A View, a Camera and You - Esk Valley


Award-winning photographer Mark Gilligan photographs the Esk Valley

I love walking through the Esk valley, in particular the route that takes you from Brotherilkeld Farm along to Lingcove Bridge.

Not a difficult walk but it affords you great views under the shadow of Scafell and the Pikes.

It doesn’t possess a lake or large body of water but its waterfalls and grand scenery unfurl as you amble towards its source. From a photographer’s perspective it offers many opportunities to capture its beauty.

Arriving by the Hard Knott pass can be daunting and in the holiday season it can be painfully slow. The easiest route is via Eskdale Green or Birker Fell then passing through the village of Boot. Follow the signs to Hard Knott and park sensibly near to the old red telephone box. You will see the signs for Brotherilkeld Farm. Go through the gate and head towards the farm buildings. Keep the river on your left and just keep walking!

This is working farmland (always be mindful of lambing season and adhere strictly to the signage) and soon after passing the buildings on your right you are out in wild terrain. It is glorious and displays myriad moods through out the seasons.

I estimate that most will take around an hour to get to the bridge but I bet you stop constantly to take photographs as the opportunities are endless. Continue upstream with Bowfell in the distance, passing several waterfalls that speed through small gorges and eventually Lingcove will appear.

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Legend has it that Sherpa Tensing went swimming around here when the Everest team was practicing before the ‘big event’ and he lost his teeth in the river. So, if you go paddling and stand on something with a bit of bite!My wife Irene and I usually make this a wastwater1‘butty’ stop and it is a great place to sit and take in all you see. Go and take a look at the magnificent Esk falls that are just a few hundred yards upstream. They too are spectacular and are well worth a few minutes of your time.

The river is usually very low, a few inches at best. It turns under the bridge to begin its ‘tumble’ down towards Ravenglass and if you want to venture in, then common sense always comes into play. I like to position myself low down in the water to capture the flow. It also means I can show as much of the feature as I can in its rightful setting. I have an utmost respect for the fells so take care as wet rocks can be lively. I pick my way carefully then stand and walk on the gravel. Much safer!

Before I decide to set up my kit, I like to walk around, camera in hand and find several locations that work. Always mindful of where the predominant light is and in this case it is behind me.

This photograph was taken mid afternoon. Simply shot, with a slightly slower shutter speed it shows the Pack Horse bridge in its natural setting.I would be interested to see the results of your efforts here so please feel free to email your pictures. I look forward to seeing them!

Let’s get technical

Camera: Canon 5dmk2Canon 17-40 L series lensF22 @ 0.8th sec,ISO 100Lee Mid soft Graduated FilterCable releaseGiottos Carbon Tripod

Lancashire Life freelance Mark Gilligan and TV personality and researcher from the ‘Wainwright Walks’ television series, David Powell Thompson, stage one day walks ‘A View, a Camera and You’ in the Lake District.

Full details can be found at www.wastwaterphotography.co.uk and on Twitter at @wastwater1