Finding Scotland's Northern Lights by Motorhome

Finding Scotland's Northern Lights by Motorhome

by Scottish Tourer March 01, 2021

Yes you don’t have to travel half way round the world to see the beauty of the Northern Lights. You just need to know where to go and when. These lights have fascinated the human race for years. Also known as the Aurora Borealis they provide natures very own theatre light experience. The reason we can see the lights in Scotland may surprise many, but Scotland is located on the same latitude as Stavanger in Norway and also Nunivak Island in Alaska which means that when you hire your Scottish Tourer campervan you may get an added bonus without the flights, time and stress. 

When is best to view the lights? 

The darker and clearer the night sky is, the better the chance you have of gaining a good view of the lights. The nights need to be cold, limited pollution and increased solar activity. This may also involve a wee bit of staying up to the middle of the night to experience the fantastic lights. What better way to do this than outside under your awning, BBQ on and toasting marshmallows. Just perhaps pack a nice blanket and a hat for the extra chilly evenings. The bonus being all our campervans come fully equipped with just this, all you need to provide here are the marshmallow and a blanket! 

What causes the lights?

The Aurora Borealis is named after the roman goddess of dawn (Aurora) and the North Wind (Boreas). It is caused by charged particles accelerated into the Earths upper atmosphere along the magnetic field lines. The sun drives the energy required for the magnificent display. The results of this are quite spectacular with different lights, shapes, patterns and colours. The different colours are as a result of the gas particles and when they collide. These different colours can last a few fleeting moments or for a few minutes. They are never quite the same but the result is always breath taking and certainly one which should be ticked off everyone’s list as a wonder to see with their own eyes. See if you can grab a picture and please share it with us on your return. 

Where is best to see the lights?

The Scottish Highlands are host to not only some of the best views and scenery but also some of the best viewing platforms for the Northern Lights. The best place to locate the lights are places with as much darkness and as little pollution as possible. 

  • The Isle of Skye offers a fabulous vantage point on the peninsula. Here you will find some wonderful places to camp and since Skye is home to no less than nine Dark Sky Discovery sites you wont be short of the darkness required to make a truly wonderful show. 
  • The Outer Herbrides in particular Uist appears to have a great view point for the lights. The islands here have very little light pollution so provide a wonderful area to stay for a holiday and see the miracle dancers in the sky. Here you will have the choice from Lewis, Harris, Uist, Benbecula , Barry and Eriskay. 
  • Orkney just off the North Coast is another great place to see the lights. If you head up to Dingleshowe beach or the Coast at Birsay you will get a great viewpoint and enjoy the peaceful noise of the water. 

A few tips to remember…

  • The Northern Lights need solar activity to be seen so without solar activity there will be no evidence of this wonder.
  • A clear sky is key to the Northern lights. They cannot be see if you cannot see the stars.
  • If you can head off the beaten track to places that have very little light pollution you have a much better chance of getting a clear viewing.
  • This effectively means away from street lights, cars and buildings. This is part of the reason Scotland’s highlands are such a vantage point.
  • Going back to the solar activity what you are looking for is anything but a full moon. The lights cannot be seen during a full moon or at least not well or clearly. 

What can we do to make the most of the Northern Lights?

It does take some determination to catch these lights in action. So if you can try and do some research as to when they may be viewable, There are apps available for this and the best viewpoints to see them from. If you aren’t into staying up late to see them set an alarm. Get wrapped up, grab a blanket, while you wait on the lights. Generally you don’t have to wait up to late as the lights are usually seen between 2100-0000 hrs. What better way to be able to be flexible than with one of our motorhomes?

You aren’t tied to one hotel peering out of a window. Get that awning out and embrace the chilly evenings with a hot chocolate - why not light the BBQ and make your own little fire pit and toast some meashmallow or make smores, in the hope of seeing something unique and special all whilst making memories. Once your ready for bed step back inside the cosy motorohome and snuggled in. 


Please visit our website to view our available campervans for hire 



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