass

The first thing I noticed when getting out of the car was all of the cotton grass that was in a patch on the grass so initially, I was drawn to this area. From here you could look over the cotton grass, over Wastwater and the surrounding screes and up to Kirk Fell and Great Gable. Our plan for after the sunrise was to climb Great Gable so it was nice to look up and see where we were heading next.

There was a slight breeze here so I decided to get a photo and then move onto a different composition as I was a bit concerned the wind might cause a bit of motion blur and ruin the image

Sunrise on Wastwater

The Island On Wastwater

On one side of Wastwater the screes tower up into the sky whereas the side I was on was lined with pebbles and boulders.  My eye was drawn to the large island like rocks close to the rocky area. The water was very low so you could easily walk over, in winter the water gets a bit closer.

I framed up a photo focusing mainly on the rocks as they were less likely to be blown around by the wind, I wasn’t too keen on this photo though, it was missing “Something”. So I headed back up to the cotton grass

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Sunrise on Wastwater

Sunrise Over the Cotton Grass, Wastwater


I returned back up to the area of cotton grass as the sun rose as it allowed me to get a quicker shutter speed and keep the ISO low. This time the clouds had rolled in so there was a nice contrast between the silhouette of Great Gable and Kirk Fell against the bright sunrise and the dark clouds

Sunrise on Wastwater

Herdwick Sheep Grazing In The First Light Around Wastwater

Whilst taking the portrait photograph over the cotton grass I noticed a group of Herdwick sheep walking in my direction, I was hoping that they would walk through my composition and graze in the grass, but what are the chances of that? They could go anywhere.

But then they did it, they walked right in front of me, all separately and then one looked up at me. Perfect, I couldn’t have asked for more. How can you not smile when you see their cheeky faces?

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Sunrise on Wastwater

A Curious Baby Herdwick Sheep. Sunrise On Wastwater
I thought that was it, it wouldn’t line up any better for me again so I started looking for a different composition when I spotted the lamb looking at me curiously, the lamb stood staring as the parents kept on eating. Off in the distance, the sun was just coming over the tops of Scafell adding some nice backlighting around the sheep.

Getting up at 3am was worth it. Everything came together nicely just as the best light was happening.

A few of the photographs from this morning are now available as prints from my online store. Order online and get free UK Shipping on all orders.

Here are all of my Wastwater photographs

In the next video and blog, we will be going up Great Gable, a mountain that is in the very heart of the Lake District at a height of 899 m

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