From heralding a good harvest to predicting war and famine, and from a fearsome battle between fire-breathing dragons to the lights marking the way to the celestial world, the natural phenomenon that we call ‘Aurora Borealis’ or the ‘Northern Lights’ has baffled and entranced us mere mortals, in equal measures, for thousands of years.
The modern scientific explanation – the interaction of electronically charged particles in our atmosphere – may be a little basic when compared to the idea of the spirits of the departed playing a heavenly game of football with a walrus skull (check out the aurorazone for a great overview of all the myths!) but one fact is undeniable. The best place to see ‘Aurora Borealis’ is from a low-lying, north-facing vantage point with little or light pollution. Not only do the Orkney Islands fit the bill very nicely – but October, when the seasons begin to change and the long dark nights return, is a great month to go in search of enlightenment in our dark island skies. And Orkney even has its own name for the lights – the ‘Merrie Dancers’.
Orkney.com has a great online guide and recommends the Brough of Birsay, Inganess Bay, the Ring of Brodgar and Wideford Hill as well as Broch of Gurness (a favourite of photographer, Kendra Towns) as good vantage points. They recommend wrapping up warmly and taking a flask with a hot drink, so we thought we’d pitch in with some suggestions to add a little Highland Park magic to your night under the stars.
Temperatures drop sharply as the evening turns to night, so try layering one of our Long-sleeve t-shirts under a Fleece-lined hoodie or adding a Scandi winter jacket (Men’s and Women’s styles both available) to really keep the cold out. And don’t forget to keep your head warm too with our super woolly Beanie hat. The Hunter’s flask is just the thing for tea, coffee, soup or even our rather special hot chocolate (just leave out the marshmallows, they don’t travel well!) – and with four cups, it’s made for sharing.