Ben Lawers Under A Flower Moon

Another moon mission, another sensational sunrise


Alan Rowan

This was the Flower Moon, and I was heading for Ben Lawers, and this time it was being filmed for BBC Scotland’s Landward.

It seemed a fitting moon/mountain match-up; the Ben Lawers national nature reserve contains the most celebrated collection of rare mountain plants in Britain. All we needed was a perfect night.

It looked promising as I headed along Loch Tay. The sun was going down in an explosion of pastel pinks and oranges, the fall-out washing over the water. A couple of hours later, and the moon was in full control. The Flower Moon is said to be the brightest of the year and this one was trying hard to live up to that reputation.

A short moonlight scene-setter in the car park with presenter Dougie Vipond, and then we were off towards the black ridge ahead.

The walk up to Ben Lawers goes over another Munro, Beinn Ghlas, and takes around two and a half hours. When you’re with a film crew, though, that time stretches out! We had something like four hours to reach the Lawers summit for the sunrise at 4.38am – we had to make sure we didn’t miss the moment.


Chasing the sunrise


We had a couple of filming stops before Beinn Ghlas, then one shortly after on the ridge. The morning glow was beginning on the horizon behind Ben Lawers, but the pulsing moon still dominating the skies behind us. Our remaining time had shrunk dramatically. How long to the summit? Forty minutes. How long do we have until sunrise? Forty minutes.

The slight chill we had felt at the last stop was burned off immediately on the non-stop push up the steep final slope. We arrived with five minutes to spare.

Dougie and I took our positions at the cairn. We caught the first glimpse of burning red on the horizon and watched as the sun came up. It changed from red to deep gold to yellow to brilliant white, every stunning second caught on film.


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