Discover The UK’s Best Stargazing Spots

Look up and get lost – there are few sights as astonishing and as humbling as staring up at a sky full of stars. On a clear night in the countryside, up to 4,000 stars can be seen twinkling above us. But with 90% of the population now living under light polluted skies, the awe-inspiring experience has become increasingly uncommon. Fortunately, there are now over 150 special ‘Dark Sky Discovery Sites’ spotted around the country – and we’ve picked a few of our favourites to help you discover a nighttime oasis. 

England
1 Morden Hall Park, London
An oasis in suburbia, simply take the Northern Line south and head to the capital’s only Dark Sky Site. With the night tube rolling out this autumn, stargazing in London has just become a real possibility. Find out more by clicking here.

2 Exmoor National Park

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Image courtesy of Adrian/Cubitt/ENPA

The first designated International Dark Sky Reserve in Europe and a stunning place to see the Milky Way, head on up to Dunkery Beacon for the best highest and best viewpoint. Once you’ve got your cosmic bearings you can even rent a telescope to delve deeper into the wonders of the universe. Find out more here.

3 Bignor Car Park in Slindon Estate, West Sussex
The highest point of the South Downs offers a great chance to see shooting stars. What the car park lacks in glamour, it makes up for in its stunning clarity of the constellations above. Arrive early and catch a beautiful sunset panorama before the stars start twinkling. Find out more here.

4 Kielder Observatory, Northumberland National Park

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This beautiful location is officially the darkest place in Britain and is Europe’s largest area of protected night sky. If you would like to take your stargazing experience to the next level, drop by one of their regular astrophotography evenings. Find out more here.

5 Allan’s Bank in Grasmere, Lake District

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This picturesque Natural Trust property was the former home of poet William Wordsworth and it’s clear to see where he got his inspiration. Explore the unspoilt surroundings during the day before cosying up under a blanket of stars as the night draws on. Discover more here.

Wales
1 Brecon Beacons National Park
The first International Dark Sky reserve in Wales, on a clear night you can just about see everything from anywhere. Escape to the Black Mountains for a stunning weekend retreat and be sure to stop by the quaint Brecon Beacons Observatory that lies under the imposing shadow of Pen y Fan, South Wales’s highest mountain. Find out more here.

2 Snowdonia National Park

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Not content to let the Brecons have all the fun, the huge National Park in North Wales became one of only eleven worldwide sites to be declared an International Dark Sky Reserve back in 2012. This was great news for stargazers, who now love the area known for its crystal clear views of the Milky Way – as well as its imposing mountain ranges. To find out more, click here.

Scotland
1 Galloway Forest Park
Perched atop the vast forests of Galloway is the spectacular Scottish Dark Sky Observatory. Step back in time and immerse yourself in the parks remote beauty during the day before returning for a night-time canopy of stars you’ll never forget. Photographers will love the nearby Loch Bradan, where the stars twinkle on its mirrored surface. 
To find out more, click here.

Ireland
1 Divis Mountain, Belfast Hills
On a clear day, this commanding summit on the outskirts of Belfast offers spectacular panoramas of the wild Northern Irish landscape. Its elevation allows you to escape the city lights, providing a great spot to cosy up with a blanket and thermos and let the universe unravel before your eyes. Discover more here.

2 Kerry International Dark Sky Reserve

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Tucked away between the Atlantic Ocean and the Kerry Mountains, this dark corridor in Southwest Ireland is the only Gold Tier Dark Sky Reserve in the northern hemisphere. On a clear night, with the beautiful band of the Milky Way arching above your head, you’ll wonder how it took so long to look up. Find out more here.

Written by Barton Mathews

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