Country diary: everyone is silent as the solar deity emerges

Country diary: everyone is silent as the solar deity emerges

Helvellyn, Lake District: There is a kind of ritual in the way people watch sunrises and sunsets, and a shared understanding

Sunrise begins at 5.04am as a small, claret-coloured coin emerges, glowing through the heatwave haze on the horizon. There is something surreal about the sun’s lack of ferocity at this early hour. Seen from this height, it’s as if there is a red moon, or a strange planet, rising over the broad back of the North Pennines.

It is warm and windless on the summit plateau of the third highest mountain in England, Helvellyn. Open space is everywhere, but the atmosphere at this early hour is more like the cloistered stillness you might find in a church or a library. Raising our voices above a whisper would be disrespectful, even sacrilegious.

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