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With the summer solstice taking place in June, we've been thinking about the incredible beauty of the sunrise. One of the most awe-inspiring, epic spectacles that nature has to offer, midsummer is a particularly special time to catch the rising sun in all its glory. Signifying rebirth and new beginnings, the summer solstice marks the longest day of the year in the northern hemisphere. On Friday 21 June, the UK enjoys more hours of sunlight than any other day. Often known as the 'longest day', the sun rises at 4.43am, setting at 9.21pm.
Traditionally, the summer solstice has proved an important moment in the pagan calendar, and Stonehenge near Avebury and Salisbury is one of the world's focal points for mid-summer festivities. Sun revellers and druids unite around the 4,000 year old prehistoric stone circle, with an amazing 20,000 people showing up each year.
However, there are plenty of other times and places to catch beautiful and breathtaking sunrises around the UK! With long summer days stretching out ahead of us, it's worth getting up with the dawn to catch one or two. Summer is the perfect time to reconnect with nature, with long, light-filled days encouraging us to spend more time outdoors with the people we love. So read on for some of our favourite spots around England to catch the early morning sun, and share your snaps with us along the way!
The South Coast has plenty of amazing spots to catch the sunrise, with one of our favourites being the stunning Isle of Purbeck, close to Poole in Dorset. This rugged patch of coastline, with the iconic Old Harry Rocks adding a little touch of magic, mingles the sun and sea for an atmospheric, soulful experience. Away from the coast, head to eerie Corfe Castle, built in the 11th century, for an atmospheric, misty start. There's plenty to see and do once the sun comes up - so pack a breakfast picnic and head for an energising walk along the coast to the pretty town of Swanage to start the day.
Without a doubt one of the most spectacular spots in the UK to catch early morning views and enjoy staggering hues of red, orange and yellow across the Malvern Hills. Many opt for Worcestershire Beacon, but with the beauty of the cathedral in the distance and an amazing display of 4th century earthworks scattered across the hills, Herefordshire Beacon is one of our favourite spots. It's an easy walk to the summit; once there, let the breathtaking yellows and oranges of the sunrise unfold all around you, with views of the Black Mountains in the distance.
With its pretty villages, rolling hills, coastal plains and atmospheric valleys proving ideal starting points, the chalky South Downs has a panoply of great spots to embrace the dawn. There's plenty of lovely spots to set up camp, from hills and rivers to chalky flatlands and beautiful fields. Why not head up to the Trundle, the earthy remains of an Iron Age hill fort atop St Roche's hill, with fantastic views over Chichester Harbour and on a clear day, the Isle of Wight. Deep pinks mingle with golden hues at this serene spot; take a moment's pause and enjoy watching the wildlife and some of Britain's prettiest countryside wake around you.
There are plenty of stunning views to choose from across the gorgeous New Forest, along with local ponies picking their way across patches of bracken and heathland. Recommended spots to catch the sunrise include Rockford Common near Ringwood, as well as elevated spots such as Ibsley Common or Castle Hill. It's not just summer when the New Forest comes alive - its stunning silver birch trees means that autumn is an ideal time to visit and celebrate the seasons.
Enjoy the city before anyone wakes up and go for an early morning stroll to greet the day, with the airy expanse of the river Thames a perfect place to enjoy some solo sunrise viewing. Spectacular sunrises can be spotted in the stretch between London Bridge and City Hall, as the light bounces off the reflective, sky high buildings. Blackfriars bridge, with its myriad of views along the east and west of the city, is also a stunning spot. A little further down the river, the Chelsea Embankment provides spacious views of the river and the sun's vivid, streaky tones.
For those searching for a little more natural space, Primrose Hill, close to Regent's Park, makes for a beautiful space to watch the day begin. Whilst many favour the iconic Hampstead Heath, the vibrant colours, streaky sky and romantic views seen at Primrose Hill will definitely be worth the early start.
Words: Anna Jamieson