Before moving to Wales, we lived in Salisbury for 15 years and never once did we go to the Solstice celebrations at Stonehenge a few miles away. We probably missed out... Stonehenge at the Solstice is a big event. There were things like family life and work commitments that meant we never joined in the all-night / early morning festivities. In any case, crowds are not really our cup of tea.
Last night, tempted by the invitation over on Facebook by some Montgomery friends to gather at the Town Hill County Memorial Monument to see the sun rise on the longest day of the year, we decided to go. We woke at 3.30am, had a quick breakfast and a mug of coffee to give us the energy to hike up the hill and we drove to Montgomery. The castle car park, from where the track to the Monument starts, was closed so we parked down in town. The dawn chorus was lively, cheery and uplifting and set the scene beautifully as we made our way to Town Hill with our friends, Anthea and David, whom we met on the way up.
The woodland edge track is steep and certainly got my heart pumping and my leg muscles working hard on this early morning! I momentarily questioned my fitness level! About half way up, we left the woodland behind and followed the track through a field with sleeping cattle who were not in the least interested in us or fazed by our presence. There, the track showed evidence of the heavy rainfall of the past few weeks but levelled a bit to reveal the Monument in the distance.
We got up to the top ten minutes before the sunrise was due. It was breezy up there, 314 m above sea level, and the pink, yellow and light blue tones in the sky looking East revealed the imminent arrival of what we had climbed to witness. The all-round views from up there are stunning and we knew it would be very special indeed to welcome the official start of Summer at sunrise on this beautiful spot above Montgomery.
A tiny pink dot emerged through the wispy clouds and my heart skipped a beat. There it was! The Sun, at its peak elevation for us in the Northern Hemisphere, revealing itself to us on the longest day of the year. There was just enough cloud to create an atmospheric scene without obscuring the Sun as it began its longest East to West trajectory of the year. We watched this awe inspiring, breathtaking spectable of nature for about twenty minutes before descending back down the hill to town then home.
I am so glad we decided to go, marking the occasion in a way that suits us better than the crowds of Stonehenge... We very much enjoyed our tiny, informal gathering of four people up on a Welsh hill, cheering the sunrise quietly, catching the moment together with our cameras and creating joyful memories that will last a lifetime and that will even warm our hearts through darker times.
Happy Summer Solstice, folks! May you feel the power of the Sun around you and receive, with joy and gratitude, the bountiful offerings of the Earth at this abundant time of year. May you make space, in you and in your life, to bask in the light, now at its peak, and celebrate your own achievements, your zenith, your light. May you enjoy the beauty of nature in its glorious summery fullness and allow the outdoors to tickle all your senses: smell the roses, the lavender and the sweat peas, listen to the birds, seek a wildflower meadow and look for butterflies, walk bare foot on grass, feel the warming sun on your skin, taste the cherries, the strawberries and the peas... Take nature in and delight in the wealth and glory of Midsummer.
(With thanks to David Wilson who took that lovely photo of us watching the sunrise)