One of the biggest draws of getting outdoors with a tent and a sleeping bag is being able to sleep under the stars, but it’s thought that around 85% of us go without experiencing a truly dark night sky* and a clear view of the stars. As part of National Camping Month, experts in cosy, comfy thermal clothing Heat Holders has been looking at some of the best places across the UK to enjoy the best and biggest free light shows the world has to offer.
To be in with a chance of winning an essential Summer star gazing package then head to the bottom of the article to enter our competition.
1. Shetland, Scotland
The Northern Lights are the ultimate experience for any stargazer, and the best bet to catch a glimpse of the world-famous Aurora Borealis. Whilst the most likely time to witness the natural spectacle is October-March, the minimal light pollution in the region guarantees a fabulous view of the heavens either way. Wild camping is legal in Scotland, allowing visitors to get as far off the beaten track as they feel comfortable with.
2. Kielder, Northumberland
One of the largest Dark Sky parks in the world, Kielder is known to possess the darkest skies in the UK. The Kielder Observatory hosts an array of events across the year for both education on and enjoyment of the night sky. Children especially will enjoy the interactive Family Astronomy event that runs on Saturday evenings throughout June, but parents should ensure little ones are kept warm as temperatures can drop at night despite it being summer.
3. Headley Heath, Surrey
Finding a great spot for stargazing doesn’t have to mean a trip out to the wilds. Headley Heath is a short distance from London, just beyond the M25. The spot is very popular with astronomy groups and boasts a great community of wildlife as well as a wide skies peppered with stars. The terrain is reasonably flat with an accessible car park, making it good for families as well as grown-ups.
4. Surprise View, The Peak District
For those based in the Midlands the Peak District is not only a firm favourite for camping, but also offers the chance to see the Milky Way with the naked eye. Although some of the best scenes can be experienced at Surprise View near Hathersage, there’s no doubting that anywhere in the National Park will provide ample darkness for a beautiful evening spent admiring the stars.
5. Brecon Beacons, Wales
The rough and rugged landscape of the Brecon Beacons is a camping favourite, offering numerous spots to set up a tent. At night, it’s not uncommon to witness meteor showers as well as major constellations. On Wednesday the 21st, a special solar viewing stargazing event will be led from the Dark Sky Wales experts. Tickets include tea and scones and are priced at £15, but organisers advise to wrap up warm.
6. Exmoor National Park, Devon and Somerset
By day, explore the wonders of the national park and the semi-feral herds of native ponies, by night explore the wonders of the 3,000 visible to the naked eye in the skies above. The park has already organised its first Dark Sky Festival for later this year, so breath-taking views are guaranteed here. Exmoor was also the first International Dark Sky Reserve in Europe, an impressive draw for anyone who enjoys diverting their eyes skyward after sunset.
7. Bells of Hemscott, Northumberland
For those who prefer glamping to traditional tent and sleeping bag camping, the site near Druridge beach is ideal, offering both pre-pitched bell tents. The only lighting in the evening is by campfires, and due to the wonderful location, there’s minimal light pollution. Neighbouring the North Sea, take the opportunity to get as far out from civilization as possible and admire the astrology from the sands with nothing but the sea as a soundtrack.
8. Wicken Fen, Cambridgeshire
Although wild camping is restricted on the wetlands that make up the UK’s oldest nature reserves, stargazers can still get their fill from one of the rustic cabins in the area. Equip with eco loos and fire pits, share your appreciation for the twinkling above with an impressive community of wildlife Wicken Fen hosts. The cabins can host six adults or eight children, so this is the perfect place to take the kids and teach them their Ursa Major from their Big Dipper.
9. Beddgelert, Wales
Tranquil and steeped in local legend, Beddgelert is a starry mecca for campers. Situated in the famously stunning Snowdonia a short ten minute drive to the foot of Snowdon itself, the Beddgelert campsite possesses both toilets and shower, and is open all year round. The latter half of the month is set to offer good weather conditions to stargaze, but to ensure a clear view, it’s worth checking twenty-four hours in advance.
10. New Forest, South England
Whilst the New Forest National Park isn’t a designated Dark Sky area, it nonetheless boasts some impressive views of the night sky thanks to big efforts in conservation and awareness of light pollution. There are also an abundance of campsites to suit all levels of need from caravans, to cabins and traditional tent pitches. Prices for an overnight pitch for two adults range between £10.25 and £20 depending on location, with booking advised in the more popular months.
We are giving away a Summer star gazing essential package to one lucky winner, to make your Summer night absolutely perfect. Shane Doughty, Buying Director for Heat Holders said “Kicking back under a blanket with some warm socks is the ideal way to de-stress, reconnect with nature and allow your worries to fade away. Both the Heat Holders Snuggle Ups Blanket and Socks will help you stay snug, so all you have to worry about is spotting the constellations.”
With many Dark Sky discovery sites regulating the amount for unnatural light, campers should consider taking a torch to safely light their way, as well as warm and waterproof clothing.
The number one choice for anyone spending time in the great outdoors whether for work or play, Heat Holders offer a range of products for men, women and children. Featuring a market-leading 2.34 TOG rating, the Heat Holders Original Sock is a great partner for aspiring star-gazers this summer and beyond.
For more information and to purchase, visit the Heat Holder website.
We are offering one lucky winner a Summer stargazing essentials package containing the following:
- 1 x Heat Holders Snuggle Ups Blanket RRP £24.99
- 1 x Heat Holders Original Socks RRP £5.99
- 1 x Heat Holders Snug Over Jumper RRP £23.99