This year I went with my walking group to watch the sunrise on the day of the summer solstice (June 21).
We had chosen Badbury Rings, the iron age hill fort between Blandford and Wimborne. For only a limited amount of walking uphill you get a very fine, uninterrupted view over the surrounding landscape from the ramparts of the hill fort.
It was an early start but we were rewarded with a glorious, clear sunrise. After that, a walk around the rings followed by coffee and cake.
Not ones to do things by halves, we had also shown up to watch the sun set on the first half of the year – a very beautiful sunset dramatically intensified by the layers of cloud.
The Summer Solstice marks the end of spring and the start of summer. In the norther hemisphere it falls on June 21.
It occurs when the Earth’s geographical pole on either the northern or southern hemisphere becomes most inclined towards the Sun. When the Summer Solstice takes place in the northern hemisphere, the Sun will reach its highest possible point.
As a result, the day on which the summer solstice falls will have the longest period of daylight of the year.
So – the longest day. This handy graphic from the Met Office gives the lowdown:
Badbury Rings is now owned by the National Trust. It is free to visit but there is a car parking charge (free to members).
The turn off for Badbury Rings is half way along the magnificent avenue of beech trees planted by William John Bankes, who inherited Kingston Lacy in 1835.
The avenue was a birthday gift to William John’s mother, Frances, and there were 365 trees on one side of the road for each day of the year and 366 on the other, for a leap year.