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September 2014 Aurora Hunt – 1

So, last night, with the faint but real possibility of the northern lights being visible from our part of the world, Stella and I headed off for a night of camping in one of the most remote, bleakest, but most stunning places in our area. Our target destination was the Tan Hill Inn, which proudly holds the title of “The Highest Pub In Great Britain”. And it really is out there in the wilderness. You don’t need a SatNav to get there. Just head for “The Middle Of Nowhere” and follow the signs for “The Back of Beyond” and eventually you’ll see this building, standing all alone in the middle of the wide open North Yorkshire moorland…

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The Inn has some lovely rooms for people to stay in, but we were there with our trusty red tent, and soon after arriving we had set up in one of the most striking places we’ve ever pitched our tent…

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Look at that! It was like camping in Middle Earth! Another view…

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…and a wider angle view, just to show you how “out in the open” the Inn itself is…

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…and with the location of our tent circled…

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With the tent all set up we headed inside for a bite to eat… Well, I say “bite”, we both ended up having a huge bar meal each…

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After that, while Stella relaxed on the snug lounge, with it’s these-are-so-comfortable-I-really-don’t-want-to-move sofas, I headed out to check on the sky. By this time I already knew, from checking websites and aurora apps etc,  that the chances of seeing any aurora were slim, and it was a misty night anyway, not helped by the big, fat, almost Full Moon clawing its way up into the eastern sky, but it had always been a long shot anyway, so I just enjoyed the views…

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Before heading to bed I was able to give a quick “sky tour” to one of our fellow guests (see? Outreach never sleeps!) and then, with the mist thickening, and fewer and fewer stars shining through it, and not even a hint of a wisp of any auroral activity going on, we called it a night.

Next morning dawned bright and sunny, if a little cloudy, so we packed up what we could before going back into the Inn for a full breakfast… and I mean full…

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Then that was it, we packed up the tent and headed home, without having seen any aurora, sadly, but having found a fantastic place to go back to in the future. I know this is going to sound like an advert, but I believe in highlighting places we enjoy and think others might too. The Tan Hill Inn is a gorgeous in a bleakly stunning place. Lovely food, open log fire, comfy lounge, incredibly friendly owners – nothing was too much trouble for them – with a big fluffy dog that’s the size of a small mammoth, and the most dramatic camping area we’ve ever pitched up on… can’t fault it, I really can’t, and we’re already looking forward to going back there to stargaze in autumn, on a Moon-free night when the starry sky should be stunning…

Now we wait and see if the aurora puts on a show tonight! It’s looking hopeful, but we’ll have to wait and see…

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