The Northumberland National Park is out of this world for stargazing and astronomy as it officially has the darkest skies in England. On a clear night, you can see millions of stars, the Milky Way and even the Andromeda Galaxy (2.5 million light years away) with the naked eye in the dark skies. Every night, there is something different to see, from meteor showers to the Northern lights. Many photographers visit the area and book Dark Sky Friendly self catering holiday accommodation such as a cottage or B&B for exciting astrophotography opportunities! Northumberland has its own Astronomical Society too, NASTRO.
International Dark Sky Park
Dark Sky Discovery Sites
Some specific places in Northumberland have been designated because of parking and facilities such as toilets and nearby pubs – take a look at the full list of Dark Sky Discovery Sites. There is one at Alwinton at the foot of the Cheviot Hills, less than 2 miles from Drakestone Cottage and another at Cawfields near Hadrian’s Wall, about 12 miles from Stanegate Cottage.
Alwinton Car Park
Alwinton is located on in the Upper Coquet Valley in the northern half of the Northumberland International Dark Sky Park.
The site is located on a quiet road opposite The Rose and Thistle pub: Gallow Law, Alwinton, Morpeth NE65 7BQ
Cawfields Quarry Car Park
On the B6318
Your guide to the essentials you’ll need to have for looking at our Dark Skies at sites like Alwinton and Cawfields. View the Beginner’s Astronomer’s Checklist, which we have printed out for your use where you will also find a stargazing kit for use during your stay, including binoculars, red-lens torches and stargazing books/information. There are checklists in both of our cottages.
Find out what you can see in Northumberland’s dark skies during the year, at sites like Alwinton and Cawfields, with our month by month Stargazing Calendar and Stargazing Charts. There is also a useful binocular guide available too.
There is a lot more information on the Northumberland National Park website about Northumberland’s dark skies.
Kielder Observatory is one of the most amazing places to visit in the UK. It is a public astronomical observatory which is second to none, under some of the darkest skies in the world where you’ll find “infinite inspiration” and wonders you could never have imagined! Our self-catering holiday accommodation cottages are within an hour’s drive of here, an ideal base for visiting Kielder Water and Forest. Many of our self catering guests visit Northumberland and Kielder as our cottage accommodation is ideal for walking, cycling, mountain biking, birdwatching, fishing and sailing in this area.
The observatory gets very busy so it is essential to book a visit in advance.