Places to sleep under the stars

It’s perfect for a camping trip, but you can’t take it with you. There’s enough of it for everyone, but only a few know how to get it. It’s always there, but you can’t always see it. What are we talking about? A starry sky of course.

Sleeping beneath the stars can be magical, but these days light pollution makes it tricky to find good stargazing spots. Luckily, our outdoor experts know of a few campsites and remote cottages with access to the greatest star-spangled views in the UK. One campsite that’s always popular with stargazers is the Brecon Beacons National Park, which has recently been awarded International Dark Sky status alongside many of our other places.

    The Brecon Beacons

    Very few areas of the UK get such dark skies and bright stars as the Brecon Beacons. Indeed, the area was recently awarded International Dark Sky status, making it the world’s fifth Dark Sky Reserve. Watch the Dark Skies time-lapse video to see what we’re talking about.

    For spectacular views of the Milky Way you can camp on Blaenglyn Farm, in the Tarell Valey. Facilities on this working farm are basic, but include water and toilets. For more information please contact Mrs Prosser on 01874 625072.

    If you’re thinking of taking a trip with a large group take a look at Dan y Gyrn bunkhouse. This wonderfully equipped, modern bunkhouse sleeps up to 15 people. We’ve been told by previous campers that it’s the perfect spot for walks, barbeques and watching the world turn.

    Clumber Park, Nottinghamshire

    ‘At night the absence of light pollution near Clumber Park provides an excellent opportunity for stargazing or the chance to see nocturnal wildlife. When the main gates close to the public anyone who is camping has the park to themselves, much like the Dukes of Newcastle in years gone by.’

    - Charlotte Jones, staff member at Clumber Park

    Wigwams and camping pods await you at Clumber Park. This glamping adventure is set in the heart of Sherwood Forest, with traditional camping available too.

    Wicken Fen, Cambridge

    See the night’s sky from our oldest nature reserve. The wetlands of Wicken Fen are an ideal spot for stargazing, with incredibly low levels of light pollution.

    Get back to nature in one of Wicken Fen’s rustic log shelters. Each shelter sleeps six adults or eight children and comes with a fire pit, an eco loo and surrounded by an abundance of wildlife. In fact Wicken Fen is home to over 8,500 different species.

    There’s also plenty to do when the only star in the sky is the sun. You can hire bikes, go geocaching, explore the nature trails or go on a boat trip.

    * Please note that camping is restricted to the wild campsite. Only wildlife can sleep on the reserve.

    Book Wicken Fen Campsite: email Wicken Wild Camping or call 01353 720274.

    Castle Ward, Downpatrick

    Tucked away in a stunning 820 acre estate are four eco friendly camping pods, a caravan park, a bunkhouse and a campsite. In the day you can explore 35km of winding trails through woodland, gardens and parklands.

    Standard pods or family pods are available, with lockable French doors and heating for cooler nights. Visitors are always telling us how wonderful the stars look from Castle Ward at night, so this is a great location for any would-be astronomers.

    The South Downs

    Gumber Bothy campsite is in the South Downs National Park, which is currently applying to become an International Dark Sky Reserve. This would grant the park official protection and kudos as one of the world’s top places to see the stars.

    Earthworks and artefacts pepper the landscape of the South Downs. This is an area valued for rare habitats, stunning wildlife and history. What better place for stargazing than against this wild and ancient backdrop?

    Gumber Bothy campsite offers a peaceful retreat in a converted flint barn. You can stay in one of the barn’s three dorms and use the kitchen and hot showers. Or if you prefer, you can camp out in the starlight.

    The Lake District

    The Lake District is a stargazer’s paradise. With unusually low levels of light pollution and many mountainous peaks it’s a great place to get closer to the stars.

    We have a wide range of camping options within this region. Wasdale campsite sits in the shadow of England’s highest mountain, Scarfell Pike. If you’re after a peaceful spot to enjoy the outdoors and a dark sky then this is it. Glampers are spoilt for choice at Low Wray with its selection of wooden cabins, lakeshore yurts and American Indian Tipis.

    Rose Castle Cottage, Coniston, Lake District

    If you fancy a bit of luxury, why not stay at Rose Castle Cottage with its breathtaking views of the Lake District. This delightful and simple 19th-century cottage is situated high above Tarn Hows, the iconic Lake District spot. This is truly a tranquil location with no neighbours on the horizon and few of the trappings of modern life. It's ideal for walkers with fantastic walks right from the doorstep, and its rural location makes for some excellent stargazing.

    Prattshayes Campsite and Bunkhouse, Exmouth

    Prattshayes is located in the rural outskirts of Exmouth, just a one mile stroll away from Exmouth beach. It’s perfect for exploring one of our favourite night walks; the Teign Valley stargazing walk is less than a 30 minute drive away.

    This walk is perfect for anyone who is unfamiliar with astronomy. It’s also good for spotting nocturnal creatures, such as bats, moths and badgers. Our step by step guide starts at Castle Drogo, taking you on a tour of the area and the evening sky.

    High Lidmoor Farmhouse, North Yorkshire Moors

    On the east slopes of Bransdale with outstanding views down the valley, High Lidmoor Farmhouse sleeps 5 and is the perfect, isolated holiday retreat. Surrounded by open moor land, this 18th-century farmhouse is ideal for exploring the North York Moors and coast and a perfect space for spotting stars.



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