Aurora borealis over Sycamore Gap Tree, Hadrian's Wall, Northumberland
© Guy Edwardes/NPL/Minden Picture
Stars over Sycamore Gap. Sycamore Gap, Northumberland
The Northern Lights have set the sky alight with colour here at Northumberland's famous Sycamore Gap. This tree has been keeping a lonely vigil for hundreds of years at the bottom of a steep dip in Hadrian’s Wall, the 73-mile-long fortification built to mark the north-west frontier of the Roman Empire. Silhouetted against the sky, it is said to be the most photographed spot in Northumberland National Park.
This area is also home to Europe’s largest area of protected night sky and England’s first and largest dark sky park. In February, it hosts a Dark Skies Festival to entice visitors to venture out after sunset. Very low levels of light pollution make it popular with star gazers who, on a clear night, can see the Milky Way, and sometimes the neighbouring Andromeda Galaxy, with the naked eye.
The Northern Lights, a celestial lightshow caused by charged solar particles hitting Earth’s atmosphere, are a rare treat for the lucky ones here in England's most northerly county. But this iconic sycamore is here in all atmospheric conditions, ready for its close-up.