It was time to head up my favourite UK mountain once more. Helvellyn in the lake District of Cumbria, This time for a mountain top sunrise. The third highest peak in England and for me one of the first when it comes to a British mountain experience.
However, this climb was on a whim, I saw the weather forecast the day before and saw it was going to be a clear cool morning. Well why not? Get climbing up there overnight and be ready for sunrise. The alarm was set for 2 am, rucksack packed, headtorch at the ready, let’s go!
The Walk Up
I normally ascend the gorgeous Patterdale route and via Striding Edge. However with time and the potential danger here in darkness I drove round to Thirlmere to go up the steep, direct way from the back. I wanted to get up safely and quickly this time.
The sky was clear, the air was calm and nippy… perfect. Up and up, head torch leading the way with help from the moonlight. Wasn’t too bad a walk actually, I was there well in time for the orange glow of pre dawn to start. The flask of warm coffee and some mint cake ‘rocket fuel’ kept me warm and happy as I waited in total peace and tranquility. Miles away from anyone, high above the land.
And then it came. The ball of fire created another sunrise that I will never forget. Over to the East, over the M6 and peaking out over the Pennines the sun started to show itself. I was taking pics but also remembering to enjoy the moment, getting used to that now. To my left was Swirral Edge, Striding Edge stretching out to my right. Down directly below Red Tarn started collecting reflections of the sun and clouds. The dogleg of the gorgeous body of water that is Ullswater was covered in mist. So many good things at once to savour.
As the sun rose I looked back. Many of you that have been on this summit on a clear day will know ‘that view’! The whole of the Lake District lies before you, Coniston range left, Scafell Pike and Co centre heading out to Skiddaw North and right. I watched as the sun touch the peaks and warmed the land slowly. I watched for a long while.
Alas it was time to head back down. I had another climb in the afternoon. But at least I got to savour the route back down in dawn daylight as I had come up in the dark night. The mountains getting brighter and greener as time went on. Thirlmere in the valley bottom showing wonderful reflections.
Now that was a great night hike and a beautiful morning, I am sure I will be back here many many times again!