Whether you’re a budding astronomer or simply like to escape to a place where you can gaze at the stars, it’s an activity that’s becoming increasingly difficult in today’s permanently lit up world. There aren’t many urban areas where the night sky can be fully appreciated so many people don’t bother looking up at all. You’ll be pleased to know, however, that there are some parts of the UK which have some of the darkest skies anywhere on earth – and here they are:
This area of North Devon has International Dark Sky recognition, so grab your telescope and head to Exmoor. Light management is strong here with local authorities making sure there is ample opportunity for star gazers to get their fill. Often, the sky is so spectacular here that you don’t even need a telescope but if you don’t own one, you can hire one from the National Park Centres. Pitch up for a wonderful night under the stars with everything you need for your comfort available from the outdoor survival store Anglo Forro.
If you’re in Wales, the only Dark Sky location can be found in the Brecon Beacons mountain range. The local authorities have worked hard to reduce any light pollution, so the views of the night sky here are spectacular. The best spots to visit include the Crai Reservoir, the National Park Visitor Centre and Llangorse Lakes. This area was the first in Britain to become a Dark Sky Reserve in 2012.
Famed for its rugged beauty and stunning landscapes, the sky in Cumbria is pretty great for star-gazing too. The skies here are some of the darkest in the UK and you won’t even need any specialist equipment unless you already have it. The most popular spot is Grizedale Forest Park where you can also spend your days enjoying the hiking trails before nightfall.
Carding Mill Valley, Shropshire
This is the perfect location if you want to see the Milky Way as the site has Milky Way status in its Dark Sky rating. There is minimal light pollution and great expanses of dark night sky to experience. Spend the day enjoying walks through the heaths, wild-life spotting or mountain biking in the stunning, picturesque Shropshire hills before tuning in to the galaxy on offer above you as darkness falls.
Who could resist a spot of star-gazing with the sound of waves crashing in the backdrop? The Norfolk Coast is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty with incredible coastal views and a large seal population at the Blakeney Nature Reserve. You’ll discover saltmarshes, harbours, wide open beaches, woodland and fascinating wildlife abound here, as well as huge open dark skies at night. The area is easily accessible and distant from light pollution, giving an uninterrupted front row seat to the wonders of the night sky.