Visit Northumberland this autumn and winter to experience unforgettable nights under the stars in Northumberland International Dark Sky Park – the largest in Europe!
Sycamore Gap along Hadrian’s Wall, Northumberland. Photo: Cain Scrimgeour
Did you know that 85 per cent of our population has never enjoyed the simple pleasure of gazing at the stars through a truly dark sky? Now for the first time ever in the UK, a series of spellbinding family stargazing events will be taking place at various venues in Northumberland International Dark Sky Park (which incorporates Northumberland National Park and Kielder Water Forest Park) until the end of the year. More will be scheduled in the New Year to last until March 2015.
Kielder Observatory in the heart of Northumberland International Dark Sky Park
In addition, a number of special stargazing short breaks have been set up at some of the area’s darkest night accommodation. Friendly, overnight comfort, great local food, stargazing on the doorstep, additional astronomy activity and late breakfasts are a speciality!
Family stargazing events will be taking place at various venues in Northumberland International Dark Sky Park
Northumberland has the darkest night skies in England thanks to minimal light pollution
ONE NIGHT STARGAZING EVENTS IN NORTHUMBERLAND
18 October – Once Brewed, near Hexham – Stargazing – NNP Visitor Centre
1 November – Elsdon – Daytime Event – Solar Observing – Elsdon Village Hall
1 November – Elsdon – Nightime Event – Observing – Elsdon Village Hall
8 November – Once Brewed near Hexham – Moonwatch – NNP Visitor Centre
14 November – Alwinton – Meteorwatch – Leonids – Clennel Hall Hotel
18 November – Stonehaugh shelter – Village Hall followed by the stargazing pavilion
22 November – Once Brewed, near Hexham – Dark Sky Stargazing – NNP Visitor Centre
6 December – Once Brewed, near Hexham – Moonwatch – NNP Visitor Centre
10 December – Alwinton – Clennel Hall Hotel
13 December – Once Brewed, near Hexham – Geminids meteorwatch – NNP Visitor Centre
STARGAZING SHORT BREAKS
17 and 19 October – Kielder Campsite, Kielder, NE48 1EQ
The first ever “Peoples Star Party”. The campsite is the venue for the world famous Kielder Forest Star Camp and now beginners can enjoy the same fabulous dark skies with telescope viewing every night, colourful talks and solar observing.
Tel: 01434 250 291
17 and 18 October – Haggs Bank Bunkhouse, Alston, CA9 3LH
Inaugural stargazing weekend at one of the darkest spots in the North Pennines AONB. Wonderful skies, telescope viewing, colourful talks and solar observing all guided by expert stargazers.
Tel: 01434 382 486
14 to 15 November – Herding Hill Campsite, Haltwhistle, Northumberland, NE49 9NW
Stargazing Weekend with talks, solar and dark sky observing and chance to see shooting stars from the famous Leonid Meteor Shower.
Tel: 01434 320 175
28 and 29 November – Gibbs Hill Farm, Bardon Mill, Northumberland, NE47 7AP
A stargazing weekend extravaganza under the sparkling skies with talks and telescope viewing seeking out diamond like star cluster, the Milky Way and distant galaxies.
Tel: 01434 344 030
13 and 14 December – Redesdale Arms, Otterburn, Northumberland, NE19 1TA
A stargazing weekend break in the lead up to Christmas. Enjoy Xmas hospitality combined with colourful astronomy talks for novices and telescope observing guided by experts! We’ll also keep our eyes open for shooting stars from the Geminid Meteor shower.
Tel: 01830 520 668
Famous for having the darkest night skies in England thanks to minimal light pollution, Northumberland International Dark Sky Park is a star gazers’ heaven. Kielder Observatory in particular offers fantastic opportunities for those with an interest in learning more about the night sky (www.visitnorthumberland.com/great-outdoors/kielder-observatory)
High Further high quality accommodation in the immediate area includes the beautiful Kielder Forest Park where you will find lodges, superb cottages, camping and caravans as well as comfortable hotels www.visitkielder.co.uk
Stargazing visitors could also try the award winning Battlesteads Hotel, Hexham for 2 nights’ dinner, and bed & breakfast for only £200 (total) for 2 people sharing www.battlesteads.com
Alternatively the luxury Matfen Hall Hotel and Spa near Hexham, is set in 300 acres of parkland and includes a 27 hole golf course and spa, as well as the treetop adventure “Go Ape” in the grounds www.matfenhall.co.uk
Stargazing Breaks at Blacksmiths Cottage (www.visitnorthumberland.com/self-catering/blacksmiths-cottage), situated on the edge of the National Park, offers guests a telescope and an experienced group leader so you can learn about the stars.
Or try Wild Northumbrian Tipis and Yurts (www.wildnorthumbrian.co.uk)- a totally new concept in wild camping, star gazing and workshops combined! Here you will find wonderfully remote, wild but luxurious camping with breathtaking scenery in the heart of the Dark Sky Park. There are wood burning stoves, hand crafted beds with duckdown duvets and even an outdoor kitchen with campfire so you don’t miss a single star! Enjoy oven baked pizza around an open fire, delicious puddings, hot chocolate and some of the best Dark Sky experiences in the world.
For intrepid star gazers who wish to go it alone, many hotels and accommodation providers around the Dark Sky Park provide flasks for star watching and late breakfasts. Why not make it a truly authentic Northumbrian experience and take along some tasty local produce with you for a midnight feast in the open? Try “The Northumbrian Picnic” from Northumberland Cheese Company (northumberlandcheese.co.uk) some bottles of great locally produced beer from Wylam Brewery (www.wylambrewery.co.uk) or maybe a delicious slice of cake or two from the Carriages Tea Room (www.visitnorthumberland.com/cafes-tearooms/carriages-tea-room)
The autumn and winter stargazing events in Northumberland have been created by well-known astronomer and professional scientist Robert Ince. Most start between 7pm and 8pm and booking is advisable. Adults and children will be taken on an incredible journey through constellations and along the Milky Way by Starmaker Astro Guides, amateur astronomers equipped with powerful telescopes, an amazing knowledge of the heavens and a gift for storytelling.
If the weather does not reveal Northumberland’s starry nights, the events will take place with colourful talks, videos and hands-on help with telescopes, together with friendly advice on how to get started in this great hobby.
Information and bookings: www.visitnorthumberland.com/darkskies/experiences and also from Frances Whitehead, communications officer, Northumberland National Park Authority email: firstname.lastname@example.org or call: 01434 611 542