Helvellyn and Ullswater
Helvellyn, Ullswater and Glenridding from Hare Shaw crag on the flanks of Place Fell.
Image Size : 840 x 280 mm
Print Size : 960 x 406 mm
The wonderful assemblage of ridges and secret corrie headwalls that lie beneath Helvellyn’s eastern flanks are probably one of the most extensive in the English Lake District. Eagle Ridge on Nethermost Pike and The Tongue on Dollywagon Pike complement superbly Helvellyn’s edges whilst the deep hollows of Cock Cove, Ruthwaite Cove, Nethermost Cove and Keppel Cove are equally impressive as those that cradle Red Tarn.
Helvellyn’s roots lie firmly in Patterdale and Glenridding - two delightful villages nestling beside the shores of the beautiful Ullswater. So, when I set out to capture a brand new image of Helvellyn, there was no doubt in my mind that the view should be the one which included Ullswater in favour of that from Thirlmere to the west. I was also very aware that my image had to depict the wonderful diversity and cross section of landscape that incorporates the waters of Ullswater, the fields of Glenridding and the broken hillsides rising ultimately to the corrie headwalls and craggy summits themselves.
Finding the right viewpoint took months of research; I wanted something original and not just another interpretaion of a well-known shot. I looked at numerous viewpoints, most were rejected because the huge bulk of Birkhouse Moor inevitably dominated the view at the expense of the main summits and many were too high or too distant to do justice to the splendour of Ullswater.
Silver Point and Crag on Ullswater’s eastern shore came close to what I was looking for but the elevation was not. However, having scoured the slopes of Place Fell that morning, a few hundred feet higher than Silver Point, above the broken crags of Hare Shaw, I finally found what I was seeking.
Satisfied that this issue was finally resolved, I just had to endure the frustrating processs of waiting for the conditions that I had in mind.
Those conditions finally arrived on a cold but beautiful morning in early March. For several days I had waited anxiously as showers driven along on a strong northerly wind deposited nearly a foot of snow on Helvellyn and its satellites. Finally the wind dropped overnight, and the following dawn revealed the mountains with fresh snow on the summits, clear skies and oustanding visibility.
Having left Patterdale at daybreak, I witnessed a beautiful alpenglow on Helvellyn as I slowly made my way upward. It was bitterly cold, but there was not a breathe of wind. From the tiny track that traverses the west flank of Place Fell towards Hare Shaw Crag I was blessed with expansive views across a calm and reflective Ullswater.
At around nine o’clock the sun finally lit up the trees on the nearby shores of Ullswater and the scene was complete. The rich blue depths of Ullswater provided the perfect foreground to the multitudinous vivid shades of green, yellow and ochre that coloured the fields and hillsides overlooking Glenridding and Patterdale.
The strong low morning light cast, alternately, bright highlight and dark shadow into the upper corries, picking out all the detail of ridge, buttress and gully. But, best of all, standing proudly and ethereally above all else and sparkingly white in alpine-like splendour, was Helvellyn.