There is something special about spending the night on an island, particularly when you have got there under your own steam and are sleeping under canvas. So even though the night had been broken by low-flying military aircraft and I was woken early by two very vocal redshank, it was still a pleasure to look out over a mirror-calm lake onto a world disturbed only by wildfowl.
Sunrise had happened behind a blanket of cloud, but a hazy mist lay over the water and the mercury surface of the water offered perfect reflections. Even before getting the kettle on, I had reached for my camera and made a few images along the shoreline.
Now with hot tea in hand, I sat to enjoy breakfast before breaking camp and loading the canoe. Although the sky was overcast, the soft light and perfect reflections promised a special day on the water, and I was keen to set off, even without the 9am deadline to buy a new car park ticket back at Kettlewell. I had plenty of time in hand, so set of north first, passing Rampsholme and Lord’s islands on the way to Strandshag Bay.
The geese were beginning to head inland to start grazing on the shore.
I was in less of a hurry though, slowing right down to enjoy the still waters and avoid ripples spoiling the reflections. E
arly morning starts don’t come much better than this…
From Strandshag Bay, I turned southwards along the eastern shore. There was no traffic on the road to disturb the silence, and as I passed Calfclose Bay, just a couple of dog walkers on the shore. A pair of swans flew over my head before turning south themselves.
I dawdled along the shore, looking for details and reflections to make the most of the conditions photographically, stopping to chat to a group of shore-bound photographers who were on a workshop.
Even with such slow progress, I still arrived at Kettlewell car park in good time to renew my parking ticket. I debated stopping for an early teabreak there, but with such light winds set to increase through the day, decided to make the most of things and headed on towards the Upper Derwent. Today, without the headwind of yesterday, I’d try to get further upstream.
Passing by the Mary Mount hotel and jetty, I paused to make some images, enjoying the warm tones of the reeds reflected in the water.
The haze of the early morning still hadn’t gone, giving gentle blue tones to the hills of Borrowdale as I entered the Upper Derwent river. The lake steamers had started now, and even though they hadn’t made it to this end of the lake yet, a small swell from their wakes moved ahead of them, marring the reflections.
Passing Lodore, I was kept company by a male red-breasted merganser. I stopped again by the sand martin colony, and this time was lucky enough to get close to a pair perching near their nest hole. I didn’t linger though, to avoid disturbing them too much.
I caught up with the merganser again above the bridge, but this time he decided to head off without me.
Travelling upstream against a gentle flow, I enjoyed the reflections of riverside trees in the water.
Eventually, having pushed through a few faster shallow sections, I reached a small drop at Ingshead Hole. It would have been easy to line passed it, but I decided that this was my turning point, and after a leg stretch on the shingle bank set off back downstream.
The trees were only just coming into leaf, but the gorse was already blooming. In places there were still signs of the force of the winter floods, and fallen tree lying in mid-stream having been torn out by the roots.
Below the Lodore footbridge, I decided to stop by the reed beds. Each time I had paddled by the air was alive with the song of reed warblers, but I hadn’t actually seen one. So I pulled in to the bank, and set off on what I thought would be a fruitless warbler hunt.
After half an hour, I had worked out roughly where their singing posts were- typically all on the far side of the reed beds to me!. Two of them were having a territorial dispute nearby, so while they were distracted, I made my way closer, and finally caught one on camera. Again, I’ve cropped in quite heavily, but I was pleased to track one down.
Having been on the water now for several hours, I wanted to have a lunch break before returning to the car and heading home. Coonditions remained still and hazy, so I decided to return to Myrtle Bay and put ashore there. As I re-entered the lake, I paused to enjoy the reflections of the birch trees in their fresh Spring foliage, before transiting to Myrtle Bay. I made on last image of the Borrowdale skyline reflected in the waters of Derwent Water on the way
Entering Myrtle Bay, I was delighted with the quality of light and colour on display. I stopped again to make an image of the shoreline reflections, and then a drowsing mallard drake, before landing.
Once ashore, I set up my water filter again, and while lunch heated up, explored the immediate area. The backlit foliage at the head of the beach glowed with colour, tempting me into an image.
A leisurely lunch followed, with my canoe attracting some attention from passing walkers. One or two inspected it like a museum exhibit, without saying a word to me as I sat nearby, but one retired gentleman in particular will soon be afloat in his own boat judging from our discussion of seated versus kneeling paddling, and the pros and cons of different hull materials.
The wind was getting up again, and had blown the morning haze away. Mindful of my journey home, I packed up, made one last image from the shore, and cut across the lake to Kettlewell and the car. I’d had two great days on the water.