THERE is a tradition with many hill walkers of climbing a hill to catch the glories of a midsummer sunrise.
At a time when most are heading home after a day in the hills, some walkers can be seen getting out of their cars and heading upwards into the summer twilight, only to return in the morning, tired but happy after a sleepless night on the tops.
Some will take time off midweek, while others settle for the weekend before or after, but the spectacle can be a marvellous one whichever date is chosen – assuming Scotland’s notoriously fickle weather plays ball.
Alan Rowan, the ‘Midnight Mountaineer’, has teamed up with Mountaineering Scotland to offer some advice to walkers contemplating the midsummer nightshift, when the hours of actual darkness are very short.
Five tips on Midnight Mountaineering
1 - Around midsummer, twilight levels can last for most of the night. Pick warm, settled, clear weather to take advantage of this. Avoid nights of low cloud, wind or rain. Apart from safety issues, this is meant to be fun!
2 - Dress well. It may be midsummer, the days may be hot, but on a cloudless night in the mountains the temperature can drop considerably, so make sure you have plenty of warm clothes – and waterproofs.
3 - Don’t go alone. There is safety in numbers as well as comfort – the quiet stillness, interspersed with the sounds of night on a mountain, increase the feeling of solitude and can be unnerving at first.
4 - It may seem obvious but even at midsummer there will be a couple of hours when you really need some extra illumination. So take a torch. In fact take two, so that you have a spare in an emergency.
5 - Stick to the path. You might see what looks like a shortcut, but even well-made paths can be hard to find again in the dark once you’ve stepped off them.
Read more about night-time hill walking on the Mountaineering Scotland website at www.mountaineering.scot/activities/hillwalking/dusktodawn
Read about the adventures of author and ‘Midnight Mountaineer’ Alan Rowan at www.munromoonwalker.com
Mountaineering Scotland is the only recognised representative organisation for hill walkers, climbers and ski-tourers who live in Scotland or who enjoy Scotland’s mountains.
It has over 14,000 members representing hill walkers, climbers and mountaineers, funded through a combination of membership subscriptions, non-governmental grants and investment from sportscotland, which supports public initiatives and services in mountain safety, mountain training and the development and promotion of mountaineering activities.