Lighting up dark skies

Dark skies are the perfect excuse to go camping

One piece of news that caught my eye today is that Northumberland National Park and Kielder Water and Forest Park has been made Europe's largest Dark Sky Park.

This is fantastic news, not only to seasoned stargazers but to anyone who has even a vague interest in astronomy.

I probably fall into the latter category. I don't even own a pair of binoculars let alone a telescope, but I still take every opportunity I can get to stare skywards on a starry night.

The protection provided by Dark Sky Park status will mean the beautiful Northumberland night sky is, to a degree, shielded from the negative effects of light pollution in the immediate area.

That should mean a fabulous light show overhead for our generation, and many future generations to enjoy.

The International Dark Skies Association decision has made this the largest patch of protected night sky anywhere in Europe.

I've had the good fortune to visit the existing three areas with IDA protected status in the UK - Galloway Forest Park, the Brecon Beacons and Exmoor. The dark skies in Galloway in particular were phenomenal.

But this latest addition will be a feather in Britain's cap, especially considering the exponential growth of our population and the continued encroachment of built-up towns and cities into greenfield areas.

As far as camping goes, Bellingham Club Site is within the National Park and the Dark Sky Park boundary and you can experience some brilliantly dark skies at the site. You might also want to join one of our District Association meets or Temporary Holiday Sites. Check Out & About for any in the area.

It's also worth checking out the observatory in Kielder Forest too for events and night sky updates.

And if that doesn't whet your appetite, then have a look at the Club's stargazing pages for more places to visit with spectacular cosmic views.

Happy stargazing!

Stuart Kidman avatar Posted by
Stuart Kidman

Stuart Kidman

Stuart Kidman avatar

Stuart Kidman is the magazine's Deputy Editor. He has been a journalist for ten years, writing for local newspapers before joining the Club in 2009. He loves camping and enjoys nothing better than trekking off into the wilderness to 'rough it' for a couple of nights.

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Camping & Caravaning Comments - 1 comment


I have noticed that many of the club sites do not seem dark sky aware which is a shame. I would urge all site organisers to make sure that any floodlights or path lighting is full cut-off dark sky friendly lighting. This does not mean we have to walk around in the dark it just means that any light fittings at our campsites should light up the path ways and not waste energy lighting up trees and the sky. It is never comfortable walking along a pathway on campsite when your only source of light is a blindingly poor designed light fitting that you are being dazzled by as you walk towards it.

Many of our campsites are out in the countryside in dark areas but we are unable to enjoy the beauty of the night sky because poor quality lighting is left on all night.

Let's see some more campsites updating their lighting and making sure that the light is not being directed in the wrong places. Let's also have lights out at 10:30pm it will save energy and protect our sky.

If anyone needs to go out after that time they can surely use a small torch, after all what camper worth his salt doesn't have a torch.

Come on everyone let's make the Camping & Caravanning Club Dark Sky Friendly.

January 8, 2014 Reply to this Comment

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