Did you know that North Devon is home to the UK’s first surf reserve? Yes? Ok, well did you also know that it was not only the UK’s first Dark Skies Reserve, but Europe’s too? Dark Skies Reserves are places with low levels of light pollution that are protected so that we can enjoy the beauty of the night skies. In fact, North Devon, particularly the Exmoor National Park, has long been one of the most notable stargazing locations in the UK, so much so, that every year, the National Park hosts its own Dark Skies Festival. If you want to experience the night sky, here are our top tips for the best locations and everything you need for a successful night with the stars.

Where to go stargazing

Stargazing is something you can do at any time of year and each season will give you a different view, and different comfort levels. This time of year will be colder than going in the summer for instance, but you will have more chance of a clear sky.

Our favourite places for stargazing are:

Valley of Rocks, Lynton

We have to mention the Valley of Rocks not only because it is incredibly beautiful by ay as well as by night, but it is also home to a herd of feral mountain goats and is one of the Exmoor’s Go Stargazing sites – somewhere that has been identified as a good stargazing location. There is parking close by too, making it a good place to start.

Poltimore Inn, Poltimore

Located on the outskirts of the Exmoor Dark Skies Reserve, this inn is a good place for all stargazers from novices to those that have been doing it for a lifetime. The location not only has an inn where you can warm up and grab refreshments, but also an observatory which gives you great opportunities to view the moon.

Molland Moor, South Molton

As a hill top viewpoint, this is somewhere with incredible views and plenty of nearby parking spots for convenience.

Brendon Common, Lynmouth

Another of the region’s Go Stargazing sites, Brendon Common is also one of the region’s best loved sunset spots, so why not get yourself comfy and enjoy both aspects of the sky?

Holdstone Down, Combe Martin

With a car park right next door, this is an easy place to pull up and enjoy the sights. This is one of the designated Dark Sky Discovery sites, which is somewhere anyone can stargaze.

Now you know where to go, here’s how to get the most out of stargazing.

  • Wear sensible clothes and shoes – some of the terrain will be uneven and if the weather is bad, can be slippery. You should also be prepared for the cold, as even in the summer, the National Park can get cold at night. 
  • Bring refreshments – even if you’re near to an inn, bring hot drinks and food with you.
  • Be comfortable – it can get uncomfortable standing and looking at the skies, so bring a chair or blanket so you can have a sit down.
  • Turn off the lights – once you have somewhere safe as your base, turn off your torches or any lights to reduce all light pollution.

Find out more about stargazing and dark skies