the seven best places in Britain to see the sunrise
How about a pocket adventure to watch a spectacular sunrise? Here are seven great places to greet the longest day…
The summer solstice – the longest day of the year– has been celebrated for millennia at Stonehenge, among other places, by our ancestors and their modern counterparts: ‘druids’, Wiccans and neo-pagans of all kinds.
Dawn celebrations around ancient monuments carry on to this day, but you don’t need to be a druid to enjoy a spectacular sunrise. Why not pack a breakfast picnic and head for one of these beautiful spots, on the solstice or indeed on any day of the year? A sunrise is, after all, one of nature’s greatest free shows – and it happens every morning…
1. Benacre Broad, Suffolk
Also known as the Sunrise Coast, the Suffolk coast faces east, offering uninterrupted views of the sun rising over the sea. Benacre Broad is part of a small National Nature Reserve, almost mid-way between Lowestoft to the north and Southwold on the Suffolk Coast and Heaths long-distance footpath. The broad is actually a largely fresh water coastal lagoon just behind the beach and is home to over 100 breeding bird species, including the magnificent marsh harrier, the bearded reedling, woodlark, wheatear and hobby.
2. Ely Cathedral, Cambridgeshire
A beautiful building to frame any sunrise, Ely Cathedral sits on a small island of raised ground in the Cambridgeshire fens and its two magnificent towers dominate the surrounding landscape. There’s a generous apron of open space around the cathedral and lots of photo opportunities for that perfect silhouette.
3. Worcester and Herefordshire Beacons, Malvern Hills
These ancient summits tower over the Malvern towns and villages at their feet to the east; Herefordshire Beacon, the smallest at 338 m/1,109 feet is towards the southern end of the Malvern Hills, while Worcester Beacon (425 m/1,394 feet) stands over Great Malvern in the north. Both are blessed with wide views, but Herefordshire Beacon is the most interesting with its contours accentuated by the ramparts of its magnificent Iron Age hill fort – often compared to a giant wedding cake – caught in the low sun.
4. Llanfairpwllgwyngyll, Anglesey
Views of Victorian and modern bridges across the Menai Straits frame sunrises at Llanfairpwllgwyngyll, but it’s worth exploring Anglesey a little further at Tywyn Niwbwrch or Newborough Warren to the southwest. Head along the beach towards Llanddwyn Island where there are awe-inspiring views of Snowdonia to the east. The Island has a ruined chapel dedicated to the Welsh version of St Valentine, St Dwynwen.
5. Glastonbury Tor, Somerset
Glastonbury Tor at sunrise – Photo credit: Jon Callow
Most of us would recognize the iconic silhouette of Glastonbury Tor with St Michael’s Tower at its summit. Rising over the flat lands of Sedgemoor, the Tor is famous for its gothic, romantic and hippy associations, both mystical and mythical. Arthurian legend and millennia-old spiritual significance being as solid as the memory of mist to most of us, it’s appropriate that the Tor is also home to a kind of mirage, known as the Fata Morgana. Named after King Arthur’s sister, Morgan Le Fay, the Fata is an optical illusion caused by the bending of light rays through air of different temperatures. Because of this the Tor will sometimes appear to be floating on a cloud like a castle in the sky.
6. Ben Nevis, Highland
An opportunity to catch the summer solstice sunrise from the summit of the UK’s highest mountain, in the hands of experienced mountain guides. To get there in time, the parties will leave the night before, Tuesday 20 June 2017, from the visitor centre 11.30pm.
(£40 per person – www.richmountainexperiences.co.uk)
7. Eilean Donan, Highland
Almost as inspiring as the peaks, you will recognize this iconic Scottish castle from films, TV and postcards as soon as you see it. A tidal island at the meeting of three sea lochs on the southern tip of Wester Ross, and linked to the shore by a picturesque three-arched bridge, Eilean Donan is the perfect tranquil spot to witness the summer solstice.