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Striding Edge, Helvellyn, on a Bank Holiday
© Gordon Stainforth, May 1989
Camera used: Hasselblad 500 CM
5*VOTING: number of votes 25
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I deliberately chose a Bank Holiday. I had recce'd the camera viewpoint the day before, then on the Saturday morning I was up there at about 10.30 am. There was not a soul to be seen. I waited and waited. Then, at about ten past eleven, they all arrived - an army of ants moving from right to left. It surpassed all my expections. This was taken about an hour later, by which time there were people going in both directions.
Gordon Stainforth - 15/Aug/06
This picture was published in my book 'Eyes to the Hills', and seems to be a one that many people talk about.
Gordon Stainforth - 15/Aug/06
'army of ants' is exactly what it is - and sums up helvellyn perfectly - i like it a lot
toast - 15/Aug/06
In the text of Eyes to the Hills, accompanying this picture, I say (perhaps a bit OTT!):
Once walking or climbing days are judged solely by their Munro-bagging or E-point productivity, they are reduced almost to the status of a job, to a repetitive routine that has been stripped of much of its meaning and adventure. More and more it is just a matter of another path to be followed, another well-worn script to be repeated. More and more the mountain day mimics, in a sort of grotesque ritual, the treadmill of everyday life, as a seemingly endless stream of walkers tramp along Striding Edge, or around such contrivances as the 'Buttermere Circuit' - which has the 'advantage' of providing more 'peaks' (protuberances) to be 'bagged', with only a little more effort.
(Perhaps a bit unfair. Shows I was as outspoken back in 1990 as I am now!)
Gordon Stainforth - 15/Aug/06
Great photo Gordon, which just underlines how busy our beloved Lakes are getting. Not wanting to share my rock with the army of ants I now make a positive choice to climb elsewhere on Bank Holidays and weekends. Thankfully there will always be those out of the way places that will be less popular with the ants.
snowcat - 16/Aug/06
Yes, so true. It's amazing how, with a bit of imagination, you can usually get away from the crowds completely, even on a BH.
Gordon Stainforth - 16/Aug/06
for some people who are starting out in the hills, the likes of Striding Edge are a big achievement. it's a bit mean of us more 'adventurous' types to be uncharitable. If they get a taste for the hills here, who knows where people will end up?
CJD - 27/Jan/07
Can't disagree with that at all, if it's a way in to climbing. But the vast majority of people who go on Striding Edge are not complete beginners. Many of them belong to that rather large category of hill-goers who are very competant up to about Grade I scrambling, but never apparently want to progress beyond that, or to discover rockclimbing, for example.
Striding Edge is quite good, as far as it goes (there are far better, e.g Crib Goch)
Gordon Stainforth - 27/Jan/07
but is that a bad thing? does everyone have to progress? is that not sufficient achievement for a lot of people? I agree that Crib Goch is (to my mind) more exposed and thus perhaps more interesting, but i still think that, crowds or no crowds, Striding Edge is still a pretty big deal for many people, and that even for them, it's more esoteric than the likes of the *very* obvious, like Snowdon for instance.
CJD - 27/Jan/07
No, it's not a bad thing at all, even quite a good thing. But my point is that it tantalisingly 'scratches at the edge' of much better things.
Gordon Stainforth - 28/Jan/07
Great photo Gordon!
Not aimmed at anyone but, re all the comments, it really upsets me when I hear the "too many people on my mountains" comments. Yes, the feeling of isolation when in the hills is amazing, but there is 60m of us sharing this small island so they've no less right to be there than anyone else. You want isolation, then do it at first light - it is even better then anyway.
The Bantam - 28/Jan/07
Shame about the bars between each photo - I assume it's stitched together, maybe use some software that merges the joins? Otherwise I like what you've captured.
Fidget - 20/Jan/08
Yes, I stitched it together from scans made directly from my double page spread in Eyes to the Hills - simpler than scanning the transparency. Not very well done, and probably looks worse on a PC, with its slightly different gamma. May try to improve it some time.
Gordon Stainforth - 20/Jan/08
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This picture is copyright. If you want to reproduce or otherwise re-use it, please email the photographer direct via their user profile. Photo added August 15 2006.