Wild camping up high can’t be beaten, particularly if you have clear weather and views. I’d never purposefully climbed a mountain simply to see the sunrise and so it seemed appropriate to add it to my 14 for 2014.
Five of us headed up Ben Ledi, one of our local hills – my nephew and his girlfriend, my son and my wife on June 21st. The observant among you will say that technically, we were a day late to wake up to the sun rising on June 22nd but practicalities meant that it was really only feasible for us to make the journey on the 22nd.
We headed out after our evening meal, with the walk taking just a little over two hours to the shoulder of Ben Ledi, a Corbett just west of Callendar. The last section up to the ridge was fairly steep and given there was a light breeze, we decided to find a flat(ish) spot with a good view a little lower than the summit itself.
With the tents up and gear stowed, we headed up to the summit ridge at about 10pm for some beer, fried sausages and marshmallows. I took my little Bushcooker wood-fuelled stove, carrying some wood with me (you can’t beat a real fire). However, the Bushcooker just wasn’t getting hot enough in the breeze to cook the sausages fast so I switched to my Trangia meths burner to finish them off.
We watched the lights twinkle across Callendar, Stirling, Falkirk and Grangemouth, with the Pentlands just about visible in the distance just south of Edinburgh about 50 miles away. We finally stumbled down the hill in the fading light just after 11pm. It was cold in the night and in spite of our tents we all needed several layers on.
We woke just before dawn (leaving my wife and son sleeping) and climbed up to the summit to catch the sun rise. We weren’t the only ones with this idea – a group of seven had taken a mid-sized family tent right up to the summit, and appeared bleary-eyed when we arrived.
The sun made an appearance at 4.28am. In the event, the sun was hidden behind the clouds – but it did provide some lovely soft light and views, particularly towards Ben Lomond and the Arrochar Alps in the west.
We headed down from the summit after enjoying the views and taking a few pictures, glad to warm up again inside our sleeping bags, and waking to a bright, sunny morning.
I’m using my 14 for 2014 to help raise funds for the Naomi House Children’s Hospice in Hampshire. Naomi House cared for little Chiara, the young daughter of a friend and ex-work colleague who died of an incurable brain tumour on the 21st January. This case study tells the moving story of how the life of this energetic three year-old was tragically taken.
Naomi House clearly made a real difference to the last few months of Chiara’s life, and that of her family, and so this is why I want to use my 14 for 2014 to raise awareness and additional funds for the great work that they do. If you have enjoyed reading my blog and feel inspired in any way please consider giving a donation to this extremely worthwhile charity.