Bulging At The Seams....

As I write this, it is some 22 degrees outside and we have enjoyed a fantastic bank holiday of glorious weather.

Not being a pessimist but it won’t last. We all know that. In fact, the forecast for the next two weeks is pants!

Another false dawn…...however as much as I love the sun on my aching bones, it doesn’t always allow ‘us’ as photographers to get the drama in shots that we love. Well that’s what I think. I really don’t go seeking blue skies for my images. I prefer atmospheric or grim. On a positive note, It does allow ‘us’ to go searching in different locations and along with Vicki Procter I did just that. More of that later.

Whilst it is good when it is here, the sun that is, there are problems. Especially if you find yourselves locked in with the crowds who flock to our National Parks.

I am not a killjoy, far from it and I know that we have to do something on these days off with our families and friends but it would appear that the park’s cannot cope with the influx. It can be difficult enough at weekends but when the ‘currant bun’ appears, feeling the warmth on our backs and factoring in a Bank Holiday, they really do become stretched.

From a personal perspective, I never venture into the NP’s during the ‘holidays’ due to the footfall. Simply moving around becomes difficult and the enjoyment is curtailed. I know many of you share that feeling.

A good friend of mine sent me an image of the roads leading up to Wasdale Head. I was appalled but not surprised. I am informed that it was taking people over an hour and a half simply to drive from Nether Wasdale to Wasdale Head. Normally its a 15 minute run. The traffic was severe but what really struck home was the lack of consideration by those who simply dumped their cars by the roadside. I can imagine and envisage the frustration people must have felt when they arrived and thinking, ”well we are here now” but what do you do after you have driven for hours and you confronted by the carnage? Good manners says you don’t ‘abandon’ your car thats for sure. The lemming factor then kicks in and as one has done it etc….

Me? I couldn’t behave like that by ‘dumping’ the car and making off. Whilst it is not just bad manners it could have been life threatening as the Mountain Rescue and other emergency services may have been called upon to make their way down the roads. That aside and I don’t mean that cheaply, I wouldn’t go into those areas because I like the mountains etc to be peaceful. Again that is not being a killjoy or anti social but I derive my pleasure out of the naturalness and the tranquility of the locations. I wouldn’t feel the same with people crawling all over each foot of available space and watching as they are diving off the island at Wast Water, their radios playing and the general cacophony of people thronged along the shoreline. I have seen it and it is not for me. Thats what i expect on a beach NOT deep into a National Park.

If anyone I knew said they were going into the NP’s during great weather or bank holidays, I would advise them to give the ‘Honey Pots’ a miss as there are many, many glorious places that they can visit. It might not have a cafe or ice cream van though……..Am I being too harsh? I actually don’t think so.

On the plus side, yes there is one, it is fantastic that people want to visit but I do think they either aren’t aware of a code of behaviour towards the countryside/landscape or they don’t care. I have come across both.

As for the piles of rubbish they leave behind…..

I know it isn’t everyone who behaves like this but sadly more than ought to do.

Is this what the UNESCO World Heritage site now means to people? those who want to come because it has that badge of honour? Of course not, well I hope not. It is awarded because of its importance on many fronts but we cant and wont stop people coming because all the parks rely on the influx and commerce.

When the status was given, I recall the powers that be talking about a balance and managing the situation. I fully understand the meaning and implementation of the UNESCO award but the parks find themselves unable to cope. The infrastructure was already stretched but factor in decent weather and ‘they’ begin to bulge at the seams. My ‘informers’ on Twitter, told me that routes to the lakes were extremely slow and so upon arrival, people found the car parks were full to capacity. It became a free for all.

My friends in Snowdonia relayed exactly the same message and one even put a plea out on social media of, ‘Please don’t come. Wales is full!’

