Thursday, 7 October 2010

Moel Famau

(click for bigger size. same applies for all the images below too)

Let's start at the beginning shall we? A week or two ago, seeing the dawn from the top of Moel Famau was mentioned in conversation, along with "How cool would that be?"

I wanted to go a week or so ago, but Bren had other committments, so we settled on this morning instead.

As the day approached I anxiously checked the weather forecast, and yesterday evening, the forecast for Mold reckoned the night would be clear, and the day would be sunny.

Good omens!

And so we got up at 4.30 4.40 this morning with a struggle, intending to leave the house at around 5am.

And so it was that at 5.30 am, we set off for Flintshire.

Moel Famau is the tallest of the Clywyd hills. It stands at around 1,800 feet tall, and offers a fine view in all directions. You can see it from most of wirral, where it looks like a sort of volcano with a pimple on the top. Here's how it looks from Google Earth.

A late start and a wrong turn meant that by the time we arrived at around 6.20, the sky was starting to lighten in the East. We parked in the car park, put our boots on, and started walking.

Moel Famau is a popular and straightforward climb. There is a well defined path running up to the summit from the car park, and the strengthening light meant we were able to find our way without trouble. Driving in the dark for the previous hour had sharpened our night vision, so the first few photos I took were far darker than what we could see with our eyes.

As we got towards the top, we met a man coming down with a camera and tripod. And here's me thinking we were the only ones! I wonder what kind of pictures he managed to take? As you can see, the sky is much lighter. We'd missed the dawn by maybe half an hour.

But we didn't really go up to see the dawn at all. The dawn is just the sky gradually turning from black to blue to red. It's like the bit after sunset where the sky gets duller, only backwards.

No, we weren't there to see the dawn. We were there to see the sunrise!

The view was amazing. Thick mists were rolling across the fields below. At first the summit was clear, but we found ourselves surrounded by thin cloud that fogged up Brenda's lens, and softened our view of the surrounding countryside. And as this happened, the sun rose above the horizon.

We drank cocoa and I smoked a cigarette. But mainly, we took photographs. Lots of photographs.

Sun and mist gave rise to something called a brocken spectre. Something I've never seen with my own eyes before. The good thing about them is that everyone gets one for themselves.

The Brocken Spectre appears when a low sun is behind a climber who is looking downwards into mist from a ridge or peak. The "spectre" is the shadowy figure - the glow and rings are of course a glory centered directly opposite the sun at the antisolar point. But how is the ghostly figure produced? It is no more than the shadow of the climber projected forward through the mist. All shadows converge towards the antisolar point where the glory also shines.

But enough words.

This is just a brief selection of the better ones I took at the top.

Here are some more from on the way down.

Today was a day I will remember for the rest of my life.

For the photographically minded, the photographs above were taken using a Sony Cybershot 7.2 Mp camera, using either "Easy" or "Auto-adjustment" settings. With the exception of the letterbox format picture at the top of this post, which is a composite created using autostitch, and cropped using gimp, the photographs have not been modified or processed in any way.

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