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Do no adjust your eyes

A spiritual awakening, a backdrop for lovers, or a neat lesson in the world of science: the Aurora Borealis is one of nature’s most beautiful imaginings. 22mins: Anna Millar

ot'i—‘ol the xe\en \\UlltlL‘l'\ ol' the \xorld. llle :\tll‘tll‘il

liorealix. or the Northern lightx ax the} are better

knoun. ripple into a league ol‘ their own. ;\nd \\llll the “inter nightx drauing in there‘x ne\er been a better time to pack up. head north and e\perience it lirxt hand. in all ilx el‘l’erxexcent glol‘}.

l-or thoxe unl'amiliar \xilh the phenomenon. here‘x a laxter. During the autumn monthx lthough it'x alxo prominent in xpringl the xun xendx out particlex into the gala\_\. When the} collide \\ith the earlHK atmoxphere. it'x uxuall_\ near the magnetic north. cauxing an auexome di\l‘la_\ ill lightx namel} the Aurora Borealix. The midnight xkiex light tip \xith heautil'ul xhadex ol' aqua. greenx and pale hluex that undulate hack and l'orth. l‘iolklore ahountlx \xith e\p|anationx ol the originx ol‘ the xpellhinding celextial lightx. In ancient timex the ell'ecl \xax l'eared ax a prediction ol‘ doom. Superxtitionx axide. thix goex xome \\a_\ lo l‘ealixing the ellect that the a\\exonle light \lltl\\ hax on lhoxe that e\perience it.

You'd be l'orgi\cn tor thinking .v\l\erdeen. lmernexx and 'l‘hurxo limher lo\\ on the aphrtxlixiac‘x lmrometer. But it'x the quiet onex )ou'w got to \\atch. .\lan) couplex llock to lind a place in the xurrounding areax to catch a glimpxe ol the nighttime xrwctacular. or ax the Scolx call it. ‘lhe men} dancerx‘. But the xtomping groundx proper are the Shetlandx. Stornoua} and the xurrounding areax. .-\nd \xhile a xighting ol the aurora ix ne\ er guaranteed. the ahxence ol~ xlreetlightx and the xerene xurroundx. alongxide a xtunning dixpla} ol xtarx. make thix a muxt lor aurora llo\ icex.

So he hack. rela\ and enio} the light xllim ol‘ the -\ear. We pick out the hext \antage pointx. xo _\ou don't lime to.

Where to stay

there ix a range ol holelx. Bth and xell-catering accommodation a\ailah|e at \\\\\\.\ ixitxcotlandcom. But it' _\ou‘re hoping to indulge )titir' hoho rootx. \xh} not pack


a ruckxack (replete \xith lire lighterx and \inol and head north to one ol thcxe “ell-placed xpotx:


'l'he Slornoua) Backpackerx lloxtel tlllh'Sl 703 033) ix li\e minutex \xalk lrom the lerr} and hux xtalion. Male and lemale dormitoriex xleep xi\. \xhile lamiI} roomx xleep l'our. Bedding ix pro\ ided and it'x open all )c'ar round. l’ricex xtait lrom ax little ax L'lll. l-tnther do“ n the road ix the Slornoua} Stll'li llotlxe llllh’Sl 705363) \\ltlc‘h has l5 lX‘tlx. l’ricex xlalt at around L'll. For xomething a little dil‘l‘erenl check out the mmlernixed l'ormer xchool at Kerxhader llllh’Sl 880230) on the xouth xide ol l.och lirixort. xi\ milex from the main ’l‘arher'l to Stornoxxa} road. Turn olliiuxl xoulh ol Ballalan lmap relerence: \B 342213). The building hax l-l hedx and ix open all _\'ear round. The (ialxon l‘arm Btlnkliouxe t()l XSI Kill 402) at South (ialxon (\c'xxl ix on a coaxtal road ten milex lrom the Butt ol l.e\\ix. Open all war. it xleepx eight. l’ricex xtart around £10.


'l‘he liilean l‘raoieh (‘amp Site llllh’Sl 7|(l5ll-ll at North Shauhoxt ix an acre ol~ ground near the local rnuxeum. lt coxtx around £4 £7.50 a day and tentx. car‘ax'anx and motorhomex are uelcome. .-\lternati\el_\. the l.a.\adale llolida) l’ark llllh’il 7(l(i 966 or ()lHSl 703 33-“ ix 2.5 acrex ol ground \\llll xpace l'or 43 pitchex. Located l5 milex l'rom Stornoua} it alxo hax hoxtel acctimmixlation.

Useful camping websites

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The word on the street

I NEWS JUST IN. AS millions of merry Brits jet off for their autumn/ winter breaks. UK research. courtesy of Travelodge. has revealed that Scottish travellers are missing out on beauty and culture on their own doorsteps. It seems more intrepid travellers are heading to Barcelona than Bath (pictured below). One of the top factors Scottish people consider when deciding where to go on holiday is culture: 89% have never visited Liverpool - the European City of Culture for 2008 preferring to wander the streets of Paris than hang out down ‘Pool way. Hardly a shocker.

I CLOSER l() NOW IN Perthshire. check out Autumn Gold With Scotland's Adventure l’z Sf} Choose from an array of activates; irirtlutlirig cant/oiling, Spherrnq, white water rafting. titer bugging; and more Hi the surrounderrg areas, Call 01738 (3279558 for full (lelétllfi.

I FURTHER AFIELD - why not learn to dive in some of the clearest waters in the world? Koh Tao is one of the best unspoilt paradise islands that Thailand has to offer. STA is asking you to plunge in with a sweet £382 offer to Bangkok. Call 0870 160 6070 or check out for full details.

I AND FINALLY A SMALl gripe. Last minute holidays are always a plan iOr the more tight-listed. disorganiscd or Spontaneous But yOur average punter must Surely dOuble the price of their hottday bloody waiting to get comected to an operator. Somebody. somewhere get it sorted. Please.

Bath: quieter than Barcelona