Wilderness Wales


Millennium Sunrise

A blast of wind, a chill in the air, moisture dripping from the darkening sky, dreary fog clinging to the tops, a bleak prospect ahead. Gaiters and waterproofs donned, the load heaved onto the shoulders, the trudge begins. Weaving tracks, splitting and merging, fading into the dark. In the blackness all too soon, torch beams like searchlights through the fog, straying into all-encompassing bogs. More water than land now, boots fill with cold wet chill, backtracking and heading for higher land. Finally the lake, the sound of lapping water, no visual confirmation but none required, the final traverse of the lake a mere technicality. A brief rest in the rain, the tents erected, sanctuary at last, albeit with an ever-present dampness.  
Midnight approaches with no respite, my brother disappears into the fog on his personal mission. Alone in the tent, candles flickering in syncopation with the irregular gusts. The moment is nigh. On with the soggy mud-encrusted boots and out into the night. Midnight is verified, torch estinguished, the moment experienced in black silence. Waves lapping, wind chilling, bleak fog engulfed blackness. This is it, the culmination of a thousand years.

12:17 am; local midnight, inside the tent now. Pickled mussels, authentic Halloumi and the Roquefort king. The occasional sip of Earl Grey completes the unlikely quartet. The flysheet still shakes, the candles still flicker.

12:40 am; distant explosions, the rest of the world has caught up with me. Or me with them.
6:00 am; everything is silent, the wind has dissipated, it appears to be getting light. A look outside reveals a misty moon and a point of Venusian light reflected in the flat surface of the lake. An eerie atmosphere.
7:00 am; time for business. On with the damp boots and out into the chill. The sky is a magical shade of dark blue, Venus and the Moon pose for photos. A lakeside rock replaces my forgotten tripod. The reddish glow begins, the lights in the sky move imperceptibly higher, valley fog rears it's head and teases me.

7:30 am; lighter now, rucksack on and gone. Quickly moving, snapping at the lake with walking stick for support. Over the rise to a vista of fog, dull and brooding. Slope steepening, effort increasing, panorama expanding, sunrise impending, summit too distant.

{[ms18.jpg]}8:22:18 am; the precise moment of sunrise for my exact location, recorded for posterity, midway up the slope. The sun actually appears some five minutes later, peeking above the low cloud. The fog never reaches the altitude I'd hoped for, but it's an impressive fogscape nonetheless. Mid-Wales is completely immersed, patches of fog drift and play in the valleys to the south. This is a memory that will live as long as I do, and perhaps, with my photos, even longer.
A pleasant few hours spent wandering the tops, absorbing the sunshine, recording the sights, the likes of which I've not seen for over 12 years. A surprising start to the new millennium after the weather of the previous night. One of the few walkers I met uttered the phrase "Brave New World". A very apt comment given the stunning panorama.

Thin clouds roll in, the tops mist over, the sun peeks through. More atmospheric than overcast, an appropriate finale. The fog remains for many hours, dissipating slowly. The sky grows greyer as the day advances.

Equipment packed, the lakeside camp abandoned, the return journey is downhill and quick. Back at the car the scene looks bleak, the weather is changing once more.