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  • Writer's pictureDee Crute

How To Watch A Sunrise

by Dawn Nelson

As an author, podcaster and performance storyteller, working to connect people with the landscape, heritage and nature, I recorded a year of sunrises when I challenged myself to get up once a month and greet the day. It was during lockdown that I felt the call to reacquaint myself with my namesake and so it was in January 2021 that I found myself creeping out the door into the crepuscular twilight of my village home.

Sunrise at Stonehenge ID: 1099064429

Over twelve months, I journaled twelve very different sunrises, from the cold, dark winter through to the unsociably early June sunrise and back again. Moving through the seasons, making friends with a roe buck, following the love story of two tawny owls and watching the Mediterranean gulls fly north across a lilac sky, were just some of the highlights from these moments of morning quietude. Blending nature narrative with folklore and story, I sought to bring the South Downs to life through the pages of the book and shine a light on the crepuscular hours of the day.

So, if you want to watch a sunrise this summer, how do you go about it? It is of course very simple, but there are some things I can share with you that will enhance the experience and make things a bit easier.

To get the full effect, you’ll need to be sat in your chosen spot around half an hour before the sun is due to rise. In June, this is around 430 a.m. It’s worth it, though. If you get a clear morning, as the sun appears, its rays will catch the horizon, up-lighting the fluffy cumulus clouds and creating an effect reminiscent of the chapel ceilings of the Italian Renaissance. 

You won’t need a plane ticket for this sunrise, though. All you will need is appropriate clothing for the weather, something to sit on if it’s winter, a spot on a hill to sit and watch, and maybe a flask of something hot to drink. You will also need to make sure that wherever you are sitting, you are facing east.

Good places to start, in the UK are the areas with hill ranges, of which there are many.

Examples are the Lake District, Penines. Cheviots, Yorkshire Dales, Black Mountains, Malvern Hills, Peak District, Mendips, Chilterns, South Downs and North Downs, Cambrian Hills, Brecon Beacons, Sidlaw Hills, Lomond Hills, Galloway Hills and Pentland. Apologies if I’ve missed your favourite hill range, as I said, there are many in the UK.

Your local hill will do just fine though and if you are in a town, you could consider finding out where the castle ruins are if you have them, or the church or cathedral, as these are often on a hill.

Then, the main thing is to make sure you are comfy. Arriving at your sit-spot half an hour before the sun's scheduled arrival gives you time to take in the whole show, but it can be cold. When the sun eventually appears, it takes less than a minute for it to arrive fully in the sky, and when it does, I guarantee it will warm your bones.

If you prefer to experience a sunrise from your sofa, then ‘Stories Of The Sun’, by Dawn Nelson is available in all good bookshops, and you can find more of her work via

What the reviews say:


‘Themes such as the turning year, the dawn chorus, bird migrations, megaliths, sun kings and sun gods/goddesses are all deftly covered in this well written tome.’

Raven Book Lover, Amazon Reveiwer


‘This book had everything I wanted it to have and more, well written and engaging in every way’. Demelda Penkitty, Goodreads


‘What a lovely way to spend my time. Listening to the story whilst painting was very soothing. Great information. Looking forward to the next podcast.' - Apple iTunes reviewer


'A really interesting and entertaining listen with a mix of stories and well researched folklore. I learned a lot and really enjoyed the stories' Apple iTunes reviewer


'Storyteller Dawn Nelson has worked an indescribable magic from Year R all the way up to Y12. From Norse and Greek myths, to local tales and folklore from the land, I have had the genuine joy of watching the children listen, sing and join in with call and response (as if they all knew beforehand that they had a part to play!).’ Bryony Hart, Teacher Of English & Whole School Literacy, Portsmouth Grammar School


About Dawn

Dawn Nelson lives within the beautiful South Downs. Her specialism is landscape, heritage and nature interpretation. She works with heritage sites, museums, schools, outdoor educators, community groups, councils and libraries to bring the world around us to life through story.


She has worked with The South Downs National Park Authority, Butser Ancient Farm, Gilbert White's House & Gardens, Petersfield Museum and Winchester Museum as well as many other organisations in Hampshire and Sussex. You can find her performing stories at events such as Boat Burnings, Beltane celebrations and multi-period re-enactment shows. Her passion is connecting people with nature, history and the landscape that surrounds them, through storytelling and you can keep up to date with Dawn’s work by visiting her website where you will find her newsletter, podcast, news and upcoming events.


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