Unwind in a Hot Tub Under the Northern Lights in the Scottish Highlands

Unwind in a Hot Tub Under the Northern Lights in the Scottish Highlands

Discovering the Wonders of Dornoch

I’ll never forget the first time I visited the Scottish Highlands. After months of planning, the day had finally arrived! As my partner Christine and I boarded the plane in Malta, we were buzzing with excitement for our two-week adventure exploring the wonders of the rugged northern terrain.

We started our journey with a layover in Norway before finally touching down in Iceland. Once we had our rental camper van all squared away, we wasted no time setting out to tackle the iconic Golden Circle route. Along the way, we marveled at the dramatic landscapes – from the thundering Bruarfoss waterfall to the awe-inspiring Háifoss waterfall nestled deep in the highlands.

Despite facing some less-than-ideal weather in those first few days, with thick clouds, wind, and rain dampening our plans, we refused to let it put a damper on our spirits. We knew that the true magic of the Highlands was waiting to reveal itself. And on our fourth night, as we slept near the Fjaðrárgljúfur canyon, our patience was rewarded.

Chasing the Northern Lights

Around 2:15 AM, I peeked out the camper van window, half-expecting to see nothing but inky blackness. But to my disbelief, the sky was alive with shimmering bands of green – the unmistakable glow of the Aurora Borealis! I scrambled to get dressed and grab my camera, then rushed outside to capture the stunning display dancing above the canyon. Christine was equally mesmerized, and we spent the next few hours in awe, watching the Mirrie Dancers put on an unforgettable show.

After that magical night, we continued our journey along the Ring Road, stopping at iconic landmarks like the Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon. While the Aurora forecast wasn’t promising, the clear skies gave us the perfect opportunity to recharge and recover from our late-night adventure. As the sun dipped below the horizon, I set out to capture a serene composition showcasing the crystal-clear blocks of ice floating in the lagoon.

But just as we were settling in for the night, I was jolted awake by the sound of excited voices outside. Peering out the window, I immediately recognized the telltale glow – the Northern Lights had returned! Scrambling to get my gear, I managed to snatch a few photos of the ethereal purple and green displays before they vanished just as quickly as they had appeared.

Relaxing in Geothermal Hot Tubs

After a whirlwind first few days, Christine and I knew we needed a day to relax and recharge. And what better way to do that than by soaking in a geothermal hot tub, surrounded by mountain vistas and a glacier? As we sank into the steaming waters, all the stresses of the journey melted away. It was the perfect way to unwind and reset before setting off again.

Our next stop was the stunning Stokksness peninsula, where we were treated to some of the most incredible light I’ve ever witnessed at sunset. The pristine sand dunes and majestic mountains created a scene straight out of a dream. But the real showstopper was yet to come.

As we checked the Aurora forecast that evening, our jaws dropped – the activity was predicted to be a staggering KP6, an incredibly rare and powerful display. Sure enough, when we ventured out into the biting wind and cold, the sky erupted in a mesmerizing dance of vibrant greens and purples. We spent hours capturing the Mirrie Dancers in awe, snapping selfies and even creating a time-lapse to immortalize the unforgettable experience.

Embracing the Highlands’ Diverse Offerings

Over the next few days, we continued to explore the wonders of the Icelandic countryside, from the dramatic Aldeyjarfoss waterfall to the enigmatic Hvítserkur sea stack. And just when we thought we’d seen it all, the Northern Lights made another appearance, casting an ethereal glow over the ancient basalt formations.

As our trip drew to a close, we shifted our focus to the Snæfellsnes peninsula, determined to capture the iconic Kirkjufell mountain in all its glory. We were rewarded with a stunning sunset and a perfect reflection in a nearby lake the following morning. But the real treat came that night, as thin clouds rolled in, creating a breathtaking backdrop for the Aurora’s magnificent display.

Reluctantly, we eventually had to bid farewell to Iceland and return to our home in Malta. But the memories of our winter adventure – the awe-inspiring landscapes, the captivating Northern Lights, and the blissful moments of relaxation – will stay with us forever.

Discovering the Wonders of Dornoch

Now, as I reflect on our Icelandic journey, I can’t help but feel a sense of longing to return to the Scottish Highlands. Earlier this year, my partner and I had the opportunity to visit the charming town of Dornoch, and it left an indelible mark on our hearts.

From the moment we arrived, we were captivated by the town’s quaint character and the warmth of its residents. Our home base for the trip was the cozy Greenkeeper’s Cottage, a self-catering gem nestled just steps from the beach. The cottage’s history added to its allure, with the Witch’s Stone in the garden serving as a poignant reminder of the region’s past.

But Dornoch had so much more to offer than just charming accommodations. Over the course of our stay, we immersed ourselves in the town’s diverse array of experiences, carefully curated by the team at Visit Dornoch.

Golfing in the Highlands

For my partner, the highlight of the trip was undoubtedly playing a round at the legendary Royal Dornoch Golf Club. Even braving the blustery winds of Storm Arwen couldn’t dampen his enthusiasm for tackling this iconic course. As I accompanied him on the journey, I couldn’t help but marvel at the stunning vistas and his unwavering determination to conquer the challenging terrain.

Indulging in Relaxation

While my partner teed off, I treated myself to a luxurious massage at the Aspen Spa, housed within the grand Carnegie Courthouse. The experience was nothing short of blissful, as I melted into the heated bed, surrounded by the soothing aroma of essential oils. When my treatment was complete, I emerged feeling rejuvenated and serene, ready to explore the town’s other offerings.

Discovering the Great Outdoors

One of the most exhilarating experiences of our Dornoch adventure was exploring the local trails on two wheels. We rented mountain bikes from Dornoch Bike Hire and set off on a scenic journey, pedaling along an old railway line that connected Dornoch to the neighboring village of Embo. Despite the occasional blizzard, we embraced the elements, marveling at the snow-capped landscapes and the sheer joy of being outdoors.

Immersing in Local History and Wildlife

Our Dornoch explorations extended beyond the town’s borders, as we ventured out to discover the rich history and diverse wildlife of the surrounding region. We stumbled upon the captivating ruins of Skelbo Castle, which had witnessed pivotal moments in Scotland’s past, and marveled at the majestic red kites soaring overhead at Loch Fleet National Nature Reserve.

Chasing the Northern Lights… Again

But the true highlight of our Dornoch adventure came on a crisp, clear night, when we received word that the Aurora Borealis was making an appearance. Bundled up against the cold, we rushed to Loch Fleet, and as soon as we stepped out of the car, the Mirrie Dancers came alive in the night sky. For half an hour, we stood in awe, mesmerized by the stunning display of nature’s artistry. It was a moment that transported us back to our Icelandic adventure, and one that we will cherish forever.

As we reluctantly bid farewell to Dornoch, we were left with a deep appreciation for the town’s ability to offer something for everyone. Whether you’re seeking thrilling outdoor adventures, soothing relaxation, or the chance to witness the ethereal beauty of the Northern Lights, Dornoch truly has it all.

So, if you’re looking to unwind in a hot tub under the dancing Aurora, look no further than the Scottish Highlands. I can guarantee that the memories you’ll create here will stay with you long after you’ve returned home.

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