Queen’s Jubilee Beacon Lighting in Lake District

IMG 80834 Queens Jubilee Beacon Lighting in Lake District

This is no emergency flare, it’s part of a celebration of 60 years of service. On Catbells, Keswick

IMG 4666 1123 Queens Jubilee Beacon Lighting in Lake DistrictOn the day after we help try and set a world record for the longest street party as part of The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations, we hike up Catbells Keswick to watch one of over 4000 beacons being lit around the Commonwealth. It’s not the highest in England; that honour goes to the nearby Scafell Pike. And compared to the line of 60 being lit along Hadrian’s Wall, it’s a solitary light in the darkness. But it is a memorable, and very Cumbrian way to mark a unique and royal moment in time. And tick off a Wainwright! 

Queen’s Jubilee Beacon: on Catbells Keswick

IMG 80323 Queens Jubilee Beacon Lighting in Lake District

8pm and we make a plan. To plant flags on Catbells. And see the beacon being lit.

No one sings the national anthem. There are no crowds waving flags or singing along to pop songs. The pinprick street lights of Keswick are too far to light our way as we round the peak of the mountain. But there are more people enjoying the dusk of Catbells than we thought. Perhaps sixty people; some huddled under a union jack blanket, others munching on muesli bars, or chucking their dog a plastic toy. The last of the sun sets. And then, high on a hill above us, a tiny light comes on. Everyone stands to look.

IMG 25993 Queens Jubilee Beacon Lighting in Lake District

9pm. As the sun sets we wave and weave our way up to the summit.

Look, a beacon

“It’s Binsey. The beacon’s been lit on Binsey!” And then just as suddenly, it seems to go out. The kids scour the landscape looking for Scafell Pike, where one of the last beacons will be lit before The Queen ignites the last with her crystal ball. But what they see instead is a sliver of red light, slowly ascending between two mountains. Soon it has swelled into a full, red ball. The moon has come to oversee the Jubilee proceedings.

IMG 80673 Queens Jubilee Beacon Lighting in Lake District

10pm. The crowd looks beyond Keswick to Binsey as a beacon is lit in the distance

The Lake District towns have spent the weekend celebrating the Jubilee with fayres, street parties and local events. Pints have been drunk and barbecued food consumed. But what the Lake District does best is the lakes and peaks. And here, above Keswick, lakes and peaks and people have come together to mark a moment in a quiet, reflective way.

IMG 80733 Queens Jubilee Beacon Lighting in Lake District

Watching and waiting on Catbells. Watches are checked and the countdown begins.

Countdown

There is some business on the walkie talkies, and a countdown from ten starts.

“Ten, nine, eight,” The crowd draws back as a guy in a red jacket pours petrol onto a heap of wood in a metal grate.

“Seven,six, five,” The dogs pause and drop their toys, sensing the tension as Keswick seems to grow stiller in the distance. A young person lights a match.

IMG 80753 Queens Jubilee Beacon Lighting in Lake District

10.10pm. The lighter works! Stand back.

“Four, three, two, one,”

Whoosh. Two Cadets and two Queen’s Scouts bring the beacon to life. Due to public interest, the planned 2012 Diamond Jubilee beacons being lit across the commonwealth have become more than 4000, and one of them is here. Hundreds of camera flashes go off in the distance as the people gathered on the beach in Keswick watch us walk towards the light.

IMG 80773 Queens Jubilee Beacon Lighting in Lake District

Catbells is alight

Under the moon

“When people ask where I was on the Jubilee, I’ll always tell them I was next to the moon on Catbells,” says Cameron.

IMG 80923 Queens Jubilee Beacon Lighting in Lake District

10.15pm Full moon and beacon illuminate Catbells.

Still no one sings the national anthem. But Cameron’s moon glows brighter and people’s faces are illuminated by light and warmth of The Queen and her fire.

IMG 80893 Queens Jubilee Beacon Lighting in Lake District

10.25pm. Fire lit, the firelighters warm themselves and wait for The Queen to do her bit.

The Queen does her bit

Almost half an hour later, on a scout’s i-phone, we watch the Queen light her own beacon, the final in the sequence. She doesn’t chuck petrol on the fire, hers is done in a rather more high tech fashion, but no doubt the same moon witnesses the event.

IMG 80983 Queens Jubilee Beacon Lighting in Lake District

10.30pm. And the people join in too. No camp fire songs. Not even a national anthem!

Our day is nearly done; the kids are fading. We climb down towards Keswick in the moonlight; its reflection spreading across the surface of Derwentwater below. Hannah has never been on a night hike up and down a mountain before. She holds her breath as her feet slide gently in the scree.

IMG 81062 Queens Jubilee Beacon Lighting in Lake District

11.30pm. Mission accomplished, we light our own beacons and head home to bed.

 

Have you ever done an outdoor adventure to mark a special moment? We’d love to hear what you did.
Ad Cap Season Creative 227 Queens Jubilee Beacon Lighting in Lake DistrictThis post is part of our Family Adventure Capital Season. We’re exploring different ways families can adventure together in and around Cumbria, sharing ideas and inspiration to encourage families to get out, get active and adventure together.

Got some ideas for things we should try? Let us know.

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Kirstie is the Editor of The Family Adventure Project. A professional writer, she's the creative and journalistic force behind many of the stories and features published here. She's a co-founder and co-director of the project, the misadventure magnet part of the partnership and a busy mum.

9 Responses to “Queen’s Jubilee Beacon Lighting in Lake District” Subscribe

  1. Cheyenne June 5, 2012 at 12:59 pm #

    What a fun experience…….you will always remember it.

  2. Fives Onthefly June 5, 2012 at 1:30 pm #

    This reminds me of one of my favorite scenes from the Lord of the Rings movies when they light the beacons between Rohan and Gondor. It must been amazing to be a part of!

  3. Jessica June 8, 2012 at 3:46 pm #

    What a great way to be a part of the Jubilee!

  4. Lisa @ Gone With The Family June 8, 2012 at 9:49 pm #

    Sounds like a much more fun way to celebrate the Jubilee than lost among the crowds in London!

  5. Lisa June 9, 2012 at 12:21 am #

    I think that is a very special way to be part of the Jubilee. It looked relaxing and memorable.

  6. Becca @ R We There Yet Mom? June 9, 2012 at 9:34 pm #

    How cool!!! Thank you for the peek into how others in England are celebrating the Queen’s Jubilee – I loved hearing & seeing all about it.

    And thanks for linking up – I just love hearing your adventures each week!

    • Ruth June 18, 2012 at 5:04 am #

      Thanks

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