Breath taking Experiences in Scotland: Aurora Borealis
You drive up through country roads, confused and puzzled as to where you are on the map and where it is you’re headed. All the while constantly looking up, to the darkness, anxious at every little cloud, your eyes peering through to see the stars. Your route can take you many places but the route you’re on is in search of one thing. One of nature’s most treasured bounties. As you reach your destination, far away from the light polluting cities and instead in the quiet and dark corners of the north, you look up and wait. Waiting is always the hardest part because what you’re waiting for isn’t always guaranteed. But the wait is always worth it. For when that first spectacular stream of green cuts its way across the dark sky you are transported away from Earth and all of your Earthly thoughts. In that moment you can see the universe reaching out to touch you.
Aurora Borealis or the Northern Lights as they are more commonly called is the result of solar rays which have travelled from the heart of the Sun, across the expanse of space, and before your eyes they collide with magnetic particles in the Earth’s upper atmosphere. It truly is one of the most humbling and awe-inspiring sites in nature. The best part? You can see them right here in Scotland. You may have thought that to have seen nature’s most theatrical light show that you would have had to have visited more northern territories such as Iceland and Northern Scandinavia but you would have been wrong. Northern Scotland shares the same latitude as many other more renowned places that are often associated with the Aurora Borealis such as Stavenger in Norway or even Nunivak Island in Alaska.
You also don’t have to travel off of Scotland’s main land to see the lights, on a clear and dark night they have been known to be visible from The Cairngorms, Galloway Forest Park (the only dark sky park in Scotland!) as well as Rannoch Moor in Perthshire. You could also travel by boat to Scotland’s Outer Hebrides as well as the Orkney and Shetland Isles to see this wonder of the world. What better way to spend a night in Scotland, snugly wrapped up in a VW Campervan and gazing up as flashes of green illuminate the night sky in an alien glow.
The Northern Lights are just one of many great examples of what there is to see in Scotland but there aren’t too many countries in the world who can boast this as one of their natural attractions. Please check below for the full list of where to see the Northern Lights so you can plan your route across Scotland accordingly.
Shetland, Orkney and Caithness (eg. Noss Head, Wick)
Aberdeenshire and the Moray Coast (eg. Nairn, Portknockie, Cairn o’ Mount)
Lewis, Harris and the most northerly tip of Skye
The far north west of Scotland (eg. Applecross, Lochinver, north of Ullapool)
Galloway Forest Park – the only Dark Sky Park in Scotland!
Rannoch Moor and Perthshire
Angus and the coast of Fife (eg. St Andrews)
Calton Hill or Arthur’s Seat in Edinburgh (if the aurora is really strong)