My route is a familiar one - I have no specific location to head for but it usually is to one of two places. The dark and sunken lanes to the west or the ridge to the east. Both are as good as each other and offer a different vista so I just go where my boots take me.
I do prefer the route westwards. The birdsong is louder here and in the deep lanes, made famous by Geoffrey Household in his superb book Rogue Male, it's easy for my mind to wander. All my best plans and lists are made in these early dawn moments and usually they are coupled by some of my most memorable wildlife spots. It's that moment at the edge of night and day when nocturnals, like Household's hero, are returning back to their hole.
Parts of this route were undoubtedly carved by Household himself. The Monarchs Way passes the rear of our house and our hero, when on the run, may have passed here when returning from Eggardon to the deep and hollow lanes west.
The loudest bird at this hour is most definitely the blackbird, its song reverberates in deep lanes thirty feet below where he sings - there is not an ounce of melancholy in these lanes with such a tuneful and melodic soundtrack, it puts an extra spring in my step.
I time my arrival at a high point as the first proper light arrives, a swig from my water flask, maybe an apple and I continue....just giving myself enough time to still get home before anyone else is about and the joy of sipping my first mug of tea watching the final moments of the day waking up whilst most of the town still sleeps.