Sue Lenthall’s passion for capturing the glory of rural Derbyshire life has seen her amass over 100,000 online followers from around the world – all from her base at cosy and quaint Wisteria Cottage.

Whether capturing a hazy morning skyline or a vivid sunset, for Sue Lenthall, photographing the beauty of countryside life is an emotive and poignant pastime which symbolises hope, joy and ultimately renewal.

Following the loss of her husband Pete in 2016, Sue found a source of comfort in nature and developed a talent for rousing landscape photography.

Great British Life: Wisteria Cottage brings Sue both joy and inspiration Photo: Sue LenthallWisteria Cottage brings Sue both joy and inspiration Photo: Sue Lenthall

‘Life events can push you into a change of direction whether you are wanting to or not,’ says Sue.

‘Through bereavement I started walking in rural locations and felt newly awakened, as if I was seeing things through fresh eyes.

‘It gave me a purpose. I felt at ease and found walking in the countryside, in all weather and seasons, helped process my grief. I’d take a little camera with me to capture the beautiful scenes and wildlife; it brought me some solace.’

Encouraged to pursue her emerging talent by friends and family, alongside the use of her phone, Sue invested in a high-definition camera and became self-taught in using it proficiently, which led to her developing an online presence to showcase her skills.

‘A friend told me about Instagram and I created @peaksonysue. Through social media I started to post my photos and took an active interest in photography.’

With a growing number of followers (10,000 and counting), Sue’s talent has enabled her to share her passion for living in Derbyshire, while capturing the beauty found throughout our region’s rich and varied villages and landscapes.

‘With its pretty villages, open moorland, dramatic rock formations and wildlife, the county offers such potential for photography,’ she suggests.

‘I love to visit locations including Winnats Pass, Chatsworth, Longshaw Estate and Baslow Edge; I’m extremely lucky these are on my doorstep and love to promote the county to an audience across the world.’

As well as capturing iconic Derbyshire images, Sue’s Instagram account has enabled her to meet a new community of people with a shared interest.

‘I have met some great like-minded people online,’ says Sue. ‘It’s great to be around other photographers because everyone’s interpretation of a scene and moment can be different, illustrated in people’s differing creative styles.

Great British Life: A wintry Monsal Dale Photo: Sue LenthallA wintry Monsal Dale Photo: Sue Lenthall

‘Sharing my photographs also gives me a sense of pride and joy, whilst the online community is so supportive and positive.’

As a result of the interest and encouragement from thousands of followers, Sue has successfully distributed cards and prints of her photographs at garden centres, shops and cafes around the county.

‘It’s very satisfying to have feedback from an audience who love my work,’ she acknowledges.

‘Some have even come to the Peak District to visit from overseas and bought the cards to frame. Others have said they feel they are sending a little piece of Derbyshire through the post when they send a card. It’s so rewarding to hear people say they recognised a photograph of mine because they know my style.’

Great British Life: Sunrise at Foolow Photo: Sue LenthallSunrise at Foolow Photo: Sue Lenthall

Spectacular sunrises are one of Sue’s signature designs, with colour, texture and cloud compositions being central to her images.

And this time of year, she believes, represents opportunities not to be missed.

‘If you have the opportunity to capture landscapes at sunrise, go for it!’ Sue says with enthusiasm.

‘The early morning wake up can be so rewarding. I love warmth, oranges, yellows, the shades of autumn – it offers that feel good factor.’

These serene early morning ventures, she adds, have also positively affected her mental health, creating long lasting memories in the process.

‘When I’m walking alone with my camera to a favourite location it feels so peaceful, as if I’m the only person around, it’s just magical,’ she describes.

‘One morning I witnessed a couple of stags swimming in the River Derwent. It was just outside Hathersage and it was such a frosty morning I could see their breath. It was incredibly beautiful; stags are so majestic and we are really lucky to have them in our moorlands and woodlands.’

Following a successful morning outing, Sue describes her excitement when reviewing her images.

‘It’s such a good feeling to know you have captured nature’s beauty. There’s something quite thrilling about returning home, lighting the wood burner in my cottage and downloading my images’ she says with a smile.

Wisteria Cottage is quite something. Located on the edge of the Peak District, and around 180 years old, it was built with Derbyshire stone and sits around three miles from Chatsworth.

