Sunrise, and a sky of fire!

With the amount of snow we had on the Friday, I feared the worst for the weekend trip to the Peak District but we decided to give it a go anyway.

An early start on the Saturday and we were delighted to find that conditions on the roads weren’t too bad - snow to start with, but then the majority of the drive was clear, until we got just north of Ashbourne, where we were greeted with the glorious sight of snow covered hills and dales.

The plan was to get a decent walk completed before moving on to Mam Tor and scouting out the area for the planned sunrise session the next day so, after a wonderful breakfast bap in Tideswell, we set off across the fields and headed for Miller’s Dale.

Surprisingly, despite the 4 inches of snow, there had been a lot of other people about which meant following the route was fairly easy and we had a fantastic 6.5 mile walk in bright sunshine before ending up back in Tideswell.

After a spot of lunch, we made our way to Mam Tor which, not surprisingly, was packed with families enjoying the snowy slopes – it’s amazing how a bit of the ‘white stuff’ turns adults into born again kids!

Anyway, we checked out the area and found the ‘iconic’ gate that everyone photographs and made plans for the following morning – the forecast was for a cold night/morning with very little wind so it looked as though we may get lucky – and boy, did we get lucky!!

Despite the ‘iconic’ image being in everyone’s portfolio, I had decided that I would add it to mine as well but, when we got to the spot on the Sunday morning, two other photographers were already there – I knew the spot was popular but, even though we arrived an hour before sunrise, we were out of luck.

I could have joined them, however, I decided I didn’t want to battle for a position so moved further on along the path and found a spot that I thought might be OK.

By the time I’d set up, there was an orange glow starting to caress the horizon and, over the course of the next 20 minutes, the sky simply erupted into a sunrise of fire – I lost count of the number of times we said “wow!”

The image of the day, as far as I was concerned, came when I turned around to see if anything was happening behind me and discovered that Mam Tor was sitting under a bank of red tinged clouds that gave a very sombre feel to it.

Once the sun had risen, we trekked off back to the car and passed the horde of photographers at the iconic gate which made me even more thankful that I’d moved on to a different spot – I’m sure they would all have got some stunning pics but I was delighted to have got something original.

The rest of the weekend flew by, while riding high on the adrenaline, as we completed another walk – a circular route from Mam Tor to Castleton and back to Mam Tor (approx. 8 miles with a stop for breakfast at the Visitor Centre in Castleton, which I thoroughly recommend).

I have to say that I don’t think I’ve ever been so stressed leading up to a photographic trip – the potential of the area, the planning required, the possibility of not getting there due to the weather and the pressure I was putting on myself to get a good image led to an uncomfortable week prior to the trip but, because we were fortunate enough to get brilliant conditions, it was worth it in the end.

Incredible colours on Mam Tor just before the sun rose

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