Petit Plémont

Full moon on Friday night, and after some equivocation I decided to spend the night at the Petit Plémont headland. Equivocation was prompted by the weather, which was nowhere near as clement as my previous full moon escapade. Still, I decided to risk it. Out on the headland there was a strong NW wind blowing, and the waves were crashing mightily on the rocks below the cliffs, with the tide only just past high. The sunset remained stubbornly hidden by a bank of clouds, although the clouds themselves provided their own drama.

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Sunset in the direction of Guernsey. My first camp spot was on the top of the cliffs to the left

I found a nice spot nearly on the top of the headland, and settled down for the night.

My reveries were interrupted a couple of hours later by a most unwelcome sound – raindrops pattering on my sleeping bag. There followed a comedic scene as I climbed out of my sleeping bag, got dressed, packed my stuff away, and marched off down the hill carrying camera gear, rucsac and my sleeping mat, the latter flapping in the wind. All of this in the dark of course. I stumbled around looking for alternative “accommodation”, and eventually found my way to the German bunker emplacements just below the car park. Then the rain stopped. Not hugely fancying the bunker as a bedroom, I stumbled around some more trying to find a level spot nearby, so that I could get back into the bunker should more rain arrive. Finally I found a patch of heather that was to my liking, and settled down again. Shortly after it started to rain. With weary resignation I returned to the bunker, now with only an hour or so to go until daybreak.

Ah, but what a daybreak! I was up shortly after 4.00, and looking out towards the lightening sky I saw an atmospheric phenomenon that I’ve never definitively witnessed before: noctilucent clouds.

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The lights on the horizon are on the French coast

They appear as thin, but very bright wispy trails rising up from the horizon. I particularly like the way that they appear to form wrinkles in the solid surface of the sky. Stunning. Meanwhile, in the opposite direction the full moon – that had been hidden for most of the night – was setting behind the cliffs over Plémont.

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Sometimes there is a gorgeous post sunrise light, but on this occasion the magic dissolved quickly. A sudden burst of orange, some spectacular angel fingers, and everything was normal.

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I spent a little time photographing a German tunnel, equipped with railway track that enabled a searchlight to be moved between two different positions.

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The view from the end of the German tunnel, towards the rising sun
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Almost horizontal light streaming into the German tunnel, railway tracks still present

After that I decided to head home, but as it turned out there was one more moment of magic to come. As I climbed back up to the car, a rainbow appeared over the sea out towards Guernsey. A shaft of sunlight poured down onto the point at Grosnez.

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Steadily it marched towards me. Eventually I could see right through the rainbow to the sea behind. In a final rush it came almost within touching distance, before the rain started to spatter and snuffed it out. It was a satisfying end to what had at times during the night been a distinctly wobbly experience.

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