The Dolmen

It began with the alarm going off at 4.00 in the morning. It took a few seconds for me to realise that this wasn’t our home alarm, so I fumbled around in search of the button to silence it. Then I realised I was in a farmhouse on the North Cornish coast and I had plans to drive down near Land’s End to photograph an ancient burial chamber at sunrise. I was suffering from a bad cold and the last thing I wanted to do was drag myself out of bed and drive for an hour in the dark. Nevertheless, I got up, had a wash, got dressed and had something to drink. I tried one of the biscuits I had brought down for early starts like this, but it grated on my sore throat, so I decided to give breakfast a miss.

My next problem was finding my way out of the B&B and into the parking area in the pitch dark. I made it to the car safely, but then I realised that some other guests must have arrived the previous night and blocked me in. I suppose they assumed we would all be down for breakfast at the same time and could resolve any difficulties then. At 4.30 a.m. there were still over three hours to go, but I didn’t have any time to spare. I sat in the car wondering how they might feel about me doing a 19 point turn, when all of a sudden another car pulled in behind. I couldn’t believe my luck! The farmer’s son had just got back from a night shift and with a better idea of the yard, I was more than happy for him to reverse our car into the lane. I thanked him profusely before turning on the Satnav and following the directions.

It wasn’t a pretty drive – or not that I could make out in the darkness. I went through a couple of larger towns and circled the industrial estates before finally arriving on the edge of a small village. I turned up a narrow country lane and continued for a few minutes before I heard the familiar words, “you have reached your destination”. Fortunately there was a small passing place where I parked and sat listening to the radio until I could see a small amount of light in the Eastern sky. The Satnav had been spot on, because as I pulled my gear from the passenger seat and locked up, I turned around to see a small stile in the hedge and not far behind, the silhouettes of the standing stones I had come to see. I only had to walk a few yards, set up the tripod and there I stayed until there was enough light to make a start.

The sun must have risen a while ago, but it kept playing hide and seek behind a low layer of cloud. Every time I thought it would break over the top, the cloud had moved over a tad and was somehow a little higher in the sky. I distinctly remember getting backache from bending down all the time to see if I was about to get lucky. I made a mental note to raise the tripod to eye level next time, but sometimes you just need a lower perspective. Eventually my patience was rewarded as you can see in the photograph featured above. I packed up and set off for my next destination with a sore throat and the sniffles, but somehow I felt on top of the world.

Lanyon Quoit

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