Autumn is well and truly upon us here in the Lake District, and one of my favourite places to photograph the colours is Coniston Water.
Last year I took an autumnal tour of Coniston on board Steam Yacht Gondola to find some lovely photographic subjects, and a couple of weeks later returned to capture some pictures of Coniston Power Boat Records Week, which in 2017 is being held from 30 October until 3 November.
Anyone keen on power boats will already know about this event, but I was drawn to it myself because of the challenge of capturing speed! I rarely need to photograph things moving quickly – the only exceptions I can think of being at the Lake District’s hound trails, and the Tour of Britain, which I’ve covered on the blog in the past – so records week did quite appeal to me.
The Lake District has a fair amount of history when it comes to setting water speed records, and records week for many years was held on the nearby lake of Windermere. When, in 2005, a speed limit was placed on Windermere, the week successfully moved to Coniston Water – if it interests you, there’s lots more about the history of records week on its website.
Coniston, of course, has its own record-breaking past, and is famously the stretch of water upon which British speed record holder Donald Campbell sadly lost his life in January 1967.
One of the best places to head to, if you want to see what’s going on, is Coniston Pier by the Bluebird Café (I found they do a very welcome cup of takeaway tea too, or you can watch from the warmth of the café itself). This is where the boats launch, and you can see them travel for some distance along the lake to the south. Parking gets very busy in the public car park and neighbouring field, so it’s a little more leisurely to park in Coniston itself and walk down to the lakeside, which is what I found myself doing.
Only professional photographers are allowed onto the jetties, so you do have to stand on the beach, and the National Trust jetty gets in the way a bit! To be honest though, I left it far too late in the day to arrive, so by the time I did, the light was fading and I didn’t have the chance to play around and experiment with my shots as I would have liked. The colours this time of year make for a fabulous backdrop though!
There is something very addictive about watching and hearing the sound of the boats, and as the sun goes down you keep thinking, ‘I’ll just watch another one. Just one more, and then I’ll go!’ Back at the car park in Coniston itself, the sun was setting properly, and casting a beautiful pink over the hills – but the sound of the boats could still be heard speeding off into the distance…
For more information about records week, and to see what’s on when, visit the Coniston Power Boat Records Week website.
Have you been to see Coniston Power Boat Records Week in previous years? Have you any tips for how others can enjoy the week? If so, let us know by leaving a comment below.