Twenty years ago I was concentrating my Lake District activities on walking the higher fells whenever the opportunity presented itself. In recent years though, I've sought to find the quieter corners and to experience the parts that many visitors will probably never see.
For some time I've looked at Great Mell Fell as I've sped along the main road to Keswick and although I have been on every one of the surrounding tops, I'd not managed to visit this one. I always try to make an image on Xmas Day, and this last Xmas morning I had a very pleasant couple of hours poking around in the woods up and down the hill.
This image is a good reminder that whilst the busy walking shops in Keswick and Ambleside would have you believing that the Lake District is a playground for mountaineering adventures, the local folk do actually make a living off the land. It's all too easy to dash off up the hill, with one's flashy newly purchased high tech apparel and navigation equipment. It's not so easy, however, to remember that we city folk need to respect the fact that when we've finished our holidays, the local communities are still there working.
The wilder, higher, more rugged fells, with their rocky sides draw more outdoor enthusiasts because they offer a few hours of physical adventure. But these smaller hills present a more intimate perspective of the region's landscape. Little lanes weave and wind their way up and over the land, stone built farmsteads are scattered around where someone once laid claim to a patch of land. The patchwork of pastures with the green grass giving away the fact that many years ago they were cleared of stones and fertilised - some now neglected and almost overrun with rushes. Groups of trees, hedges and stone walls dividing the land and offering shelter. And to the artist's eye, a beautifully layered tapestry of harmonious colours and shapes.