Family-Friendly Activities In The Peak District

Landscape Photography Courses In The Peak District

Landscape Photography Courses In The Peak District
By Rosie Bellwood

With a variety of landscapes that shift dramatically with the seasons, the Peak District is a great place to hone your photography skills.

Many beauty spots can be accessed by bike, hike or car and cafes are scattered across the district to pause and refresh your creativity.

If you aren’t confident in your photography skills or would like to learn new techniques, operators across the Peak District offer various courses and experience days. Photography courses typically include a guide to offer technical advice with flexible itineraries dependent on your subject preferences or to incorporate an appropriate amount of walking to suit you.

There are more specialist courses available including mountain hare, smartphone and rock climbing photography as well as operators offering flexibility to customise a course to suit your desired subject.

England Peak District Heather at Winyards Nick with Over Owler Tor

Heather at Winyards Nick

Photography courses & locations in the Peak District

Rivers, valleys & dales

The Peak District is criss-crossed with rivers and streams tumbling off the hills into the valleys, with some great landscape photography opportunities.

Padley Gorge next to Grindleford Station is a popular spot with small waterfalls, woodland, bridges and old millstones to photograph. It is also a great place for families to relax, picnic and paddle, so it can get busy on nice days.

The tramp across fields and along the River Dane to Three Shires Head from Gradbach Car Park is a bit of a hike, but well worth the effort. It’s a great place for a paddle as well as being a good photo opportunity. The river bubbles over small falls and rocks, with the old packhorse bridges crossing the river to set the authentic, quaint, countryside scene.

Further east, Lumsdale on the edge of Matlock offers an atmospheric gorge walk. The short, but thrilling, footpath passes by ruined mills and waterfalls to an idyllic mill pond.

If you’re up for a challenge, Blackden Brook waterfall on the north side of Kinder Scout and Issue Clough waterfall near Black Hill trig point are bigger waterfalls and, as they are more secluded, they tend to be quieter.

To capture the Midlands’ industrial past, the Monsal Head viaduct over the River Wye is a popular spot for photographers, with walks around the area giving impressive views of the structure as well as the opportunity to walk along the river to photograph it from below, or take the Monsal Trail cycling route for views across the valley.

Reservoirs

There are plenty of reservoirs across the Peak District, and each one has its merits for photography. If you’re looking for people-free shots, you’d do well to avoid Damflask, Tittesworth and Ladybower as they attract crowds when the weather is nice, although Damflask is the most accessible for wheelchairs and buggies with a well defined, gravel path.

Dale Dyke is a lesser known walking spot, with uneven paths around its edge. In April to May, it is covered with bluebells making for some great landscape photography, just be careful not to tread on any of the delicate flowers.

Derwent has an impressive dam wall that overflows between two turrets into the trough below when the water is high. When the water is very low, a rare event that on average only occurs once a decade, the remains of the flooded Derwent Village are revealed.

Head up to Boot’s Folly, a small tower perched on a hill overlooking Strines Reservoir, for views across the valley as well as the added intrigue of the tower. Allegedly built by Charles Boot to provide work for his underemployed workmen, it now makes a good subject for photographers, but it’s not advised to venture inside as birds and farm animals regularly use it for shelter.

Peaks and edges

There is an abundance of hills and edges to climb in the Peak District, with some of the most popular being Stanage, Millstone, Baslow and Bamford which offer landscape photographers wide stretching areas of horizon to photograph. Bamford especially has great views over Ladybower and Derwent Valley.

Derwent Edge has some interesting features to photograph including the Salt Cellar and the Wheel Stones, with a relatively easy walk along a trail from the Ladybower Inn. Head up to Winestone Lee Tor to get views of both strands of Ladybower Reservoir.

Visiting the Peak District's edges and hills is particularly spectacular at sunrise or sunset, just watch your step while navigating uneven paths when the light is low.

Another interesting formation is Lud’s Church in Black Forest. It is an 18 metre chasm caused by a gritstone landslip, over 100 metres long and narrow in parts making for some effective landscape photography.

