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Seeing the northern lights in Scotland - is it possible?!

(25 Posts)
emmabrown123 Tue 17-Oct-17 14:35:18

Exactly this really!! Want to book a trip for an Xmas present and would love the possibility of seeing the northern lights as part of this. Having read about it I know it’s very hit and miss but wondered if anyone had managed it? And if so where?

Was hoping to go to Iceland but recent events (house move, 2 kids in childcare etc etc) means my budget is pretty small!

Failing this - any other ideas for short UK breaks that are a bit unusual?

Thanks all

AltogetherAndrews Tue 17-Oct-17 14:37:54

I live in Scotland and have seen them once in my lifetime, so I would say it's very much more miss than hit

ferriswheel Tue 17-Oct-17 14:48:57

Me too, but also been to Iceland and didn't see them there either.

ferriswheel Tue 17-Oct-17 14:48:58

Me too, but also been to Iceland and didn't see them there either.

museumum Tue 17-Oct-17 14:52:48

Yes it’s possible but really not predictable.
However a xmas trip to somewhere like the Cairngorms can be magical anyway and does have the best chance of dark sky or snow.

emmabrown123 Tue 17-Oct-17 18:22:32

Yes that’s what I was thinking - go somewhere that’d be a nice break anyway, and it’s an added bonus if we see them!

FadedRed Tue 17-Oct-17 18:28:13

If you go to the Lancaster University 'Aurorawatch' website and en their Flickr link on the left hand side of the webpage, there are photos of the aurora seen from Scotland.

We once saw a very faint aurora in Derbyshire, but it was a very high 'alert' that night, it was almost invisible to naked eye, but showed up as a distinct green and red glow on photos.

TrollTheRespawnJeremy Tue 17-Oct-17 18:30:38

I'd go to argyll. there's very little light pollution there so it's one of the best spots for star gazing/northern lights.

We often go to Portavadie which is a marina with restaurants and a spa with heated outdoor pool and hot tubs. Quite the thing when the rain is lashing down at you!

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boredofmyoldname Tue 17-Oct-17 18:30:40

My brother has some stunning photos of them from Lossiemouth in Moray.

He's seen them twice there.

BarchesterFlowers Tue 17-Oct-17 18:31:25

[[ Very possible]!

Piffpaffpoff Tue 17-Oct-17 18:31:39

Yes but it’s fairly rare. I have seen them twice and I’m 47! Once was in Aberdeenshire about 30 years ago and then I saw them from my back doorstep in the central belt last year which was amazing!

BarchesterFlowers Tue 17-Oct-17 18:31:44


Piffpaffpoff Tue 17-Oct-17 18:34:39

You really need to go as far north as possible, and at Christmas that means only about 6 or 7 hrs of daylight so you need a good hotel or cottage as you’ll be spending a lot of time in it!

BarchesterFlowers Tue 17-Oct-17 18:34:40

Must add that after costing an Iceland trip for half term, we are going to Mull, not a massive chance of seeing them but still, a chance!

A friend went to Iceland this year and saw nothing shock, nothing at all.

BarchesterFlowers Tue 17-Oct-17 18:38:22

Articles like this make me ever hopeful grin. I have spent a fair few holidays in that part of the world but have never gone at the right time of year - always summer (for the weather, ha).

RumAppleGinger Tue 17-Oct-17 19:03:33

I have seen them and photographed them at Loch Leven in Fife but if you want a real chance of seeing them head as for north as feasibly possible. I joined the Aurora Research Scotland Facebook page which is a really great community page full of helpful people who will let you know when activity is likely. Also not wishing to disappoint you but the couple of occasions I have seen them in Scotland it is nothing like some of the photos that you see that are taken using long exposure. To the naked eye it is often just a green tinge to the sky but when photographed look far more impressive.

If this is a bucket list kind of thing I would start saving to go to Iceland between October and February next year. It's always a roll of the dice as to whether you would see anything wherever you go but your chances are far better in Iceland.

Llamallann Tue 17-Oct-17 19:05:51

I’m pretty far north in scotland and yes, we do see them but it isn’t guaranteed. Your best bet is the west - Argyll - they get them much more regularly than even the north of Scotland and also have way less light pollution x

redannie118 Tue 17-Oct-17 19:11:46

Have you considered Northumberland? We have the largest dark sky park in Europe (525 miles square) and Kielder observatory has regular Aurora watch nights. You can also stay in the lodges on site. The aurora is also clearly visable along the northumberland coast- the photo below was taken on holy island which regularly has spectacular displays and is a magical place to stay

SpongeBobJudgeyPants Tue 17-Oct-17 19:15:01

It is apparently possible to see them from Kendal, Lake district, but that may have been a fluke siting IUSWIM.

LoniceraJaponica Sat 21-Oct-17 16:09:09

Like redannie118 I was also going to suggest Northumberland. MIL lives there and has seen them. We went to Lapland one February half term and were lucky enough to see the. Ironically they were also seen off the Northumberland coast that same week.

disahsterdahling Tue 14-Nov-17 20:41:31

I've seen them from south Wales (on 8th Nov 1991) so I'd hazard a guess that you'd have a reasonable chance in Scotland - what about Galloway Forest Park - that's a good dark sky area so if you're going to see them at all, that could be a good place.

OllyBJolly Tue 14-Nov-17 20:46:40

I have seen the aurora many times from Shetland. However, probably getting there isn't much cheaper than an Iceland trip!

Escapepeas Tue 14-Nov-17 20:50:47

We went to Shetland a couple of years ago and it was considerably cheaper than Iceland! We didn’t see the northern lights on our visit but apparently they were visible a couple of weeks afterwards.

ImAMarshmellow Tue 14-Nov-17 21:18:52

You can watch them at kielder forest I. Northumberland. They do aurora nights which are fab.

SmokeintheR00m Sat 02-Dec-17 05:10:01

Seen once in North Scotland. Saw them in Iceland in January, took several hours to appear and they danced, it was worth the wait

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