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Best Places for Stargazing in the UK

Wednesday 17 January 2024

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We all enjoy great days out seeing the most spectacular sights around the UK, but what about when the sun sets? In the dark night sky, there is still plenty to see – millions of stars! Around the UK, there are some breathtakingly beautiful natural locations offering the best spots for viewing the night sky, with extra dark skies allowing stargazers to see more than usual. Join CrossCountry as we discover some of the best places for stargazing in the UK.

Galloway Forest Park

We’ll start off with a popular spot in Galloway Forest Park, and it’s popular for a number of reasons. Not only is it a picturesque national park during the day, but it also has some of the clearest views of the night sky you could ask for.  As Scotland’s only recognised dark sky park, you’re sure to have a picture-perfect view of the stars. You’ll also have the added possibility of seeing the Northern Lights, with the forest park being one of the best spots in Scotland and the world to see the Aurora Borealis. 

With the forest park just southwest of Glasgow, getting there from Glasgow Central station takes no time at all.

Yorkshire Dales

Moving south of the border, the Yorkshire Dales is another ideal spot for stargazing. With the National Park spanning over three different counties, you won't struggle to find the perfect spot for star watching. The Dales is also host to an annual Dark Skies Festival, with the park celebrating the canvas of stars across the uninterrupted skyline on various dates across winter. With all of this on offer, and combined with the parks proximity to York, there’s no wonder that the Yorkshire Dales is one of the finest and most visited stargazing locations in the UK. 

A starry night sky near the Ribblehead Viaduct in the Yorkshire Dales

Brecon Beacons

Another of the UK’s favourite national parks, that is also an ideal stargazing spot in South Wales, is the Brecon Beacons. Visitors to this National Park may feel starry eyed at the possibility of seeing meteor showers and bright nebulas in the clearest of skies, due to its lack of light pollution. Brecon Beacons prides itself on being the first National Park in Wales and only the fifth internationally as a recognised International Dark Sky Reserve. With a starry sky as the backdrop for this mountainous National Park, you will want to come back again and again. Finding trains to the Brecon Beacons is also a breeze, with regular services to and from Cardiff Central with CrossCountry. 

Royal Observatory Edinburgh

Another option in Scotland with an alternative location to a National Park is the Royal Observatory in Edinburgh. With the observatory located only a few miles from Edinburgh Waverley station, it is an ideal spot for going stargazing as part of an extended stay in Edinburgh. With guided tours throughout the observatory, you can appreciate the phenomenal view of the stars as well as learning more about the science and technology behind being able to analyse our night sky. If you are interested in both stargazing and learning more about astronomy, the Royal Observatory in Edinburgh is the perfect spot for beginner stargazers and more experienced astronomers alike.

A wintery shot of the Galactic core nestled between Corn Du and Pen Y Fan. The highest peaks in South Wales.

Exmoor National Park

Located in the South of England, Exmoor National Park  is another hotspot to see our cosmos. Proudly establishing itself as Europe’s first dark sky reserve, this National Park is known to provide spectacular views of the Milky Way possible to see with the naked eye. There is also a self-led trail, of around two miles, where light pollution is at a minimum; offering visitors 360-degree views of the starry night sky. Located near Taunton in Devon, this area is well known for its breathtaking natural landscape, drawing in stargazers from not just the UK, but from all over the world. 

South Downs National Park

With rolling hills accompanying the starry skies, stargazers can enjoy a visit to the South Downs National Park. This National Park spans over three of the UK’s south coastal counties of Hampshire, East Sussex, and West Sussex. With the sheer amount of space on offer in South Downs, visitors can revel in unmatched views of the starry night sky. The term ‘downs’ comes from an Old English word meaning ‘hill’, an apt name for the National Park as its rolling hills add to the visual spectacle of the starry sky. With several locations noted by the National Park as the best viewpoints for stargazing, you won’t struggle to find an ideal spot to gaze at the stars.

If you’re planning a stargazing trip around the UK, don’t forget to book an Advance ticket via our website or the CrossCountry app. If you need more information, you can contact us here.

Written by Julia

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