Updated: Aug 24
Crisp nights stargazing on Exmoor with an expert astronomer, experiencing a wildlife safari at dusk or photographing the stars - just three of over 50 events that are taking place during the Exmoor Dark Sky Festival this October all around the stunning Exmoor National Park.
Woodlands House & Woodleigh Cottage provide the perfect bases for amateur and professional stargazers alike, with their log fires and central heating, fully-equipped kitchens and comfortable beds - you'll soon be warm and cosy on your return from exploring the night skies!
Exmoor Dark Skies Festival 2022
The sixth Exmoor Dark Skies Festival takes place from Thursday 13th October to Sunday 30th October 2022. With a variety of festival events for families and adults.
Guided stargazing sessions and night walks, wellbeing retreats, talks and on-line presentations and workshops by expert astronomers and dark skies ambassadors, nocturnal wildlife events, astro-themed craft sessions, family astro-themed parties under the stars and more.
You can find a list of Exmoor Dark Skies Festival Events here.
Or download your own Exmoor Dark Skies Festival brochure here.
Exmoor at night photography competition winner - Laurence Liddy
Dark Skies on your doorstep
With rising levels of light pollution across the UK, fewer people are able to witness the beauty of the heavens where they live. So we are tremendously lucky to live in one of the UK’s International Dark Places. Exmoor provides some of the darkest skies in the country while relatively accessible via the motorway network (Junction 27, off the M5) and by rail via Tiverton Parkway station and minicab.
Where to spot the stars on Exmoor
From Dulverton, you can travel to sites popular for stargazing such as Haddon Hill, above Wimbleball Reservoir to the East, or Molland Common to the West. Further North you can observe the stars from Exmoor’s highest point, Dunkery Beacon, or Brendon or Porlock Commons. With minimal light pollution on a clear night you can see The Milky Way, thousands of stars and astronomical sights, without the need for a telescope.
Exmoor: Gateway to the Cosmos
Help for star spotters
The Exmoor National Park Authority (ENPA) which was instrumental in Exmoor acquiring its Dark Sky Reserve status, provides a useful pocket guide for residents and visitors, keen to enjoy the night sky during their stay. Download the Exmoor Dark Skies Pocket Guide for yourself. Alternatively, pick one up at Dulverton’s Exmoor Park office at the Guildhall Heritage Centre on Fore Street, where you can also book out a powerful telescope on a per night basis and there’s a wide selection of guides on local wildlife, walks to take and how Exmoor has evolved over the centuries.
How to prepare for stargazing
Like any outdoor activity, it pays to plan and prepare your Exmoor Stargazing quest. So here’s a quick checklist of things to get together to make the most your big night out viewing the cosmos!
Binoculars or a telescope - a good pair of binoculars will show as much as 50 times more than the naked eye, so a pair that not too heavy, could be handy. Plus you can use them for spotting wildlife during the day. If you get bitten by the stargazing bug, then a quality telescope is a good investment
Camera and Tripod - once you have this correctly set up you can capture some beautiful images to enjoy and share afterwards.
Seating - bring something comfortable to sit or lie on, if you plan to while away the hours gazing at the stars
Warm and waterproof clothing - even in the Summer! It can get chilly at night so make sure you wear plenty of layers to ward off the cold night air.
Snacks and warm drinks - to keep you going as you lose yourself in the awesomeness of the universe.
Plus - don't forget to arm yourself with plenty of patience and time for your viewing the cosmos! It takes 20 minutes for your eyes to acclimatise to the dark, then you should be good to go.
Visiting Exmoor Dark Sky Reserve with Woodlands Holidays
Woodlands House and Woodleigh Cottage are ideally situated to explore and enjoy Exmoor. Both in Dulverton, near the National Park headquarters, tourist office and history centre, they are a good base from which to organise your stargazing.
We look forward to welcoming you and helping you enjoy your stay anytime of the year.