Another Wild Camp – Haystacks Horseshoe

With little notice I found myself with some free time and a good weather forecast. It had been some time since I last ventured outdoors with my tent & camera and this is how I would use my bounty of free time. As the day was already getting on I had no time to plan anything concrete, so I grabbed a map of my chosen area, my camping kit and camera.

Open Space Web-Map builder Code

I arrived at Buttermere and the weather was looking good. I have never previously walked the Haystacks Horseshoe, however I have heard great things. I decided this would be my route as it would be scenic, with ample opportunity for photography, it was remote enough to escape any late evening strollers and should offer plenty of camping spots.

Water Filter
Water Filter

My latest device to help lighten the load is a mini water filter. It is an ingenious piece of kit and can help save many kilos of weight providing you know there is a water source en-route. It also comes in handy as a backup in case all your water is used up. You can get them here.

After a very scenic and pleasant walk I reached Warnscale Bothy. I had seen images of this bothy before & I knew there was a chance I would stumble upon it, however I had no idea of it’s exact location.

It is very easy to miss as it is camouflaged perfectly with its surroundings. The bothy was occupied, however I had no plans of sleeping in there. It was a photograph I was looking for.

Canon 5D MK III | Zeiss Distagon 21mm | f11 | 1/40 Sec | ISO 100
Canon 5D MK III | Zeiss Distagon 21mm | f11 | 1/40 Sec | ISO 100

I chose not to use any filters in this image, which is rare for me, however I have my reasons; The light was dropping fast and to spend 5 minutes applying filters would have compromised the shot. Because the sun was still high in the sky, the clouds were very bright so the use of a graduated filter would have cast a dark line across the hilly horizon. A polarizer would have been the filter of choice in a situation like this, however because I was using a 21mm lens, the polarizer would have only polarized a small portion of the sky, leaving an unsightly dark blob in the middle.

As I approached the mid-point of the horseshoe walk, a campsite was needed. I like to set up with enough time to shoot a sunset image, that way I am not trying to pitch my tent in the dark. The campsite I had chosen was perfect. It was away from the main trail, flat, sheltered, dry and offered the most stunning view of the Buttermere Valley.

Canon 5D MK III | 24-70L Lens | f8 | 0.6 Sec | ISO 100 | Nisi NDH 0.6 | Polarizer
Canon 5D MK III | 24-70L Lens | f8 | 0.6 Sec | ISO 100 | Nisi NDH 0.6 | Polarizer

I have to be honest and say that the sunset was a little disappointing and I am not feeling a great deal of love for this image, but that didn’t matter because I had something else on my mind.

Earlier I noticed how the cloud formations were engulfing Great Gable, however there was not light and not enough interest to make a good shot. This was a terrible shame, because the sight its self was amazing. As the sun dropped, a lovely pink light painted the sky to the east and this was exactly the interest I needed. I decided to head back to Great Gable and try again.

Canon 5D MK III | Canon 70-200L Lens | f8 | 15 Sec | ISO 100 | Nisi ND 0.9 | Polarizer
Canon 5D MK III | Canon 70-200L Lens | f8 | 15 Sec | ISO 100 | Nisi ND 0.9 | Polarizer

At first, the clouds seemed to have dispersed, however looking closer I could see it was just a short break. I wanted to capture the mood and the prowess of Great Gable, one of my favourite mountains. I used a long lens and composed the mountain only, choosing to exclude as much distraction as possible. I knew I had the makings of a strong image. I had a clear focal point; the mountain, I had the light and I had the movement of the mist and clouds, which offered great interest. It has to be said that this is one of my favourite images from recent photo shoots.

Canon 5D MK III | Zeiss Distagon 21mm | f8 | 20 Sec | ISO 100
Canon 5D MK III | Zeiss Distagon 21mm | f8 | 20 Sec | ISO 100

I slept very well and all anxieties of camping out on my own have gone. It’s like anything, once you do it a few times, you soon get used to it. I did have a very unnerving dream, which woke me in a cold sweat. It was one of those dreams that very much feels like you are not sleeping at all, but you’re only half asleep. I could hear voices around my tent. The voices were that of a group of lads staying in the nearby Bothy. They had trekked up to scare me, playing a practical joke, however it soon turned sister when they started to play out a high pitched radio frequency, which parallelised me. I woke with a start, breathless and sweating. What a terrible dream to have when alone in the wild. It only took me a few moments to rationalise everything and go back to sleep.

The following morning was a write off in terms of photography. The sky was grey and uninspiring and the rest of the walk down, completing the horseshoe was arduous and long, much longer than if I had reversed my ascent, however the scenery made up for that.

For more info check out my Kit Blog, but here is a summery of kit used:
Canon 5D MK III
Zeiss Distagon 21mm Lens
Canon 24-70L f2.8
Canon 70-200L f4 (None-IS)
Manfrotto 055CXPRO3
Garmin Fenix 3 (For navigation)
LowePro Filter Pouch
Lee Foundation Filter Holder
A Range of Nisi Filters
A Heliopan 105mm Polariser
A 105mm Attachment Ring for it to fit on to my Holder
HotShoe Bubble Level (Love this)
A Waterproof Camera Cover always comes in handy
As Does my Leatherman Skeletool
I Always Take a Head Torch

I Make my Videos Using the Kit Below:
Canon G7X
GoPro Hero 4 Silver
TimeLapse Head
GoPro 3 Way Mount
GoPro Jaws Clamp