This idyllic cottage has enhanced Sue’s photography portfolio and profile in its own right, with an incredible 100,000 people already following it online, as Sue explains.

‘I combined my love for interior design, photography and styling to up a new Instagram account -@talesfromwisteriacottage.

Great British Life: Sue Lenthall Photo: Sue LenthallSue Lenthall Photo: Sue Lenthall

‘This has created amazing opportunities, all with wonderful outcomes, including meeting Julian, my now partner of five years.’

One of the most exciting and inspiring experiences came at Chatsworth, moving for Sue, having spent so much time there during childhood.

‘I was invited to take photographs at Chatsworth House, gardens and farm,’ she recalls.

‘I felt so privileged to be invited and given the chance to photograph the exhibition of artwork, sculptures and creative pieces in the House before it opened to the public,’ she says. ‘It was very humbling.’

As a result of the immense popularity of her Wisteria Cottage images over the past four years, Sue has also been approached by numerous well-known brands to showcase their products, including Joules, Fairy Liquid and Biscuiteers, among others.

‘It’s been an amazing journey, Sue smiles. ‘I had no idea my country cottage decor and style would be so appealing!’

Great British Life: Sue's interiors evolve with the seasons Photo: Sue LenthallSue's interiors evolve with the seasons Photo: Sue Lenthall

One exciting collaboration arose when Sue was contacted by the BBC and invited to submit a film for Escape to the Country.

‘It was a short film I worked very hard on,’ she describes. ‘I filmed my favourite locations, mornings with stunning cloud inversions, and my cottage garden. Even my cats - Lord Thomas and Sir Tiger -made an appearance! They regularly the star attraction in my photographs,’ laughs Sue.

‘Lord Thomas, in particular, is quite a character. As soon as he sees the camera he poses! I sell lots of cards featuring them both and would love to write some children’s stories about them and what they get up to within the nooks and crannies of the cottage.

‘They arrived after their owner had died and this strongly resonated with me, so I wanted to offer them a loving home.’

With enviable views over open countryside of fields and a paddock which the farmer uses when new lambs are born, the cottage is, Sue says, her dream home.

‘My location allows me to access beautiful locations,’ she says. ‘I can see hares playing in the fields from my windows and there are often ducks, pheasants and even the odd curlew visiting my garden.

Great British Life: A festive-looking Wisteria Cottage Photo: Sue LenthallA festive-looking Wisteria Cottage Photo: Sue Lenthall

‘When I moved in, the garden was well established but I have been able to add many flowers and design it into more of a cottage garden and it’s certainly to my taste.’

This charming exterior, as well as the surrounding countryside, has inspired Sue’s interior design ideas and her distinctive photography style.

‘As I have developed an eye for capturing a moment and something beautiful, I use the same thought process when styling the cottage,’ she reveals.

‘Bringing in nature and the outside seasons to the interior adds warmth and comfort – it’s quite effortless.’

Using a palette of seasonal colours such as pinks with rustic terracotta colours in autumn and rich colours including teal and reds at Christmas, Sue evolves the look of her interiors throughout the seasons.

‘The cottage photography feels similar to a diary and depicts each season. I change over cushions and throws as the autumn moves into winter and move to reds and deep plums which I mix with local products – I enjoy supporting local artisans.’

During the festive season, Sue combines candles and low lighting alongside rustic features such as bark, wood, berries and pine alongside cinnamon sticks and dried oranges tied with gingham ribbons to hang on trees.

‘For the Christmas table, I bring a little of the outside in – I love to have natural foliage with berries, ivy, pines and holly,’ she says.

‘Although I don’t have a big dining table, I improvise. As long as everyone is comfortable and enjoy being together making new memories, for me that’s all that matters.’

As well as showcasing her beautifully styled interior photography, ultimately, @talesfromwisteria was born with a view to offering escapism and to share posts of life’s joyful moments.

‘There are so many things I find beautiful and am grateful for - I want to share images of life’s moments I enjoy,’ she concludes.

‘It’s always lovely to receive positive feedback but the one thing that surprises me is when people say they find my images inspiring and that they leave them feeling uplifted and happy which, in turn, makes me feel that way too.’

Sue’s cards and prints are sold in local shops, cafes, garden centres and seasonal craft markets. Contact to order.