Whilst short days and long nights might not be everyone’s cup of tea, for some it can provide magical and amazing experiences – in the right locations of course. As currently we’re struggling to find places where we are allowed to go inside, when the time is right, why not embrace the great outdoors and make the most of these clear and wintery skies – some of the best stargazing places in the UK may be more local than you think!
The Breacon Beacons is one of the best stargazing places in the UK without doubt. There are plenty of places within the National Park which, with their lack of light pollution, will give you fantastic views of the starry skies on a clear night. Try heading to Llangorse Lakes or the Usk Reservoir for some easily accessible spots!
The South Downs has been an International Dark Sky Reserve since 2016 and now features seven stargazing hotspots: Devil’s Dyke, Butser Hill, Winchester Science Centre and Planetarium, Iping Common, Old Winchester Hill, Ditchling Beacon and Birling Gap. Two thirds of the park has bronze-level awarded dark skies which means you’ll be able to see Milky Way and the Andromeda galaxy.
Gods own county – yes we’re unashamedly bias, but with a great roadtrip company as well as four Dark Sky Discovery sites tucked away in the Dales, is there anything Yorkshire doesn’t have!? With the right conditions, you’ll be able to see up to 2,000 stars, meteors, the milky way and even the Northern Lights, if you’re really lucky! Lockdown and restrictions depending, the Dark Skies Festival will run again from February 12 – 28 this month.
There are only 18 accredited International Dark Sky Reserves in the world, and you’ll find one of them in Snowdonia. Whilst most visitors will only visit the area to climb Mount Snowdon, it’s well worth staying the night too. On a clear night you’ll be able to see all the major constellations, shooting stars and even the Milky Way too!
The (marginally) dryer climate on the East coast of England and unpolluted skies makes the North York Moors a great place for stargazers. Like Snowdonia, North York Moors was given International Dark Sky Reserve accreditation as recently as December 2020, making this as good a place as any to look up! The coastline between Scarborough and Saltburn is the perfect place to set up your base and if you’re looking to get higher up (potentially to spot the Aurora Borealis, should it be strong enough) then head to Boulby Cliff.
By Alex Mulvey