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Lightest day offers longest walks

Posted 20 June 2012
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Lightest day offers longest walks
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Today (June 20th) is the longest day of the year in Britain, when the sun is above the horizon the longest.

While the weather may not be so good, the lengthy daylight hours mean people can put their walking boots and enjoy some very long days on the hills, with less chance of being caught out with fading light as they return.

At this time of year, almost all of Scotland sees the sun setting after 22:00 BST and with the northerly latitude meaning the sun is barely below the horizon even after it sets, anybody outside will experience twilight rather than night.

This can make it a very goodtime of year to undertake long walks on high mountains, such as those of the Cairngorm plateau.

Walkers equipped with water purifying tablets can make use of some of the highest water sources in Britain, such as the pools of Dee below the summit of Braeriach, Britain's third highest mountain at 4,252 ft.

This replenishment could help hikers complete a trek involving the conquering of three Munros over 4,000 ft, a feat very hard to accomplish anywhere else.

A trek from Braeriach southwards across the high tundra leads to Sgorr an Lochan Uaine (4,127 ft), followed by Cairn Toul (4,237 ft),with the Devil's Point (3,294 ft) providing a fourth Munro further along the ridge.

The other side of the plateau also offers a lengthy walk, with Cairn Gorm (4,084 ft) and Britain's second highest mountain Ben Macdui (4,295 ft) being followed by Derry Cairngorm (3,789 ft). In this case, however, half of the climb up Cairn Gorm can be made by bus or car as far as the ski centre car park.

At this time of year, a clear sky will mean that even at midnight, the north-facing sky that far north will still be tinged red as if the sun has just set. For those up on the mountains to a late hour, it means a descent can be competed in reasonable light until very late, while if it is impossible to get off the hills, it will be starting to get lighter again by 03:00. 

So while Britain is not quite far enough to be in the land of the midnight sun, it certainly offers some very light evenings and also the chance to make an early start.