Sharp Edge Sunrise.

It’s been a while since I’ve done a wild camp, something I have missed. In defence I have tried every month since Feb but luck has been against me. However, a spare weekend saw me heading off up to the Lakes to wild camp up Blencathra after much debating where to go. ┬áThere are so many hills in the Lakes, so it often can be hard to choose but looking at the sunrise locations this hill I had on my list for a while was the chosen one. I also thought it’d be good, given it’s media attention recently due to the sale of the land it’d be good to go up now to promote the use of the land we all enjoy.

I set off from home and arrived at Scales about 1pm, given the sunset wasn’t until about 8:30 it wasn’t ever going to be a rush. Temperature was hovering around 23c, so not nippy by any standard. I set off slowly, knowing a rough route although the only time I had been up before was from a different way, but the aim was to get to Scales Tarn. Walking in heat is always difficult but I didn’t do too bad and decided to take a break at Scales Tarn before deciding which way I would go up, either via Sharp Edge or the flanks of Scales Fell.

I’ve done Sharp Edge before and in truth there was no reason to do it, but I haven’t done an edge walk for a while and after psyching myself up I decided I’d give it a go after doing it previously a few years ago and not struggling. However, I had always said I wouldn’t do an edge walk by myself or do a edge walk with a wild camping bag, so for whatever reason I decided I’d go against all that and do both at once!

I started the steep walk up and took the low level path round the side to avoid as much of the edge as possible and started climbing once the path had run out and I was near “the bad step”. It soon got apparent however once climbing I wasn’t going to make it. With a combination of a fear of heights and also my wild camping back trying to take me with gravity down the mountainside I decided it wouldn’t be a good idea, especially as I was alone. So after a tricky downclimb back to the path I headed back down to the tarn, looked back depressed at the height I lost and headed up via Scales Fell. Upon reaching the summit of Blencathra I was pleased though as it had only taken 2 and a half hours, which I thought was good going given the wait at Scales Tarn and the detour of Sharp Edge.

It was windy up at the summit and any feeling of warmth was soon lost, I hung around a bit in no rush and sat down to read my book. I think passers by would have been wondering what I was doing. I then headed over to Foule Crag which is the top point of Sharp Edge and had a look for a pitch spot. There was plenty of grass it was just picking a bit without a slope which I eventually found. I try to pitch as late as possible but it was getting nippy sat about and no one passed me where I was so decided to pitch a little earlier than usual.

I had taken with me the Terra Nova Ultra Quasar, it was its first use but I was really looking forward to it. A fully geodesic tent with lots of room inside. It meant I could pitch anywhere and not worry about wind during the night and also have enough room for me and all my gear. Have to say it was fantastic (especially at the price I paid!) and was nice and warm inside. I took a wind speed reading at one point, only got to about 10mph which surprised me but it must have picked up during the night as one of the guy ropes came out of the ground.

Here is a picture of the tent pitched:

Blencathra Wild Camp - Terra Nova Ultra Quasar - Lake District Landscape Photography

Blencathra Wild Camp – Terra Nova Ultra Quasar – Lake District Landscape Photography

Next I had a walk around for sunset, the light had got really hazy and the cloud had started to build up, so none of that nice strong directional side light I usually work with, but it did bring out some nice textures in the grassy slopes of the distant hills:

Looking Across Lakeland - Lake District Landscape Photography

Looking Across Lakeland – Lake District Landscape Photography

I retired to my tent about a half hour before the sun was actually due behind the horizon after it vanished behind a big bank of cloud never to return and read my book, ate some sweets and called my girlfriend and settled for sleep around 10pm. I woke up at 12, hoping to do some night shots but there was a lot of cloud cover. However, looking out of my tent I could see the moon rising just above the horizon. I had never seen anything like it, it was as red as a setting sun and large. Something very ethereal about it. I knew ultimately I couldn’t get a great shot so I didn’t bother but it was so surreal to look at I had to re-focus around 4 times just to be sure in my sleepy state!

Soon came around 4am, I had set my alarm early just in case with a sunrise due at 04:50. I poked my head out and could see quite a bit of cloud cover and thought to get up earlier than usual “just in case”. I walked over to Sharp Edge and dropped as far as I dared down the edge where it allowed me to place my tripod to get a dramatic view. I waited around and could see I was in the absolute right place. Despite all my indecisions on location I could see most of the Lakes including the summits of Skiddaw, Helvellyn and High Street were all capped in cloud, Blencathra had just escaped it. Waiting around I soon started to see colour developing in the clouds and before I knew it there was a sky that was on fire. I did quite a few shots including panoramics and normal ratio shots. At 8 seconds exposure per shot the panoramics took some time.

Click the panoramic to view it larger:

Sharp Edge Sunrise

Sharp Edge Sunrise - Lake District Landscape Photography

Sharp Edge Sunrise – Lake District Landscape Photography

Blencathra Sharp Edge Panoramic - Lake District Landscape Photography

Blencathra Sharp Edge Panoramic – Lake District Landscape Photography


It turned out to be a good idea to be up early, that colour soon faded and there was no direct lighting but who need it with a sky like that. Soon the cloud started to drift by my height and I retired to the tent for a little more sleep, when I woke up I had visibility less than 50ft so packed up and made the slog back down to the car for a well earned breakfast!

You can see more about Blencathra here