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Bessyboot sunrise

Skiddaw from Bessyboot

Sleeping inside a bivvy bag on a hilltop is an odd feeling. It’s usually too cold to leave your head outside the bag so you spend the night separated from the wonders of mountains and stars by a thin sheet of nylon. You hear everything, you feel the breeze across the fabric but it’s all outside. I usually pop my head out a couple of times just to see how it looks. It’s rarely black at night in summer and if you’re lucky sometimes you see a beautiful full moon over the mountain tops.

When the alarm goes off it’s exciting to get up and see what the sunrise is going to bring. I’ve rarely been disappointed. If I’ve read the weather forecast right I get up about twenty minutes before sunrise to see a band of rainbow colours on the horizon and a deep blue sky. If there are clouds they may be blood red or fiery orange. Quick on with the boots, add hat and gloves as it’s usually cold, and find the first composition. You need to be quick as the light changes by the minute.

Great Gable Sunrise

On this morning, after spending the night on Bessyboot summit, the first suggestion of light appeared just on the tip of Great Gable. Very quickly, like a racing tide, it spread north along the ridge to Base Brown and then to the Buttermere tops of High Stile and High Crag. As the minutes went by the colours changed from purple to pink to red and orange.

By six fifteen the light show was over but I knew I had some good shots in the bag.


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