I’ve been visiting and photographing Derbyshire and the Peak District all my adult life.

I have been fortunate to be able to see and capture, initially on film and latterly in digital format, some unforgettable landscapes in one of the most beautiful counties and national parks in Britain.

A sunrise, a sunset, a perfect mirror reflection in a lake or a snow-clad scene are all very beautiful. However, for me, a landscape partly enveloped in mist or fog tops the list.

Fog is, according to the Met Office, nothing more than cloud at ground level.

As such, on those rare occasions where it sits like a blanket in a Peak valley, it brings a grandeur to the landscape that is reminiscent of conditions that exist in mountain areas such as the Alps.

Again, according to the Met Office, fog is mainly composed of water droplets and there are no fewer than five different forms of this phenomena.

In the photographs I share here I won’t attempt to classify which type of fog applies to each image, but in researching this article I learned something new!

For those interested, the five different forms of fog are:



Radiation Fog

This type of fog forms mainly in winter and under clear skies and calm conditions. When the land cools overnight the ability of the air to hold moisture is reduced and condensation and fog forms.

Valley Fog

A relatively common feature in the Peak District, this type of fog happens when cold dense air occurs in the lower part of a valley. It is often caused by a temperate inversion when warm air passes over the top of the valley.

Advection Fog

When warm air passes over a colder surface, advection fog occurs. For example, this is seen over landscapes with snow cover and is very common at sea when moist warm air moves over cooler waters.

Upslope Fog

As air is blown up a slope it cools and as it does the moisture within it condenses, again forming fog.

Evaporation Fog

This type of fog is caused by cold air passing over moist land or warmer water (effectively this is advection fog but in reverse).

And now for the photos…


Great British Life: View west from Cats Tor, Goyt Valley Photo: Gary WallisView west from Cats Tor, Goyt Valley Photo: Gary Wallis

View west from Cats Tor, Goyt Valley

On the day these pictures were taken the majority of the Peak District was enveloped in thick fog.

I drove across most of the park seeking high ground on the off-chance I could get above the cloud and was unsuccessful in almost all the places I visited.

However, as I climbed out of the Goyt Valley towards Pym Chair, the fog became less dense and as I reached the broad ridge of the tors I was above the cloud base.

I hurriedly donned my walking boots and made my way across the ridge that links Cats Tor with Shining Tor.

On a clear day the view westwards from Cats Tor is extensive, with Jodrell Bank towards Knutsford and the outskirts of Manchester visible.

On this day the whole plain was filled with low cloud, which appeared as a sea of mist stretching to the horizon. I was then lucky to capture images as the sun set across this superb and unusual panorama.

Great British Life: Goyt Valley from Cats Tor Photo: Gary WallisGoyt Valley from Cats Tor Photo: Gary Wallis

Goyt Valley from Cats Tor

The view east from Cats Tor was equally impressive, with the mist creeping and cascading across the landscape.

Great British Life: Ladybower Reservoir Photo: Gary WallisLadybower Reservoir Photo: Gary Wallis

Ladybower Reservoir

This image was taken in June following a major thunderstorm in the Peak Park. Towards sunset the storm cleared and the clouds began to lift. The moisture in the air in the form of mist was clinging to the valleys and created a really atmospheric evening.

Great British Life: Middleton Top Photo: Gary WallisMiddleton Top Photo: Gary Wallis

Middleton Top

Another evocative image of rolling mist that was taken in mid-December of the Engine House at Middleton Top.

Great British Life: Ramshaw Rocks Photo: Gary WallisRamshaw Rocks Photo: Gary Wallis

Ramshaw Rocks

This well-loved outcrop of rocks sits high above Leek and on the road eastwards to Buxton. This was taken when a vast bank of cloud was sitting to the west of the Peak Park and slowly lifting and breaking as it rose.

Great British Life: Rushup Edge Photo: Gary WallisRushup Edge Photo: Gary Wallis

Rushup Edge

Early morning mist from Rushup Edge and looking south to the area around Eldon Hill. Given it was around 5.30am my only companions on this memorable walk were sheep!

Great British Life: Shutlingsloe Photo: Gary WallisShutlingsloe Photo: Gary Wallis


Known as the ‘Matterhorn of Cheshire’ the conical peak of Shutlingsloe rises to 1,660ft (506m). I was again fortunate to capture this image of this unique hill in the Peak Park framed by a sea of low cloud in the background.

Great British Life: StarDisc, Stoney Wood, Wirksworth Photo: Gary WallisStarDisc, Stoney Wood, Wirksworth Photo: Gary Wallis

StarDisc, Stoney Wood, Wirksworth

Situated above the town of Wirksworth, this modern and illuminated stone circle was created by Aidan Shingler. On this day, the mist was lying low in all the Peak District valleys, but I was able to get above the cloud base for this memorable photograph.

Great British Life: Wardlow, North-West of Bakewell Photo: Gary WallisWardlow, North-West of Bakewell Photo: Gary Wallis

Wardlow, North-West of Bakewell

Rolling mist on a December day produces some atmospheric images of the village and fields around Wardlow in the White Peak.