Cissbury Sunrise, Ponies and All !

It's all too easy to forget about the stunning beauty that is right on your doorstep. You tend to take things for granted, not stopping to appreciate and I mean really appreciate what you see every day.

Lone tree on Cissbury Hill at Sunrise

For me, Cissbury Hill was one such place. I can see it from my home, I ride my mountain bike over it on almost every trip. It's my gateway to the South Downs. But I almost always see it as a place to get past before the real adventure begins.

The recent COVID-19 lockdown has certainly curtailed my exploring looking for new locations to shoot and it has really focussed my attention on my local area. So this time rather than Cissbury simply flashing past as I entered the South Downs National Park it was my final and only destination.

Lone tree and bench on Cissbury Hill at Sunrise
Vantage Point

Another 4.45 am alarm call saw me on my way. Having climbed to the top of the hill in the dark I began to explore the summit. Cissbury Hill was an old Iron Age fort dating back to 400BC and was used as a defensive position for around 300 years. These days its mainly chalk grassland, some trees, and bracken and thanks to the National Trust a herd of wild ponies.

On the North-Eastern side of the fort is a lone tree with a slightly dilapidated bench beneath it. I decided this would be my focal point. With Devil's Dyke rising in the distance it would provide the perfect subject matter for this series of images. The solitary tree represented the self-isolation that was being imposed on the whole country. The dawning of a new day seemed very much like the hope we were all feeling that this crisis would soon be over and we could return to normality.

Daybreak at Cissbury Hill
A New Day Dawns

As the sun rose I was treated to an amazing kaleidoscope of colours. Blues and turquoise gave way to rich oranges and golds as the sun rose above the horizon, still shielded at that point by Devil's Dyke. As the sun continued to rise a few of the equine inhabitants of the hill began making their way to their morning grazing spot.

I moved round to place the sun directly behind the lone tree, silhouetting perfectly against the golden light. The ponies continued their breakfast oblivious of both my presence and the global crisis that was consuming humanity at this time.

Wild ponies grazing on Cissbury Hill at Sunrise
Nature Recovers

During the COVID-19 crisis, I will be selling limited edition fine art prints of the images taken during these unusual times. £10 from each print will be donated to NHS Charities Together to assist in caring for those affected the most by this terrible virus. Please click on the Prints link in the menu above to see the current selection of prints available.


Nikon D500

Nikon 10-24mm @ 19mm

1/25 sec @ f11

ISO 100

Lee .9 Hard Grad Filter

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