On recent trips up Longridge Fell, I came across a new, at least to me, path deep in the trees west of the highest point. I noticed, at the end of this narrow corridor, light coming from the west. I calculated that if I was there as the sun was setting, the light would be concentrated through that point. That was the plan.
So today, after watching another farcical Prime Minister’s Question Time, I parked up on Jeffrey Hill just after three pm. The sun was already low, and the temperature was dropping. I hurried up the drying path towards the trees leading to the trig point. The decorated Xmas tree had been stripped of tinsel and baubles. Strangely, the tree with more environmental decorations hadn’t, I removed the remaining cardboard stars, now considered as litter. I digress.
After visiting the top, I took the damp track into the forest and diverted onto the ‘new’ path. All was gloom as I walked deeper into the trees. It was obvious that I had missed the ideal time, and the sun was setting past my portal. I suspect that two weeks ago would have been the optimum for the sun shining along the corridor of trees. There is no way back, I will have to wait till next year to test my theory.
In the past I have visited places in the world where the juxtaposition of some physical feature with the sun, moon or stars, at various times of the year has had some significance for the local populace. Our forbearers took a keen interest in astronomy. They derived a cyclical calendar predicting changes in the seasons, which they connected to their agricultural practises and pagan beliefs. Having a fixed physical point in the natural landscape helped them identify the passing of the year and its recurrence. A hole in a rock on the hillside or a nick in the skyline gave some sense of time. It was then only a short step to create a megalith, sundial or more complicated celestial instruments and then observatories. This is all a little farfetched from my little pathway lining up with the setting sun.