Landscape Sketching, Sketching

Scenery Sketching in The Stunning Lake District

A weekend scenery sketching in the stunning lake district sounds idyllic, doesn’t it? It is. But keep your imagination in check and expectations realistic – unless you are one-half of the ‘Perfect Instagram Couple’.

Reality check

Watercolour sketch at the top of Helm Crag by Sophie Baxter
Close up of watercolour sketch at the top of Helm Crag in the Lake District.

 Have you come across social media pictures that show ‘What you think you look like when you run’ (strong, elegant, flowing) and ‘What you actually look like when you run’ (not so flattering)? I often find this gap in my life. Not just that I look uncool when I run (I do), but that my expectations tend to be far grander than reality.

Scenery Sketching - View from Braithwaite's campsite onto Skiddaw By Sophie Baxter
Looking onto Skiddaw from Braithwaite’s campsite in the Lake District. Sketch in pen, brush pen and watercolour.

So when we set off for a one night stay in the Lake District, my head filled with pictures of dramatic scenery. I enthusiastically packed two sketchbooks, watercolours and various pens and pencils. I imagined I would fill page after page with magical scenery sketching.

In fact, it rains a lot in the lake district, so the beautiful scenery can be hidden by low clouds. I was travelling with four other people (3 of which children) who have no interest in sketching. It was a one night trip.

So you might have guessed – I didn’t get as much sketching done as I had hoped for.

Quick scenery sketching

It was dull and foggy when we arrived. The views were limited. Some of the clouds lifted in the evening and I managed a quick sketch.

Lion and Lamb Sketch Top of Helm Crag - Lake District - Sophie Peanut
The Lion and Lamb at the top of Helm Crag. 15 minutes sketch in pen and watercolour.

The next day the sun came out and the landscape came to life. We went on a hike and I stopped for some scenery sketching at the top of Helm Crag while the rest of the family walked further along.

I managed two quick landscape sketches in my pocket Moleskine sketchbook (above and below).

While I was finishing my second sketch a couple that I can only describe as the ‘perfect Instagram couple’ came to peep over my shoulder. They chatted and looked at my sketches and left. Both were very tanned with toned bodies in designer sports clothing. They stopped and posed for selfies – a lot. The beautiful scenery seemed to be just another accessory to pose with for a cool photo.

Views from the top of Helm Crag Lake District UK - Sketch by Sophie Peanut
Views from the top of Helm Crag. 15 minutes sketch in pen and watercolour.

As I watched them disappear into the distance I wondered if they too had a super glossy picture of their lives in their minds. Was there a gap between their imagination’s musings and reality? Maybe they imagined everything messy and imperfect but whatever they did their lives turned out incredibly glamorous? Or was everything they did organised and edited so it would make a good picture?

My family was calling, so I packed my sketching kit and (gladly) went back to my messy unedited reality. All of a sudden glamour and perfection didn’t seem so attractive.

Scenery Sketching in The Lake District by Sophie Peanut


6 Comments to “Scenery Sketching in The Stunning Lake District”

  1. William Rhoades

    Thanks for the great sketches. I draw OK but then put on too much watercolor. I am looking at the Daniel Smith Primtek colors to calm things down.

  2. Claudia Feldman


    I am a urban sketcher in Paris. We would love visiting the Lake District with my family to paint and take walks. What city or village would you recommend to stay in.
    Any lodging you know?
    Are you planning yourself a urban sketching tour in the Lake District, when cove is no more a problem?

    1. Sophie Peanut Author

      You could try Keswick or Ambleside. I usually book a place to stay on Airbnb but can’t recommend any specific place. I will certainly go back when we are allowed out again!

  3. Christine Barnes

    Hi, I found this post when I googled ‘how to sketch Lake District landscapes quickly’. I smiled when I read of the ‘perfect Instagram couple’. I don’t post pictures of myself on IG but I do post my non professional sketches that I make of my surroundings. I live in the Peak District and draw inspiration from nature. At the moment I am on holiday in the Lake District and snatching time to sketch the landscapes. The results are woefully wanting but I posted them anyway and made a note to practice sketching big landscapes more (especially craggy ones). But my point is that I agree with you that I often start with a vision that I will be sketching and posting masterpieces for all to admire but in reality my sketches are a little raw and sometimes it is daunting to see other people’s perfect drawings labeled as ‘quick sketches’ when clearly it has taken much longer to achieve the perfection. My sketches are my emotional expression of what I see. I love the process of sitting quietly and noticing and feeling my surroundings, the peace I feel when drawing quietly. The results may not be perfect but they contain beautiful memories and continue to speak to me… and I think that is what I am sharing with the world and not necessarily ‘the perfect Instagram drawing’. Thank you for writing about this perfection v reality. It made me evaluate what I am actually about.


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