An ordeal it may be – getting up in the dark to catch a sunrise – but there’s something invigorating about getting one step ahead of the slumbering world on a Sunday morning. And having failed at the final hurdle just after Christmas I wasn’t going to pass up a golden opportunity to take in the Lake District at first light.
It was icy cold again, but a quick twitch of the curtains at 6.15am told me all I needed to know – the sky was full of stars, piercing the blackness of the sleepy village of Bassenthwaite and promising something in the order of a lightshow when the sun slowly peered over Skiddaw.
I headed out at 7 and made my way along the narrow lanes, a redness on the horizon threatening to spill over at any time. This is the National Park at its most beautiful, its most serene, and down by shore the Park’s only official lake – the others are technically meres, waters or tarns – was frozen.
I set up the camera gear, watching the sky change and the light weave its way around the rugged landscape and playing on the semi-frozen surface, before moving around the shoreline to take in the crisp air and ever changing scenery. As the sun rose the same air became hazy. A field of skeletal trees cast long shadows across the frost-tipped terrain, sheep basking in the sunshine, the only life in this corner of the world.
And then the haze turned to a fully formed fog, shrouding the glacial backdrop in an intriguing translucent cloak. The more I walked the thicker it became, a harsh sun now trying in vain to burn through but failing to dissipate the soupy air, creating a ghost-like scene that enticed me in, curious to discover what was hidden in Cumbria’s finest locale… a seemingly endless fairytale that offered up amongst other things a long forgotten railway station and a more frequented church awaiting a Sunday congregation.
After three hours I returned to the village just as the rest of the household was rising, content in the knowledge that I had made the best of the day’s ever changing light.
I’d got what I came for – the rest of the day was pure chillout.