It’s tragically true, but in a few days’ time the nights start to draw in as we begin the inevitable decline to midwinter. It’s not all doom and gloom though, as the best of the Summer is still to come, but right now we are blessed with the very late sunsets and early sunrises given to us by our northern latitude.
On a good, clear night even at one o’clock in the morning there is still a sliver of light across the northern horizon, and if you get depressed by the seemingly perpetual darkness of an Edinburgh winter, now is the time to compensate with over 17 hours of daylight per day.
The 2018 solstice is at precisely 11:07 on 21 June, and the Summer solstice sunrise is that morning at 04.28 which this year is a Thursday, so not the best day of the week to stay up all night. But the night before, sunset is at 22.56 and twilight lasts another hour until just after 23.00. Although not 100% dark if there is no cloud, it’s pretty much properly daylight again by 3.30 am, a full hour before sunrise.
If you want to stay up and watch the sunset, followed by the shortest night of the year and the earliest sunset, there are few places as good as by the coast. You’ll need to choose somewhere where you can see the east for maximum sunrise effect, so the best places in Edinburgh would probably be the Portobello Beach (Solstice Beach Party) Silverknowes Beach Promenade or Cramond Island. Slightly more central might be Wardie Bay and Granton Harbour, reachable by bike on the Inner tube direct from the city centre.
Granton Breakwater and Newhaven Harbour
For total solitude, a walk to the end of Granton Breakwater is well worth it, to watch the sunrise from way out in the Forth, accompanied by the sound of the yachts’ masts and sights of diving birds. If you are feeling less intrepid, there is always Wardie Beach. If it’s just the sunset you are after, Newhaven Harbour with its lighthouse makes for good photographs, and has nearby pubs. Or, you could stay inside and watch the sun go down from the cafes and bars in Ocean Terminal, complete with views over the Royal Yacht.
Back inland, nothing beats watching either the sun going down or coming back up again (or both) than up Arthur’s Seat or Calton Hill, although you are more likely to have company up there. Any other top tips?
If it’s cloudy on the 21st, and you don’t want to miss out, or staying up all night on a school night doesn’t seem a good idea, the timings of sunrise and sunset on the days either side are only a few seconds’ different – you won’t notice!