It is a balance of course because the money that floods in is needed but how do you ‘welcome’ the visitors and give them a proper experience when the place is at capacity and their enjoyment is spoiled? It is a difficult one. You want them to come and have a good time but how can sitting in the car for hours on end be classed as fun? Thats not the experience they are seeking and that will put many off venturing out to them again. I know that as a fact because I have listened to people who have decided not to go again and berated the park because of it.

I tell them to make the journey outside of holiday time and weekends but some wont or can’t due to work commitments. I get the latter but once bitten should not be twice shy. they are missing out on the beauty of what our lands have to offer. Surely thats why we want to go in the first place? To see them and NOT the back of another car…..

Anyone mention carbon footprint….

I personally don’t have the definitive answer to all of this. I merely commentate in frustration on what I see and hear.

Monitoring would/could help with the possibility of park and ride schemes implemented but I am told that was muted years ago and never progressed as it was seen as untenable. There are excellent bus services but most travel in their own car and wont give it up. I understand that to a degree but now we must be approaching a time when it has to be considered again. It works in towns and cities so why not there? I know they have a no driving scheme in some areas of the Peak District. You park and then walk in. It works.

Like the times we have snow that ‘paralyses’ us, I have no doubts that some will say, “yes but it is only for a few days of the year.” I can see that but the damage that an excessive footfall can do in a short period of time can take a long time to heal. thats if they can park the car first then actually get out on the fells…. Oh and don’t get me started on the dogs that are simply let out of the car after a journey with the owners having no thought for the farmer and his livestock. I have seen that countless times. I have been shouted at for pointing it out and threatened by the dog owners. Also many seem to forget the fact that we are roaming on and in the farmers working environment. On top of all that we have the badly dressed and ill prepared who underestimate the landscape and venturing off on high.

I could go on but my rant/comment is over for now. I need to sit in the sunshine. In my back garden….

Other than all that, I have been writing, processing and keeping busy with my ‘normal’ stuff.

Father and Daughter looking towards Skiddaw.

Father and Daughter looking towards Skiddaw.

It was a pleasure to meet Roger and Emily over in Newlands last week, spending a very pleasant day around Manesty running their joint workshop. The weather was glorious but we had to change one location I was going to take them to because a group of around 10 had driven cars onto land that specifically said ‘no vehicles’ and were causing a real disturbance in the River Derwent. Foul language and lighting fires. Did I say the rant was over…..in effect they caused many people to change their plans. You would not have argued with them.

Rant over. I think….


I have always enjoyed being commissioned by LANDSCAPE magazine and an article I was asked to photograph for them regarding Askham Hall Cafe is now out in the May issue. I hope you manage to see it. was a pleasure to shoot for them and the staff at the cafe were exemplary.

Because we have enjoyed such a good run of sunshine, I wanted to do something a little different, so Vicki and I went over to Tilberthwaite and worked in the quarries. I have taken images before at Hodge Close and Dinorwic in Snowdonia but I found this more intriguing. I became completely immersed in the surroundings and the afternoon flew by. It may have been a hot sunny one but I couldn’t get enough of the place.

Vicki photographing the slate

Vicki photographing the slate

We actually began our day exploring over by Kelly Hall Tarn, a wondrous little place not far from the road at Torver, then a quick lunch in Coniston followed by the afternoon in the quarry.

Kelly Hall Tarn copyright@markgilligan

Kelly Hall Tarn copyright@markgilligan

The results will be up in my gallery soon.

The week was capped off by another of our PHOTOWALKS and we were joined by a group of photographers that seem to have become ‘our regulars’ now. It was supplemented by a few old acquaintances and one or two new ones. A real pleasure of a day as we walked along side the Esk to Lingcove Bridge.

Several of ‘the group’ walking down by the Esk.

Several of ‘the group’ walking down by the Esk.

Great craic, people and some decent shots gathered.

Looking forward to the next one on 2nd June in Snowdonia.

I have been criss crossing the country giving lectures to photographic clubs since last September and my last talk of the season is coming up in Preston on May 2nd and then I am full on with workshops and articles.

Enjoy the sunshine!