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Beauty on the Fells- An early morning cloud inversion

An alarm rings in the darkness. I roll over, shocked by the harsh noise daring to break the silence of the night. Fumbling at the bedside table, the electronic chirp stops, moments later, the lamp lights. I am sat up in bed, gazing, unseeingly at the far wall. I check my phone: 3.30am. I briefly wonder if it is worth being up at this hour just to be on the fells. I look over to the neat stack of clothes next to an already packed bag. In just three hours, I need to be on top of fells for one of natures most breathtaking offerings, a dawn inversion. Grudgingly, I don clothes, eat a meagre breakfast and brush my teeth. Then, I step out into the night.

A study of the weather forecast over the past few days had solidified my certainty that there would be a cloud inversion over the fells. Likewise, a study of the position of the sun, suggested that, at dawn, Bow Fell and Crinkle Crags would be lit by the dawn light. A study of the map showed a fell, Side Pike, would offer a commanding view of these fells, while also being just large enough to be above the cloud. It was these predictions and calculations that lead me to set the 3.30am alarm, had driven me out of my warm bed and was now sending me down the A66, towards the Lake District, and the Langdale Valley.

The journey was quick and eventless, my cars headlights the only light to be seen, and, for a time, it seemed I was the only person in this dark world. As I drove, the tiredness began to hit. I turned on the car radio and wound down a window, the blast of cold, damp air rejuvenating my foggy senses. Approaching the turn off the A66, a large lay by beckoned me. “Pull over”, it seemed to cry, “pull over and rest, you can go to the fells in the day”. It was tempting, the darkness was absolute, and the morning was cold. How much more pleasant it must be to go to the fells during the day, well rested and warm. I felt my mind cry out for the sleep it so wanted. How simple it would have been, to pullover, lay back and wait until the daylight appeared. I resisted the urge, and instead continued my way along dark roads towards the fells.

The fog started around Dunmail Raise. I had expected it, for to have a cloud inversion, there must be fog at ground level, but it unnerved me. It is ingrained that, if you are in fog or cloud, you wont get views. To specifically target a day with fog and cloud to get views, seemed tantamount to madness. The fog thickened progressively as I wound through the narrow lanes of Langdale Valley, throwing my senses into disarray. Eventually, I found the small car park, pulled up and turned off the headlights. Blackness, complete sucking blackness after the brightness of the car headlights. I stared ahead as my night vision gradually adapted and nearby shapes became visible. I checked my watch, I did not have much time, I had a date with the fells, I could not be late.

I don bag and fasten the laces of my trainers. I set off, along the flat path into the forest, my head torch illuminating the way. I look up, imagining the shapes of the high fells around me, hidden by the dark and the fog. I begin to ascend Side Pike, a modest hill that offers commanding views of surrounding higher fells. The way up is simple, but in the dark and fog, my journey up was cumbersome. I reach a grassy rise and begin the walk up, I know the summit is near. The blackness of night is being replaced by the inky blue that precedes morning. I sense the cloud around me, muffling all. The sudden clarity stuns me, the air is clear and fresh and cold. I can see. I am above the cloud. Around me are silhouettes of mountains, ahead of me the summit of Side Pike rises out of the cloud. I am above an inversion.

Dawn breaks and I am at the summit. The cloud below me forms a huge blanket, simplifying the landscape into cloud, fell and sky. The bulk of Bow Fell and Crinkle Crags rise out of the fog in front of me, beauty itself. Many times have I gazed on this sight, but never before has their majesty been so apparent. Dressed in the soft light of dawn and rising out of the cloud, they were simply stunning. I am completely alone, while I have no doubt that there will be people on this fell soon, these quiet, dawn hours, are mine.

I do not know how long I stayed for. The soft dawn light gave way for the harsher light of day, and the diminutive summit I was on bobbed in and out of cloud, yet still I stayed, transfixed by beauty. I had a route in mind, but I could not draw myself away from this, to descend back into the cloud even for a moment and miss this sight. Eventually, coldness and tiredness drove me onwards, I descended back into the cloud and walked along the ridge to gain the summit of Lingmoor Fell, before descending into the cloud a final time to complete a circuit back to the car. A couple stood arguing near by. The husband did not want to go up on to the fells due to the cloud, I showed them a picture. A picture filled with a serene, simple beauty. As I pulled away from the car park, I saw them heading off towards the fells, filled with an optimism to see what I had witnessed.

I completed the drive home in silence, as if to break the silence with music would be to loose that feeling of being on the fells. A time where life was simplified, where all the hustle and bustle and the r

Beauty on the Fells

Beauty on the Fells

Beauty on the Fells

Beauty on the Fells

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