Just a couple of weeks ago, the Brecon Beacons National Park was awarded special protection as a dark sky reserve. “So what?”, I hear you say. This news is just the latest in a series of developments which makes the UK one of the premier stargazing destinations in the world. The Brecon Beacons joins just five other global locations to be awarded this status, including the Exmoor National Park.
Here is the Sykes Cottages guide to the best places to stargaze in the UK…
Brecon Beacons National Park, South Wales
Covering some 520 square miles of south Wales, including four mountain ranges, the Brecon Beacons is the latest destination to be awarded dark sky status. On a clear night, the Milky Way, meteor showers and numerous constellations are visible. The National Park also includes pretty market towns like Abergavenny and Llandovery and is also home to 268 ancient monuments which document 7000 years of human history. Both night and day, the Brecon Beacons is a great place for a cottage holiday.
Kielder Forest, Northumberland
Northumberland’s Kielder Forest occupies an area of 400 square miles and boasts the darkest skies in England thanks to very low light pollution. There is a powerful telescope housed in the Kielder Observatory which means great viewing opportunities all year round. There are also regular stargazing events held at the observatory throughout the year which are a fantastic opportunity to learn more about the night sky and pick up tips for photographing far off galaxies. By day, glorious Northumberland offers plenty for holidaymakers young and old. Discover Alnwick Castle, made famous by the Harry Potter films, enjoy a stroll along the Heritage Coast or explore Hadrian’s Wall country on the Scottish borders from your Northumberland holiday cottage.
Galloway Forest Park, Dumfries and Galloway
South west Scotland is home to one of only four global Dark Sky Parks where you can spot as many as 7000 stars with the naked eye. On a clear night with a telescope in hand, there really are no limits as to what you may see. Visit their website for the best places to see the stars and set up your telescope. Being the UK’s largest forest park, you can look forward to exploring dramatic landscapes from heather-clad moorland, lochs and stunning coastline. It’s an ideal spot for an active break with numerous walking and cycling trails and fishing available in beautiful surroundings. Nature lovers will make the most of a holiday in Scotland with opportunities to spot rare species like red squirrels, golden eagles and wild deer.
There is a vast amount of stargazing information available on the BBC website including maps of the night sky and a guide to astronomical smartphone apps to help you navigate the galaxies as you’re staring skywards.
Find a cottage
Why not make a weekend of your stargazing by booking a self-catering cottage with Sykes? Some of our cottages are located in rural countryside or close to these stargazing hotspots so you can make the most of the darkest skies. Whether you’re planning a holiday with fellow stargazers or the family, turn off the alarm, make up a flask of something hot and snuggle down under a sleeping bag for a night of astronomical excitement. Some of our holiday cottages even have a telescope so you don’t need to worry about taking equipment with you; have a look at Roa Island House in Ulverston, Mermaid Cottage in Newlyn and The Coach House in County Wexford for your next stargazing holiday.
If this has got you starry eyed about booking a holiday cottage for a stargazing break, visit our website or call our friendly team of holiday cottage advisors to choose one of our stellar cottages.