The race for Stanage Edge

Some parts of the Peak District are well over an hours drive from where we live, even more so at rush hour. On a weekday, this makes getting to a location in time for sunset quite the challenge in its self. The weather forecast looked promising for Hathersage which is part of the Dark Peak, I had already packed my bag the previous night so no time was wasted doing that once I got home from work. I also had a big lunch so I could skip dinner in the evening. Within 5 minutes of getting home we were in the car and on the way to Stanage, the usual tea-time traffic was frustrating but not as bad as it had been on previous trips.

We arrived at the car park at about 7:30pm, neither of us had been to Stanage Edge before so we guessed our way to the spot we had marked out in the book. The ascent wasn't difficult but some parts were steep and involved a bit of a scramble, I don't think Tracy's ankle appreciated it. Stanage Edge is vast at 4 miles long, I was worried that we wouldn't be able to locate the viewpoint, set the camera up and take the shots we needed before the light faded. Once at the top Tracy took over navigation, I don't know what kind of magic she used but she found the viewpoint within 10 minutes, "brilliant!". What wasn't so brilliant was that from the top we could see that we had parked in the wrong place, there was a car park much closer to where we were; "oh well, that shouldn't be a problem".

Cloud was coming in from the North-West but there wasn't enough of it to cover the sun until sunset, this meant that we should have good light during the golden hour. It was pretty chilly at the summit, especially when standing around waiting for the sun. Suddenly, the sun peaked below the clouds and lit up the rock face. I started snapping, the amount of lens flare from shooting into the sun was unacceptable, I blocked it with my hand and took a separate exposure of the sky (these two images can be combined into one in post-processing later). This is the photograph that we came away with:

The cloud continued to roll in and quickly covered the sun entirely. I always remember some advice that landscape photographer Tony Worobiec gave me when shooting sunsets: "turn around". I did just that, the sky behind me was like a painting, a beautiful mixture of blue, orange and pink. I grabbed my gear, ran and started trying different compositions. I really didn't want to miss out on all of this colour but in my haste I couldn't quite get what I wanted. The pink sky complimented the purple moorland heather so wonderfully. I eventually found a solitary rock surrounded by the heather, I set the camera in portrait and took the shot. I've never had the opportunity to take a shot like that before but I was really happy with how it came out, it was unexpected but made my night.

By this time it was getting close to 9:30pm, as we were packing everything away a memory suddenly struck me... There was a sign on the car park that said it closed at 10pm and gets locked every night! The last thing we wanted was to get locked in and sleep in the car! I don't know what you call a mixture of a running and hobbling but that's what we did. It was by far the fastest descent of a location yet. We got back to the car within 20 minutes, very impressive all things considered.