Romantics listen up! The UK actually consists some of the best dark sky holidays in the whole of the world. Perfect for those midnight Prosecco feasts, lying down on the lush green grass and counting the stars or even a certain proposal which could change your life for ever. We have a selection of fabulous holiday cottages to rent in dark sky areas, but do read on about the best places to star gaze in the UK because you need to decide where you would like to book a stargazing break.
Northumberland is one of these special sites. It is home to England’s largest and most sparsely populated National Park and with minimal light or noise pollution from neighbouring powerhouse cities, offers some of the clearest night skies for miles around. Recently awarded a gold tier by the International Dark Sky Association, this ensures this picturesque area is officially the best place for stargazing in the UK. With many scenic sections from which to see the sky in all its glory, you’re guaranteed an illuminating experience in the Northumberland International Dark Sky Park, Europe’s largest area of protected night sky.
As Hadrian’s Wall, an Ancient Roman masterpiece is on Northumberland’s doorstep, sprawling 80 miles coast to coast and offering unrivalled panoramic views, why not walk to your favourite part of one of The Guardian’s hot list of places to visit in 2017 and settle down for the evening? One of the easiest milestones to reach by car, Cawfields, a former quarry is a popular viewpoint with tourists. It is also one of the highest and therefore is a wonderful place to view the dark skies. In fact, the location of Cawfields is so good that it is a designated Dark Sky Discovery Site, which signifies that the Milky Way is clearly visible to the naked eye. Not brought your equipment with you? No need to worry, as many cottages provide a package designed to give guests that full Northumberland stargazing experience.
Wales has always been synonymous with beautiful skies and in the Brecon Beacons, this is certainly the case. Like Northumberland, it is an International Dark Sky Reserve and incredibly is the first in its country to be accredited; you will see why from the first look out of your binoculars or telescope! On a clear night from stargazing sites in the area such as Usk Reservoir and Llanthony Priory, you can catch a glimpse of major constellations like The Plough regularly seen in the early spring, bright nebulas and even sometimes meteor showers. Picked the wrong night for stars? Why not see if you can notice any nocturnal animals like barn owls, bats and hedgehogs flying or scurrying around the grasslands hoping to spot their next tasty dish?
Further down the country, you will encounter many more special places with dark night skies. One of these is at Exmoor National Park, proud to be named as Europe’s first Dark Sky Reserve. With many events scheduled for the coming year, how about gathering all the troops together and signing up for a Family Stargazing Weekend with Exmoor’s resident Astronomer Seb Jay in the heart of the park? Ideal for learning all about the night skies in this beautiful part of the world and their many secrets.
Throughout Cornwall and Devon, there are many more stargazing spots and Dunsdon Farm in North Devon is a prime example of this. Unhindered by artificial light, it is extremely easy to get drawn in by the star filled jet black night sky at this special site. Want to taste the sea air as you sit back and relax under the stars? Carnewas is one of the most popular destinations on the north Cornish coast because of its spectacular cliff-top view of sea stacks and Bedruthan beach. It’s no wonder then that this sensational spot has also recently been officially accredited with Dark Sky Discovery status. Why not delve more into astronomy in the local area by joining Kernow Astronomers and signing up for one of their many meetings and events running throughout the year?
Known for being the home of spectacular scenery, Scotland officially has some of the darkest skies in Europe. Among them is the remote yet stunning Galloway Forest Park, which incredibly was the UK’s first Dark Sky Park. At around 75,000 hectares wide and with over 7,000 stars and planets visible to the naked eye, it’s arguably the best place in Britain to gather your thoughts and wholly appreciate the wonder of our planet. Places in the park like Clatteringshaw make you feel on top of the world with panoramic views from the Merrick, the highest hill in the Southern Uplands or if you’re feeling particularly cultured, enjoy a family walk under the starry sky to Bruce’s Stone, on the borders of Loch Trool, which commemorates Robert the Bruce’s first ever victory over an English army. This particular area overlooks the darkest part in the whole of the beautiful park and makes it even more well worth a visit. Feeling peckish while you wait for the evening to come? The nearby Galloway Lodge provides a full menu featuring soups, sandwiches, daily specials and home baking as well as a selection of hot drinks and barista made coffee using Matthew Algie triple certified Tiki coffee.
With a dark sky holiday always a crowd pleaser for families as well as for romantics, these sites mentioned above are just a fair few of the many places in and around the UK that can provide the most memorable evenings. Who needs a trip abroad and spending an abundance of euros when you have everything you want for the perfect holiday right here in Great Britain?