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Stone Circle


Castlerigg visit #2 (19.10.2011)

Since my sunlit evening visit on the weekend, we have climbed Blencathra and had an aerial view of the circle from Gategill Fell Top. The intervening days have showed the other side of Lakes weather, with gale force wind, heavy rain and a hailstorm the order of the two days. But the forecast is good for today, a single weather-window amongst the wet for us to climb Skiddaw from Wainwright's recommended route via Ullock Pike. I'm also keen to see Castlerigg at sunrise and so I leap out of bed (in itself almost newsworthy) at some ridiculous hour to make sure I'm there to see it. I leave the house just before 6, which turns out to be about forty minutes too early for the time of year.

And so it is that I arrive at the gate just after six, in complete darkness with only my rubbish headtorch to light the way. I'm not entirely surprised to find a car already there. As I cross the field to the circle, I make out the indistinct figure of my fellow visitor and I make my way around the perimeter of the circle. As I enter the circle, mumbling a "morning" in my not-working-this-early voice, the figure gets up and leaves. Sorry.

But I do at least get the circle to myself, in darkness that is almost complete. A few flash-lit photos are taken, mainly point and guess efforts as I've switched my torch off. The walk up the hill had got me quite warm, but as I stop to await the dawn I'm glad of my thick fleece and gloves. Finally a faint light is coming over High Rigg. At which point the first of several new co-visitors arrive. During the next 20 minutes or so another three or four people arrive, all with tripods and proper cameras. The opportunity for a sunrise photo here is obviously not going to be wasted. It's interesting to watch the proceedings in the grey pre-dawn. I had been leaning against one of the stones, but as the light starts to creep over the hilltops I detach myself from it and leave the circle. All of the photographers are super-respectful of each other's positions and none of them enter the circle. All are positioned to greet the dawn, giving things a strangely religious feel. One of the photographers, a Scot, recounts how she had climbed Latrigg the day before and walked through the woods to take photos of the autumn leaves. I think back to the filthy weather we had yesterday and metaphorically doff my cap (it's too cold to actually do so). My photo attempts are limited and I wish for the tripods and SLRs of my fellow visitors. At least it's easier for me to change position!

The sunrise is a slow affair, the faint sliver of blue giving way to pre-dawn grey. The top of Blencathra is clear of cloud, a good sign for our Skiddaw walk later. A pink-lilac illluminates the west, and the conical shape of Great Mell Fell becomes a focal point. It's a beautiful sight, pretty as can be. The pink-lilac turns to a streaked orange and the stones become sharper. Some thicker cloud rolls across, hiding the very tops of the hills to the southeast. Within an hour, the spectacle is over, but boy has it been worth coming to see. I head off back to the house and breakfast. In a couple of hours we'll be off for our walk and despite some cloud it looks like a good day for it. Can't wait.
thesweetcheat Posted by thesweetcheat
30th October 2011ce
Edited 31st October 2011ce

Comments (5)

TSC - you are a lucky man!
Thanks for the very atmospheric description of your visit.
It is one of my life's ambitions to watch the sun rise over Castlerigg.
Perhaps one day.............
Posted by CARL
31st October 2011ce
Castlerigg was my first equinox sunrise destination, I was all the grey fog. Not the best of visits.
Your notes remind me of two separate mornings at Swinside, one where I was too early in the dark and alone. the other a perfect winter solstice sunrise with Prof Mick Aston looking on, amongst a number of photographers all with better kit than me, they all shunned the interior too.
postman Posted by postman
31st October 2011ce
Thank you both, it was certainly a memorable sight. Carl, I'm sure you'll do it one day, with appreciative little uns in tow perhaps. thesweetcheat Posted by thesweetcheat
31st October 2011ce
Tcs, I missed the #2 and thought I had already read your fieldnote. So glad I checked, this is a superb descriptive piece of writing. I will come back to it whenever I need cheering up - well done you for getting up in the middle of the night and finding your way up there. tjj Posted by tjj
31st October 2011ce
Thanks June, too kind (and I think I may have exaggerated the "middle of the night"-ness).

thesweetcheat Posted by thesweetcheat
31st October 2011ce
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