Mark Littlejohn reveals the charms of Great Intake, set in the southern fells of the Lake District
Great Intake is a comparatively small hill between Ambleside and Coniston, in the Lake District. It is probably best described as a subsidiary of Wetherlam, the most northerly of the Coniston Fells as it drops down towards Little Langdale. Access is fairly easy by car as far as Tilberthwaite. After that, it’s a green lane that runs to Little Langdale. This is suitable only for properly adapted 4×4 vehicles, and there are various rules governing full vehicular access. There is ample parking short of Tilberthwaite Cottages. You will then be faced with a gentle walk of less than a mile to get to the recommended viewpoint.
Walk towards Tilberthwaite Farm and then take the left fork at the farmyard. Follow this track for about 700m before taking the left fork as you reach the high point of the path. You have about another 350m to go at this point. Once over a stile you will come out on the level, lower shoulder of Great Intake itself. There are splendid views taking in the Langdale Pikes and over Little Langdale Tarn, towards Fairfield and the other eastern fells. Directly behind you are the old quarries and mines, which are fascinating in their own right. Take care when exploring these, as wet slate is slippery.
Time to visit
My favourite time of year for this location is winter mornings. First, it is quieter (although it is never especially busy on Great Intake); second, the sun rises at the perfect angle to provide low light over Little Langdale; third, first light on the Pikes, when they are covered with fresh snow, is a lovely sight.
I tend not to use too wide an angle for these shots. There would be a temptation to cram too much into the frame, and lose focus. I usually go between 35mm and 135mm. That way you can be more specific with the way you arrange your composition.
Shooting at first light will usually dictate that a tripod is a necessity, but I have been able to avoid using filters because I’m facing away from the sun. Be aware, though, that if the upper slopes of your shot have fresh snow and the valleys are still clear, you will need to take care with your exposure. Behind you are a variety of quarries and mines, so if you are looking for items of interest you will have plenty to choose from.
Food and lodging
In this part of the world you are close to both Coniston and Ambleside, offering a variety of places to stay and with prices to suit most pockets. The Langdale at Elterwater has some beautiful accommodation in lovely surroundings.
One of my favourite cafes is The Apple Pie in Ambleside. Its American breakfast is a lovely reward to yourself after a good early-morning wander. The Britannia Inn at Elterwater is nearby and is a favourite pub of mine. The food’s good and the landlord keeps a very nice pint of Coniston Bluebird bitter.
I strongly recommend a good pair of walking boots for exploring the Lakes. They will provide support and grip, and keep your feet warm and dry. I use Scarpa boots because they suit my feet perfectly and in any case, I am a fan of leather boots.
Early morning shooting means lower shutter speeds. A tripod is a necessity. When walking, I take a lightweight model that won’t tire me out over longer distances.
You may only be enjoying a short walk along a clearly defined path, but I would always recommend taking the OS map for the area. It might be that you will want to explore a bit farther afield. Don’t be without a map when walking in this area.
Mark Littlejohn is happiest wandering in the Eden Valley or around Ullswater in Cumbria, waiting to capture that next moment. Visit markljphotography.co.uk.