Dark Sky Locations for Stargazing in Wales

In the near future, more adventure travellers will bein the pursuit of dark sky locations. Wales – having launched an official astro-tourism trail comprised of six new sites in addition to three previously established dark sky locations along the route – is being touted as the next astro-travel destination.

The rise of astro-tourism in an age of uncertainty

Wales’ new stargazer trail couldn’t be more timely. Astro-tourism or astro-travel is on the rise and that could be for two reasons. Towards the end of last year, The New reported that we’re living in an age of uncertainty where people are trying to divine meaning by connecting with something larger – more millennials are putting their faith in astrology. The more obvious reason is that stars are bloody beautiful – and thanks to light pollution, we don’t get to see them as often anymore.

The existential lure of the cosmos has fascinated humankind since the dawn of time. Centuries and centuries of technological and emotional innovation are a direct result of gazing into the endless night sky to understand everything from Earth’s rotation and how to visit the moon to more mystical things like divination and how stars and planets can shape the course of our lives.

If recent media soundbites are anything to go by, as a way to cope with uncertainty, millennials are turning to astrology. Editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan has expanded the magazine’s print coverage of astrology to nine pages in every issue. Cosmo Readers are hooked on astrology, 74% say they are obsessed with astrology, and 72% check their horoscope every day. This could very well be why astro-tourism is on the rise – it’s time for astrology nerds and stargazers to shine.

In a way, astro-tourism or astro-travel is a clever riff on something mere mortals, astrology lovers and wannabe space explorers have been doing unknowingly for decades – stargazing, looking for meteor showers, unique moon sightings and eclipses – just a little more mainstream.

More people than ever before are looking to escape to the stars on their travels. There’s something about looking up into the cosmos that gives us mental clarity, a sense of meaning, and connection while delivering an experience that allows us to leave the trappings of our daily lives behind and transcend towards something infinitely greater.

The Cambrian stargazer trail in Wales

Located in the Cambrian Mountains – just over 50 miles long – Wales’ stargazer trail winds through scenic woodland and encompasses six new sites that have been awarded Dark Sky status in addition to three previous locations already on the route. Sites with this designation are awarded as such because they have taken steps to restrict artificial light pollution.

Devoid of light pollution, the Cambrian Mountains provide epic sightlines of the night sky. Wales’ Dark Sky Discovery sites are considered among the UK’s best spots to glimpse at celestial beauties such as Orion, The Plough and the North Star. Armed with a Cambrian Mountains & Elan Valley Dark Sky Guide which details what to look out for throughout the year and pair of binoculars or telescope – visitors can easily explore the nine sites found on the trail over the course of a few nights.

Wales’ six new dark sky locations

Wales’ best stargazing spots are located in the wilderness of the Cambrian Mountains – but all of them are easily accessed. During the day, you can spend time on Wales’ astro-tourism trail exploring the abundant wildlife, stopping to eat and drink in one of the many pubs dotted along the way, and basking in the stirring Welsh countryside.

Once the sun sets and darkness falls – you only need to lookup. For those who are not able to trek to a remote location, fear not! All sites – both old and new – are accessible and offer stunning views of the sky from their car parks!

Dark sky locations in the United Kingdom

If you can’t get to Wales but find yourself on tour in and around these locations, they also offer some pretty amazing astro-tourism opportunities.

  1. Cotswolds : Observe the heavens from the Rollright Stone Circle near Chipping Norton.
  2. The Peak District: This region is blessed with dark skies, but the top three spots are Surprise View, Parsley Hay and Minninglow.
  3. Northern England: You’ll find stargazing spots in a number of national parks in Yorkshire Dales and Northumberland.
  4. Scotland: There are also a number of places in the Scottish Highlands where you can blink into the cosmos. The Cairngorms and Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park on the mainland are great choices, but if you’re truly an adventurer head to Isle of Coll in the Inner Hebrides. It’s been crowned Dark Sky Island by the International Dark Sky Association.

Read Previous

What to do in the Quarters of Jerusalem

Read Next

Wales’ six new dark sky locations