how to get the best sunrise

Dawn Raid

Nothing compares to sitting on top of a mountain with a brew, watching the sun rise. There’s just something magical about it. Mesmerising almost.  The light and colours which cast over the landscape as the sun peeps above the tallest mountain makes clambering out of bed at 5am completely worth it.


Being in a position to catch the sun rise from a spectacular viewpoint requires both preparation and motivation. Here’s how..

When to catch sunrise

Taking the time of year in to account when setting off on a dawn raid is crucial. The colours created by the sun rising are much more spectacular during the spring and autumn, and thanks to daylight saving, you get an extra precious hour in bed!

Where to watch sunrise

Deciding on where to watch the sun rise from is a completely personal choice. Getting high in the mountains affords you an unbeatable vista of the surrounding landscape. But simply getting outside in your garden or local park can be a great way to enjoy this special time of day. If planning to get in to the mountains, try to get as close as possible the night before. By staying close to the start of the climb, you’ll reduce the amount of time needed to get up there. When planning a dawn raid on Roy’s Peak, Wanaka (New Zealand), I parked the van close by so that we could be up and climbing as soon as possible.



Likewise, when preparing to climb Mount Taranaki we parked at the foot of the mountain. Admittedly we weren’t at the summit for sunrise, but it was spectacular nonetheless.

Closer to home (in Cheshire), Moel Famau is the perfect spot for an impromptu dawn raid. A twenty minute drive from Chester, followed by a 25 minute hike will get you almost 600m above sea level.



What to pack

Preparing the night before is essential! Thinking that you’ll be able to wake up early, pack a bag and get to your chosen spot before day break is completely unrealistic. Packing the basic necessities should set you up for a successful dawn raid. A good torch or head torch for accessing your chosen spot is essential. Walking up a mountain in the dark can be slightly challenging if you can’t see where you are going. The VARTA LED optics torch is an ideal companion for such missions; small, light and up 180 lumens. Obviously, brew making equipment – stove, water, tea or coffee, sugar and milk. Having breakfast at the top of a mountain as the sun rises is definitely one of my favourite ways to welcome a new day!



A down jacket is useful for throwing on when you get to the top when it gets cold, as is a hat and gloves.

Remember to take your camera and tripod if you have one. If not, ensure your phone is charged!



7 thoughts on “Dawn Raid

  1. Watching the sunrise from our favourite spot in the Wicklow Mountains, here in Ireland, is something I would love to do with my kids. Thanks for the non-nonsense tips!

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