Words: Lucy Grewcock (Wild Guides Author)
Sunsets are at their most magnificent in autumn and winter. It’s due to the crisper, cleaner air allowing more light particles to reach our eyes. The result is vivid red, pink and orange skies which bathe everything they touch in golden light. The colours are more intense, the shadows are deeper and, without the summer crowds, you can enjoy stunning seasonal sunsets all to yourself.
The Lake District and Yorkshire Dales are blessed with countless highpoints and quiet coasts that are ideal for watching the setting sun. And it goes without saying that there’s no shortage of rustic rural pubs with log fires and local food for a post-sunset pint. On many of the lower peaks, it’s surprisingly easy to hike to the top and gaze at an ethereal scene, then wander back down before it gets too dark. Here are five sunset spots that won’t disappoint.
Pendle Hill – Forest of Bowland
Visible from almost everywhere, this isolated hill rose to fame in the 17th-century: it was the centre of the notorious Pendle Witch Trials; the site of a vision that founded the Quaker movement; and the location for Richard Towneley's barometer experiment (the principle behind the steam engine). At 557m (1,827ft), the climb from Barley Green takes about an hour. Afterwards, head to the Freemasons at Wiswell for independent ales, house-made sausages and Nidderdale lamb.
Almscliffe Crag – nr North Rigton
Much-loved by local climbers, this gritstone crag has huge boulders and incredible views over the Wharfe Valley. Until 2005, it appeared in the opening titles of Emmerdale. If you’re a confident climber, you could scale the crag and watch the sun sink over the surrounding farmland. Descend to the Shoulder of Mutton in Kirkby Overblow for a post-sunset pint and some Masham lamb, then spend the night in an off-grid shepherd’s hut at The Forge, South Stainley.
Gummer’s How – Windermere
An easy hill to climb, Gummer’s How is a mere 321m (1,053ft) but the sunsets are stunning and the views over Windermere are fantastic – far better than you’d expect for a short, sharp climb. Once you’ve taken in the seasonal hues, The Hare and Hounds in Bowland Bridge or the Mason’s Arms in Cartmel Fell are both good options for an evening meal, and the simple camping ground at Borderside Farm is only a couple of miles away.
Cat Bells (from Little Town – Borrowdale
Simple to navigate and quick to climb, this ‘miniature mountain’ is perfect for an early evening ascent. At the top, you’ll be rewarded with panoramic Lakeland views that reach over Derwent Water. Most people walk up from the carpark at Hause Head but to avoid the crowds, ascend via Yewthwaite Comb instead – set off from Little Town Farm, which has a lovely tearoom/restaurant and B&B rooms.
Sandscale Haws – Barrow & Silverdale
Swap summits for the sand and watch the sun melt into the sea at Sandscale Haws. This beautiful dune-backed beach gives views across the Duddon Estuary, which is filled with more than 20,000 wading birds and winter wildfowl. The local dune habitat and local wildlife are equally outstanding – listen for curlews and great crested newts, or wait until April and come at dusk for noisy natterjack toads. Add even more atmosphere to your evening by sleeping at Fell End Camping Barn, which dates back to the 18th-century and is lit by flickering tea-lights at night.
To make the most of your Lakeland or Yorkshire Dales sunset, take warm clothes and a flask of hot chocolate – I like to add a tot of rum or a nip of whisky to mine. That way, you can snuggle down and stay warm while you watch the evening hues in all their glory, until the very last rays have drained from the day. If you’re feeling more adventurous, and the weather’s clear, you could take a bivvy bag and stay after dark to stargaze.
For more inspiration on wild adventures this Autumn take a look at Wild Guide Lakes and Dales and other Wild Guides.
About the Author:
Lucy Grewcock - Travel Writer & Author
Lucy Grewcock is an award-winning travel writer and author of Wild Guide – Southern and Eastern England, which won ‘Travel Guide Book of the Year’ at the 2015 Travel Media Awards. She has worked on several other books in the Wild Guide series as a researcher and proofreader.