Get up early to greet sun on the longest day in Cumbria

18 June 2017 3:53PM

FROM around 4.30am on Wednesday, the sun will rise on the summer solstice, the longest day of the year and the start of what we hope is a long, warm and sunny summer.

The solstice is likely to have been celebrated for at least 5,000 years at stone circles and other sites around the country

Cumbria has 50 stone circles, which may well have been meeting sites, drawing people from a wide area for seasonal feats, or served as places for religious ritual.

Castlerigg, at Keskwick, is the county’s most visited stone circle and commands impressive views of Skiddaw, Blencathra and Lonscale Fell.

The circle has 38 stones and was built around 3,000BC, making it one of the earliest to be built in the country.

In 1913 it was bought by a group including Canon Hardwicke Rawnsley, co-founder of the National Trust.

If you want to get up really early on Wednesday, June 21, you can watch the sun rise at Castlerigg atound 4.38am as part of a guided walk starting at 3am at the Moot Hall, Keswick, which is organised by Lake District Hotels .

There is a hot breakfast and a chance to watch a Druid summer solstice ritual and hear a talk about the stone circle.

Call 0800 840 1240 to find out more.

There is also a walk to Castlerigg, from Keswick Tourist Information Centre, at 10.30am on Tuesday, August 8.

See the website at to book a place.

Birkrigg, near Ulverston, has two concentric stone rings, the only structure of its kind in Cumbria.

On June 24 the Morecambe Bay Partnership, working with Cumbria Wildlife Trust, is holding one of its bracken clearance work parties at Birkrigg from 9.30am to 4pm.

All tools and equipment are provided and volunteer workers will be meeting to register at the Malt Kiln, Bardsea, for 9.30am.

If you want to get involved, send an email to Louise Martin on

On a clear day you can see Snaefell, the highest peak on the Isle of Man.

It is hosting a Woodstock Summer Solstice on Saturday, June 24, with music and a 1960s style buffet supper – and transport to the top Snaefell Mountain Railway.

Find our more on

The stone circle called Long Meg and Her Daughters, near Penrith, has a diameter of 350ft, making it one of the biggest in England.

The site dates to around 1500BC.

Long Meg is made of local red sandstone and her daughters from rhyolite granite.

Mayburgh Henge, near Penrith, is from the late Neolithic period, around 3,000 to 2,000BC.

An English Heritage display board notes: “It may once have served as a meeting place for a prehistoric community and was part of a complex of three henges in this area.

“Of the four standing stones, recorded in the centre in the 18 th century, only one remains.

“The banks are constructed of cobbles from the nearby River Lowther.”

Swinside, between Millom and Broughton, has 55 stones in a 90ft diameter circle.

In early times, the peak of Coniston Old Man may have been a place of veneration.

The Mannex Directory of Furness and Cartmel for 1882 notes: “On its apex are three heaps of stones known as the Old Man, his wife, and son, probably the remains of some Druidical or Saboean superstition.”

If you want to catch the sun rise in Barrow on Wednesday, take a look out at 4.40am. It will set at 9.50pm.

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