Moorland

The northern Peak District is characterised by its dramatic, often impressively bleak, moorland. Burbage and the Eastern Moors near Sheffield are good spots for landscape photographers with trails running throughout the area as well as having easy access from local car parks.

August to September is the perfect time to capture the purple heather in bloom across the moorlands. Head up to Owler Tor or follow the Pennine Way to capture the heather in all its glory, providing great landscape opportunities as well as backdrop for other work. Tread carefully though to avoid damaging the plants.

Red Grouse Stanage Edge Peak District

Red grouse at Stanage Edge

Wildlife

The variable landscapes offer habitats for all manner of wildlife which can be a challenge to track and photograph for novices. Guided photography courses organise experience days to locate or photograph wildlife and can be a fun activity while learning more technical tracking skills.

As well as the standard sheep and cattle, highland cows can also be photographed, most notably at Baslow Edge where they graze on the moors. There are also alpacas, with a couple of farms across the Peak District which are a great place to visit with children. Check out Stoop Farm near Buxton where you can walk with alpacas.

A large herd of red deer roam Longshaw and the moors around Sheffield, their impressive antlers making for great wildlife photography. There are also some farmed herds of fallow deer at estates across the Peak District including Chatsworth and Wentworth.

In winter, head to the higher points of the Peak District – Bleaklow and Kinder – in the Dark Peak to photograph mountain hares. They move quickly though and can be a challenge to spot, but ‘experience days’ are available to help you locate and photograph these creatures.

Villages & country life

You don’t have to travel far in the Peak District to come across a picturesque stone village. Towns like Bakewell and Castleton tend to be busier, however Castleton’s narrow cobbled streets, river and the addition of the ruins of Peveril Castle make it a worthwhile photo spot.

Stoney Middleton is also an interesting spot to photograph, with the traditional stone buildings as well as the octagonal St Martin’s church and the nearby Coombs Dale conservation area.

Don’t miss Eyam, known for its devastating outbreak of plague. A beautiful path follows a ridge through flower meadows between Stoney Middleton and the so-called Plague Village. Look out for the boundary stone where medicine and food was left for the isolated Eyam residents.

Prehistoric Peaks

The Peak District is dotted with mysterious stone circles and burial sites. Head for Arbor Low, Minninglow, Nine Ladies Stone Circle on Stanton Moor or Nine Stones Close (only four standing stones now visible) near Robin Hood’s Stride.

Our ancestors had an uncanny knack of sussing out the highest and most picturesque locations in Derbyshire. With a dramatic sunrise or sunset backlighting the ancient sites, you are on to a winner as a photographer.

Industrial heritage

Between Derby and Belper, the Lower Derwent pays homage to the father of the modern factory system, Richard Arkwright. These formidable water mills and factories with their great chimney stacks provide the photographer with material for dramatic shots. Other mills inside the park include Calver, Litton and Cressbrook - the latter known for their dark history of child abuse.

Going further back in time, the even older heritage of the mining industry adds interest to the Peak District landscape: abandoned millstones, kilns, railroad equipment and engine houses. Check out Magpie Mine for atmospheric images.

Need to know

Popular areas in the Peak District can be busy on sunny days, so get there early to get some shots with less people in, or visit on more variable weather days to get some interesting photos of the district's darker atmosphere.

Experienced photographers know the best images are obtained in the ‘golden hour’ after sunrise and before sunset.

Landscape Photography Courses In The Peak District

Rosie Bellwood

Rosie is a writer from Sheffield who has spent the last couple of years pottering about Europe, Southeast Asia and New Zealand, writing screenplays and blogging about her favourite films.

Landscape Photography Courses In The Peak District

Helen Moat

Helen Moat is author of Bradt Guides' Slow Travel The Peak District. She is also a regular contributor for Wanderlust, Derbyshire Life, BBC Countryfile, among others. Now settled in the Peak District, she is constantly inspired by the landscape and the people and places shaped by the Peak.

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