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Situated along the coast is Skara Brae (pictured). The well-preserved remains of a prehistoric village (even the Neolithic furnishings are intact). For centuries the site was covered with sand, and was only rediscovered after a severe storm unearthed it in 1850. A landowner found the village in his backyard and turned it into Orkney’s first history museum. Other ruins have not been so lucky. A farmer tore down some of the Standing Stones of Sterness because he was sick of wandering gapers crowding his yard.

Highland Park is another major sight. The distillery is one of five in Scotland to still turn its malt by hand. This involves germinating the barley in a heap on the floor and regularly shovelling it. The effort results in a richer flavour.

After a tour, I talk to Highland Park’s Patricia Retson about my Northern Lights quest. She’s seen her fair share of the phenomenon. “Sometimes it looks like a neon curtain,” she muses, “other times like a pair of headlights”.

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Spotting the Northern Lights in Orkney
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