It’s a hard question, which is my best place for walking and photography. But after thirty years of walking and ten years of photography it’s a reasonable question. There’s not an easy answer but I’ll share my thoughts. Firstly, it varies depending on the weather and what I want to achieve.
There are parts of the Pyrenees where I may not get many photographs but where I love to walk. There are parts of the Peak District which are tame walking not worth much more than a day trip. But, with good light, you can get superb photographs. You come back at the end of your holiday or walk, with a different feeling. In the first case, the Pyrenees, you are refreshed and content with new experiences. After a day in the Peak District I might get more pleasure from a few good pictures.
The Lake District is, for the small size of the area, the most beautiful place I know. Much of Scotland is similar. I suspect the hills are geologically related because they are aesthetically alike. Snowdonia is craggier and rougher with cracked rock hillsides not so much the characteristic green slopes of, for example, Great Gable and Grasmoor.
Scotland is far bigger than the Lake District, enough for a lifetime of discovery. After a few years in the Lakes it becomes familiar. Which is not to say there’s no more to enjoy because the seasons and conditions are different, which is important for photography. Scotland is more challenging walking. When I climbed Ben Lui a few years ago the morning was reasonably settled. You begin with a ridge and a cold wind and snow shower approached and worried me. I judged the situation and decided I wasn’t prepared for it but if necessary, I could drop down to the corrie after an hour or two and not finish the route. I could see an easy way to do it and the map confirmed it was possible. I couldn’t see if it was a path as such but the terrain was easy.
The snow passed, I summited Ben Lui, and had a good walk of ten hours. I then hitched a ride in a lorry back to the camp site. The final section of road was miserable. “Ten hours,” the lorry driver said, “that’s too much.” On that day I agreed. I was beyond exhaustion and, passing through a Caledonian pine forest, I'd breathed deeply hoping the scent would give me energy. Like aromatherapy, I said to myself.
Walking photography is filled with memories. “I have seen...such things” is the famous speech at the end of the movie Bladerunner. I’ve not seen attack ships on fire in outer space but I’ve seen frightening storms, vast panoramas, and primal scenery a friend said was “like the beginning of the world.”
Photography captures it. In Scotland, climbing Ben Lui, I remember half sensing, half feeling, that I was in a different landscape. The area where the snow was coming from was bigger than any I’d seen in Britain and I didn’t know what might happen. It wasn’t the Lake District where even bad weather doesn’t bother me because I know the walking options and I’m familiar with the weather. It was Scotland which, on a good day, is one of the best walking areas you can find.