Visiting the rock formation couldn’t be easier; there’s a bi-hourly bus service from Sheffield and a paid car park near Surprise View. The car park is only paid for until 18:00, so it becomes free whe doing astrophotography or just star gazing. There are laminated signs saying that at weekends the car park is locked from 21:00, in my experience this has never happened.
According to Dark Sky Discovery Sites, Surprise View is a “Milky Way” site:
At these sites the Milky Way is visible to the naked eye. They are much darker sites found only in more rural areas.
In a way, their assessment of the site is spot on — you could see the Milky Way, but very faintly. Don’t have this assumption that you’ll see it the way it looks like the photos — those photos are taken with long exposures and will have been enhanced.
The first time I attempted to hike up to Mother Cap from the car park, I bailed, got too freaked out by how dark and quiet it was. I keep justifying to myself that I wouldn’t have gotten good shot anyway.
I wasn’t until November 16th that I got another chance to have a go at photographing the Milky Way at Mother Cap. Plucking up my courage, I started to hike up with some banging pop tunes playing in the background just to break the silence.
Of course I had to stop halfway to test my camera settings and check that I still haven’t gone crazy for hiking in the dark with a cheap head torch. Turns out I was still quite sane and that my camera settings were good.
Arriving at the foot of Mother Cap, I took out PhotoPills just to verify where the Milky Way is in the skies. Some minor light painting of the rock formation had to be done to ensure I was happy with the positioning.
As you can see with both pictures above, Mother Cap was well positioned against the backdrop of a star-filled skies. In the first image, I opted to paint the rock formation with light, as a result the background was a bit washed out.