Drawing 174: Great End from Styhead Tarn
Direction of view: S
Notes: The viewpoint is close to the outflow from the tarn. A very difficult shot for the correct sunlight; maybe the last sunlight of a summer day. This view also appears on page 50 of Ex-Fellwanderer, page 63 of Memoirs of a Fellwanderer (both are slightly smaller reproductions of the original sketch), and page 64 of Wainwright in Lakeland.
Comments: I first took this picture on slide film on 13th January 1991. Peter Messenger and I were bound for a walk up Scafell Pike in full winter conditions (see 22). Described in my diary as “a day of cloudless sky and near-perfect visibility…The Scafell range across Styhead Tarn was the first really exciting prospect of the walk”.
Another photo was taken on slide film on 26th May 1992, a summer day on Great Gable with Peter Messenger: see drawing 161.
I first went for this sketch for the digital project on 5th November 2012 (see drawing 360). As I arrived at the tarn, the sun was sitting exactly on top of Great End, making a photograph impossible. I returned to the scene as the last twilight lit it, and got an atmospheric shot with perfect reflections (but oh for a tripod – even at 1600ASA I was limited to 1/30th of a second exposure). I went for the perfect reflection, rather than the foreground of grass (as per AW). The final photo was taken on 29th October 2017 – see 340 for an account of that day.
For me, one of Wainwright’s most evocative passages of prose is his description of Great End in The Southern Fells: “When mist wreathes the summit and clings like smoke in the gullies, when ravens soar above lonely crags, when snow lies deep and curtains of ice bejewel the gaunt cliffs, then Great End is indeed an impressive sight. Sunshine never mellows this grim scene but only adds harshness”.