IN the coming weeks, if you want to get every second of light out of your summer, in other words to find a place in Scotland where the dark never fully falls, then northwards is where you must head, north towards the Simmer Dim.

This beautiful Shetland term describes not a place, but a time of year, or more precisely a phenomenon, the twilight that hangs in the sky through the midsummer nights, even as the sun has set just below the horizon. It’s the light of a northern summer solstice.

The further north you go, the longer the light lingers, so it makes sense that when we think of midsummer, we think of Shetland, and of Unst, the northernmost inhabited part of the British Isles. There, the sun is in the sky for almost nineteen hours in a day. The days are long, also the nights so light they are described as white.

Unst, says the website, “is the ultimate Shetland destination - the absolute end of every Great North Road in Britain, it has the northernmost of everything”. But the light, and the northerliness, are not the only things to go to Unst for. It is also rich in Viking heritage, with over sixty long houses, home to the Hermaness and Keen of Hamar nature reserves, as well as traditional crofting and Bobby’s Bus Shelter, which, each year, is entertainingly decorated by locals.

READ MORE: Summer solstice in Scotland - what is it and how can you mark it?

Still, there's no doubting that the midsummer light there, at 60 degrees north, adds an extra enchantment. The Shetland With Laurie blog describes Simmer Dim as “a magical time of year”. “The sun sets at 10.30pm, merely dipping its head below the horizon before rising again at 3.30am. Everything in nature is alive.”

Sometimes when people talk of the Simmer Dim, they are referring to the summer solstice, the longest day, on June 21st this year. It’s the name of a gathering of bikers too, postponed this year and last because of the pandemic. This great big solstice bikers party has taken place since 1982 on the Shetland Isles and sees hundreds of motorcyclists, from the isles and further afield come together in the summer twilight.

Of course we don’t have to bike quite as far as Unst to experience a bit of the thrill of a midsummer light night. Even in the central belt, we have first light around 3.30, sunrise at the solstice at 4.26, sunset around 10pm and the last of the light fading at 11pm. Pick your spot on any local hill and watch the sun go down.

Unst however glories in an extra two hours of light, and the sense of the darkness never quite descending. An extra touch of simmer magic.