Fairfield Horseshoe

These photographs were from a day out in December 2017, but this day still stands out as one of the most spectacular mountain walks I’ve ever been on. The day began in a rather gloomy Ambleside. It seemed like a typical wet miserable overcast Lake District day, but I’d picked to head to the hills that day because my favourite weather phenomenon was forecast: valley fog caused by a temperature inversion. Fog forms in the valleys overnight when the cold air sinks, but if you climb high enough you can get above the fog to where it can actually be quite pleasant and sunny.

The first indication that the forecast was correct was when I could see beams of sunlight streaming through the fog. I love how the shadows of the trees are accentuated by the fog.

Further up the hill I soon reached the point where I was climbing above the thick blanket of cloud. It was fascinating to watch because it didn’t just sit there, but it flowed like giant waves in slow motion. Every so often a big bank of cloud would roll it’s way along until it crashed into a hillside. The fog went as far as I could see in the distance, all the way down Windermere and out to sea, almost like the sea itself had turned into a big white foam and flowed over the land!

Here I’m looking over towards Loughrigg Fell. A hill I’m quite familiar with but it looked completely different today. I wondered what it might look like to be on each of the little islands that came into view, and I also wondered how many people had changed their minds and decided not to venture out upon seeing the overcast skies. What a shame to have missed out for anybody who made that choice!

I’m on my way back down by this point. It was hard not to stop every 5 minutes to take another photograph because it was so beautiful in every direction. Usually by the afternoon and even late morning all signs of valley fog have burned off by the heat of the sun, but not today. The fog stuck around all day until I plunged back into it late in the afternoon. The Fairfield Horseshoe is not the shortest of walks in the Lake District, but I felt as though I’d bounced around every step. What an amazing day!

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