Saturday 11 October 2014

Rainy Day Filming for the BMC

After the Rain

My last post on dealing with the wet and cold proved quite apposite just a few days later when I headed down to the Lake District to do some filming for the British Mountaineering Council as part of my role as the BMC Ambassador for Hillwalking (a rather grand title I still find faintly embarrassing). The forecast wasn’t good with heavy showers predicted. The forecast was wrong. It was much wetter than that.

The prospects didn’t look too bad when I met up with film makers Matt and James and the BMC Hillwalking Office Carey Davies in Keswick. There was even some blue sky. Down Borrowdale the sky was a little greyer but it was still dry as we headed along Langstrath before stopping to film a piece on trekking poles. The grey clouds grew thicker and darker and the first drops fell just as we finished. Soon the rain was lashing down and retreat seemed wise – we couldn’t film in this – so it was back to the vehicles at the Stonethwaite camp site where we prepared for a hope-for clearance – the forecast was only for showers. Eventually the rain did ease off and I found myself standing in front of the camera with just my base layer on my top half (and fairly thick walking trousers and waterproof trousers on my legs) as I went through the basics of clothing layers. It certainly convinced me that putting on a fleece and then a waterproof jacket when it’s damp and chilly really makes a big difference!

James and Matt heading up Langstrath towards ominous clouds
The rain didn’t hold off for long and the sky was even darker than before. I thought of that phrase favoured by weather forecasters – ‘merging showers’. That’s what we had. Showers where the gap between them was hard to identify. The sky looking lighter and friendlier to the north we decided to retreat further – all the way back to Keswick in fact where we slid soggily into a very nice cafĂ© called The Square Orange for lunch. Dried out a little and full of coffee and panini we ventured back out, ready for more filming. The sky still looked a little lighter here – down Borrowdale it was black and angry – so we went to the slopes of Latrigg and this time set up the filming equipment not too far from the vehicles. Everything was just in place when the Borrowdale clouds reached us and the rain pounded down again. We waited. We dripped. The gear got wet. Reflectors and bags and coats were held over the cameras and microphone. 

Setting up the equipment
Just as we considering another retreat the rain relented again. Feeling chilly (standing round in cold rain out in the open for ages really isn’t sensible) I donned my insulated jacket and again was delighted at the difference it made. This layer system really is a good idea! We filmed me orienting the map and taking a bearing. Then the rain began again. We waited some more. In the insulated jacket with my waterproof on top I was warm now though my feet were soggy, my rather old trail shoes , which once had a waterproof membrane, having long ago abandoned any pretence at keeping the rain out. 

Matt and Carey watching the rain approach

As the rain started to lessen again the film makers made an announcement. Both cameras had ceased working. ‘They’ll dry out ok packed in rice’, they said confidently. I hope they do. But that wouldn’t be here and now. Back to the vehicles as rainbows appeared in the sky. The rain seemed to have finally stopped. Not that it mattered now. The finale of the day was spent down a side lane where I recorded voice overs sitting in James and Matt’s van. 

Given the conditions I think we did well to film the material we did – James did remark this was the worst day for filming he’d had – and there will be a finished result that will appear on BMC TV. I’ll post here when it does.


  1. What cameras were they, that stopped working in the rain?