Early Bird Catches the Worm

Early Bird Catches the Worm

I watched a programme recently about the difference between larks and owls. Not the winged-variety but the human equivalents. You’ll probably know which camp you fall into depending on whether you jump out of bed first thing in the morning, ready to greet the day or tend to grunt, throw the alarm clock across the room and hide under the pillow.

I am definitely a lark. I love getting up early but am massively grumpy past about 9pm. I get why some people don’t like mornings: it’s dark, it’s cold, you’re tired, but think about what you are missing. Here are ten reasons why getting up early is ace:

Get on the roads at 5am and there’s no traffic. A few lorries, maybe, and some shift workers but it’s a really pleasant time to drive. The radio’s a bit rubbish but there’s no having to listen out for endless traffic reports identifying the latest jams, as you should get a pretty clear run.

You get to see the sunrise. It’s a wonderful feeling to see the dark gradually disappearing as the new day begins. It tends to coincide with the caffeine hit from your first coffee kicking in and makes even the dreariest section of motorway look pleasant.

There are no people… Call me anti-social but I love being the only person about. It’s a bit like the first scenes of a film I saw as a student, 28 Days Later, but without the zombies. You feel like the only person on Earth and it’s wonderfully liberating. It’s almost strange when the zombies (sorry tourists) start to emerge and you realise just how much you’ve benefitted from those precious few hours of alone time.

Anyone you do see is ridiculously cheerful. This is especially so on the fells, as your fellow larks greet you with an overly keen ‘morning’ but even in the service station en route you’ll find the van drivers and staff give you a knowing smile, as if you are all part of a secret club which those still in the land of nod don’t know exists.

There’s loads of parking. By loads I mean you’ll probably be the only car there and have the pick of the spaces. There’s something quite satisfying about securing the best car parking space and that smug feeling you get after your walk when you see the other drivers fighting over the last remaining (and rubbish) space.

Setting off early is your best chance of seeing wildlife. The last time I set off in the dark I saw a barn owl swoop past my car headlights, deer as the sun came up and a red squirrel on arrival. If you like your fauna, set your alarm for an hour earlier.

Coffee always tastes nicer at that time in the morning. I don’t know if it’s the caffeine or the warmth but get yourself an insulated cup and enjoy once you are sitting smugly in the best pitch in the car park surrounded by the hills. You’ll enjoy it so much more than looking at the other miserable folk in any generic coffee shop.

You get to have two breakfasts. I tend to wolf down some Weetabix, a yoghurt and some orange juice when I wake up but also toast a bagel and take some cream cheese to have with my coffee on arrival. For the ultimate two-breakfast experience, stop for a fry-up on the way. Those of a certain age will remember the Early Starter at Little Chef – something I really miss but probably not the best fuel for a hill day!

You’ll be back for lunch. I’ve done many a walk where I’ve arrived at 7am, been up a fell, back down for 11am and home for early afternoon in time to do some work. You realise just how much you can squeeze into a day when you put your mind to it.

You are bound to sleep well that night. I always have the best night’s sleep after a day in the fresh air. You’ll be knackered from getting up early, the driving and the physical exertion of dragging yourself up a mountain or two but boy is the reward worth it when you climb into the sack with aching limbs, a clear head and zzzzzzzzzzz.

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