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      Best Spots to Go Stargazing in Scotland

      By Meike van Krimpen, Content Editor
      More by Meike

      Scotland and its Dark Skies

      It’s easy to go stargazing in Scotland. Just walk a wee bit away from a populated lit up area and you’ll be impressed with how many stars you can see with the naked eye. 

      The nights over autumn and winter are very long in Scotland, with the sunrise late in the morning and sun setting early in the evening. Furthermore, there are many sparsely populated rural areas in Scotland, meaning that there is minimal light pollution, especially further up north. These two things make Scotland a prime destination for dark skies and stargazing. On a clear night, you’ll see thousands upon thousands of twinkling lights stargazing in Scotland. At the right location and in the right conditions, you may even see the Milky Way or the Northern lights.

      1. Tomintoul & Glenlivet

       

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      Tomintoul and the Glenlivet Estate make up the official Dark Sky Park in the Cairngorms. It’s one of the areas in the Cairngorms National Park with the least amount of light pollution and is accessible to get to. Going for a walk after dark in the designated dark sky area will leave you breathless. The sheer number and the brilliance of the stars visible is unimaginably beautiful. There are 3 designated dark discovery sites within the area defined as Dark Sky Park, find them here.

      There are various good spots in the Cairngorms National Park to go stargazing. Other go-to sites include the Cairngorm Mountain Carpark, the Glen Tanar Estate, Braemar, Abernethy Forest, and Glenshee.

      We head to the Cairngorms on several of our adventure holidays, check out your options here.

      2. Luskentyre Beach

       

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      This beach is known for its almost tropical azure waters and swathes of white sand beach. However, Luskentyre is also an incredible destination at night. It’s one of those magical places where you can see the Milky Way with the naked eye and the Northern lights if you’re lucky. The remote island location ensures that there is absolutely no light pollution to compete with. For those interested, a Dark Skies Festival takes place in Stornoway every February.

      We also suggest you visit the Callanish Stones at night for a remarkable experience, or Gallan Head, Tolsta Beach, Hushinish Beach, and Europaidh Beach for incredible stargazing on Lewis & Harris. Visit the Outer Hebrides on one of our adventure holidays.

      3. Torridon

       

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      Torridon is an awesome destination for stargazing. This coastal village is surrounded by jagged mountains and is said to be one of the “darkest” places in the UK. It is far enough removed on the north-west coast not to be impacted by the skyglow coming from the civilisation clusters in the south and east. For the adventurous enough you can head out into the hills to get a better vantage point. On the other hand, there is plenty of opportunity on lower ground to admire the beautiful night sky. Go for a drive along the road between Torridon and Diabaig, or the road between Torridon and Shieldaig, to get some stellar views. If you prefer to stay near the village walk along the rough beach and take your time taking in the beautiful but wild surroundings.

      Experience Torridon’s night skies yourself on our Introduction Course to Seakayaking or on our North Coast 500 biking holidays.

      4. Assynt

       

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      The Glencanisp Estate in Assynt is an official dark sky discovery site and it’s easy to see why. Like the other suggested stargazing sites in this list, it’s one is for the dedicated and requires a trip up north. However, your efforts will not go unrewarded. Even if you end up having a cloudy night, the surrounding natural beauty and the remarkable sights are enough to have made the journey worth it. The vistas are unparalleled, with mountains rising starkly from a moorland landscape. The Assynt peaks are spaced far apart, making them appear larger than they really are and make for incredible pictures.

      Have a look at other recommended stargazing sites in the Northern Highlands.

      Experience the rugged splendour of this area on our Wilds of Assynt walking trip.

      5. The Galloway Forest Park and the Scottish Dark Sky Observatory

       

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      Any stargazing in Scotland would not be complete without a mention of the Galloway Forest Dark Sky Park. The park received Dark Sky status in 2009 and was the first location in the UK to receive official recognition. The Scottish Dark Sky Observatory was built in 2012 at the northern edge of the park near Loch Doon. You can head out on your own for a walk, armed with nothing but a set of binoculars. Or you can visit the observatory, with free and paid for facilities for amateur astronomers. It also possible to arrange guided walks with experts who will be able to show you the best spots and tell you more about the heavens above.

      Add an evening of stargazing in the Galloway Forest Dark Sky Park on our private multi-activity holiday: In the Footsteps of Rabbie Burns.

      More Information

       

      There are many resources available to the fledgeling stargazing aficionados heading out in Scotland:

      Winter Trips

      winter highland cozy cairngorms

      Winter Highlands Cozy Cairngorms

      Duration: 4 Nights
      Difficulty: Your Own Pace
      Style: Guided
      Comfort: Classic
      Deposit From: £678.75

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      winter highland explorations

      Winter Highland Explorations

      Duration: 5 Nights
      Difficulty: Your Own Pace
      Style: Self Drive with Guided Days
      Comfort: Classic
      Deposit From: £446.25

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      Meet the Author: Meike van Krimpen

      “Having grown up travelling across the world I’ve developed an addiction to all things spice and to travel! When it was time to go to university I wandered off to Scotland for a new adventure and have not managed to leave yet!”

      View profileMore by Meike

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