Are the Northern Lights on your travel bucket list?
You’ll be pleased to know you can see them without jetting off abroad.
During the coronavirus pandemic, you can stay local by catching a glimpse of the polar lights in the UK.
There are several hotspots where the stunning phenomenon is more likely to occur.
Scots are the luckiest because they are the closest Brits to the North Pole – but it’s possible to see the Northern Lights in Wales, England and Northern Ireland too.
Here are some places to look out for the Aurora Borealis this winter…
Scotland lies on the same latitude as Stavanger in Norway and Nunivak Island in Alaska, which is why you have a good chance of seeing the Northern Lights there.
Autumn and winter is the best seasons to spot the “Mirrie Dancers”.
This is because nights are colder and darker, which are optimum conditions for spotting solar activity.
According to Visit Scotland, the following locations are great for seeing the polar lights…
- Shetland, Orkney and Caithness (e.g. 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 (e.g. Applecross, Lochinver, north of Ullapool)
- The Cairngorms
- Galloway Forest Park – the only Dark Sky Park in Scotland
- Rannoch Moor and Perthshire
- Angus and the coast of Fife (e.g. St Andrews)
- Calton Hill or Arthur’s Seat in Edinburgh
The more North you are, the increased likelihood you have of seeing the polar lights.
It’s also important to choose a location with little light pollution.
This makes the gorgeous phenomenon more visible in the dark sky.
According to the National Trust, Derwentwater, Cumbria is a good place to consider.
At the “Queen of the Lakes” you can occasionally see the Aurora Borealis appear over the water.
Nestled in Northumberland International Dark Sky Park is Sycamore Gap in Hadrian’s Wall.
And if you look up, you’ll see Europe’s largest area of protected night sky.
It’s equally as good for spotting Northern Lights as it is for stargazing.
Other English hotspots include North Norfolk as the phenomenon was spotted in Cley recently.
According to the WWF, the Antrim coastline is a great place to go searching for the polar lights.
This is because it boasts a breathtaking view of the northern horizon over the Malin Sea.
There are plenty of places for photo opportunities here too.
From the rock formations at Giant’s Causeway to Dunluce Castle, the possibilities are endless.
Northern Lights sightings are rare in Wales – but they are still possible.
In recent years, the Aurora Borealis have been spotted above the Brecon Beacons and Anglesey.
These instances tend to occur after a strong geomagnetic event so aren’t as common as we’d like.
It’s worth adding that anyone in Tiers 3 and 4 is advised not to travel at this time.
For the latest advice on holidays, visit the gov.uk website.
You can also use this website to track when the best time to go Northern Lights spotting is.
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