If you live in an urban area, you’ll rarely have the opportunity to enjoy dazzling starry displays, as light pollution affects your visibility. But the wide-open, dark skies of the Lake District National Park offer truly incredible vistas and stunning displays of the major constellations, magical shooting stars, and enchanting, shimmering nebulas.
There are two sites in the Lake District, both of which have been awarded Dark Sky Discovery status, making the Lakes the picture-perfect place to go for stargazing, all year-round.
Here are some of the best stargazing spots in the Lake District.
1. Ennerdale Water
Ennerdale Water is the most remote lake in the whole of the Lake District, and the valley in which it lies is the least populated. There isn’t even a public road running alongside the lake! That makes Ennerdale Water a fantastic location for stargazing.
East of Ennerdale Water, you’ll find Gillerthwaite Field Centre, which is an accredited Dark Sky Discovery Site for Cumbria and is also the first in North West England. The Field Centre holds free stargazing events during the year.
2. Friar’s Crag, Derwentwater
Friar’s Crag on the banks of Derwentwater is a gorgeous location to visit at any time of the day. Friar’s Crag is positioned looking straight into the “Jaws of Borrowdale,” so, at night, you can enjoy a breath-taking view of billions of twinkling stars over the rugged peaks of the Borrowdale Valley.
As you walk along an easy woodland path from Keswick to Friar’s Crag, you’ll need to watch out for scurrying night creatures, including badgers and hedgehogs.
3. Dockray, Ullswater
Ullswater is one of the most beautiful lakes in the Lake District, and Dockray’s night skies will leave you simply starstruck!
Ullswater was the inspiration for many artists and poets, including T.S. Elliot, who must have gazed in wonder at the dazzling night sky panorama many times during his visits to Dockray, so you’ll be treading hallowed ground when you come stargazing here!
4. Grizedale Forest
Grizedale Forest is situated between the Lakes of Windermere and Coniston, extending over 24 kilometres of tarns, hills, and woodland. There is little or no light pollution in this area, meaning that you can look forward to outstanding views of the starry night skies through the forest canopy.
You can enjoy regular stargazing events, including guided walks, when you will have the opportunity to wonder at the skies through a powerful telescope.
5. Blea Tarn, Little Langdale
Blea Tarn in the Langdale Valley is a Go Stargazing Site, thanks to its remote but safe location well away from urban light pollution. The carpark is sheltered by trees, but a short and simple walk will take you into the open space surrounding the tarn.
The rugged, craggy vista around the tarn makes for a magical backdrop for the views of icy white stars against an indigo night sky.
Wasdale is home to Scafell Pike, England’s highest mountain, the Lake District’s deepest lake, Wastwater, and England’s smallest church, St. Olaf’s.
After you’ve spent a leisurely day exploring Wasdale’s record-breaking features, wrap up warm and enjoy a night-time hike around the valley bottom to enjoy the fabulous night skies. The more experienced adventurer will relish a more strenuous walk to view the stars from one of the surrounding peaks, such as Yewbarrow and Great Gable.
7. Allan Bank, Grasmere
Grasmere was once home to one of England’s most famous romantic poets, William Wordsworth.
Allan Bank in Grasmere is one of the only two Dark Sky Discovery Sites found in Cumbria. This historic house nestles amid wooded grounds atop a small hill and is well away from sources of artificial light, making it the perfect spot for stargazing on a clear night.
Stargazing events are organised throughout the year, many coinciding with notable astral events, including meteor showers.
8. Whinlatter Forest
Whinlatter Forest is found above Bassenthwaite Lake and is England’s only true mountain forest.
From this elevated position, you'll feel closer to the stars and, when the nights are clear, and the moon is full, you can even see the Milky Way.
Idyllic Thirlmere occupies a small basin of perfect darkness. The only building on the lake is the Dale Head Hall, Lakeside Hotel, making this the ideal spot to escape from all ambient light and enjoy the night sky in all its unpolluted glory.
The best time to head outdoors to see the night sky is after the sun has fully set, and there's no bright moon to affect visibility. When booking your stargazing break in the Lakes, bear in mind that there are only two weeks in each month when the skies are completely dark.
Before you book your break, we would definitely suggest checking out the Go Stargazing dark sky calendar to choose the starriest nights.
Top Tips For Safe And Enjoyable Stargazing In The Lake District
Here are a few top tips for a safe, comfortable stargazing experience in the magical Lake District:
- Take a head torch! Dark skies mean a dark environment that’s not spoilt by artificial light. So, you will need to be able to see the ground at your feet when you’re moving around at night.
- When map reading, always use red light. Red light is much easier on your eyes and helps to keep your night vision clear.
- Remember to take a telescope or binoculars so that you can enjoy an even better view of those glorious stars!
- The coldest time of day is, unfortunately, the best time for stargazing. So, wrap up warm! Take blankets and a few extra layers. Also, a flask of hot tea or soup is also an excellent way of warming you up on a cold, starry night.
- Keep to the marked path unless you're experienced in night navigation. Although it can be tempting to go "off-piste," wandering away from the track can get you lost.
The night skies of the Lake District offer keen stargazers an unrivalled opportunity to enjoy spectacular views of constellations, heavenly bodies, and magical meteor showers. Windermere Marina Village offers luxury self-catering accommodation in Windermere, so why not enjoy a few nights away, surrounded by spectacular countryside by day, and enjoy the wonders of the heavens when night falls?