Image credit: Keith Trueman
Exmoor is well documented for its vast greenery and walking routes but did you know it is also home to Europe’s first International Dark Sky Reserve? Making it one of the best places in the UK to stargaze. For thousands of years, humans have looked up at the sky and wondered what was above; this helped to define our sense of who we are, myths and legends and our place in the wider cosmos. For many places in the world, stargazing is impossible due to light pollution however Exmoor’s clear sky means stargazing can continue to be enjoyed by those who want to visit and re-discover that sense of wonder by witnessing many astronomical sights, no only with binoculars and telescopes, but also with the naked eye.
Saturday 11th January 2020 | Dunkery Beacon Moonrise and Sunset
Wildaboutexmoor will be hosting a fantastic event whereby you can climb to the top of Dunkery Beacon as the sun sets over Exmoor. You can enjoy sundowners and a chat about the night skies with other attendees as you then wait as a full moon rises over the sea. Following this experience, you will return to base camp for hot drinks where telescopes will then be provided so you can get some astrophotography shots. Warm clothes will be essential as well as walking shoes for this great chance to experience Exmoor’s dramatic dark skies.
This event is £30 per adult, children are £15 however younger attendees should be at least 8 years old. You can book here.
Saturday 15th February 2020 | Stargazing Night Hike and Farmhouse Supper
Meeting at the lounge at the Crown, Exford and then walking up Exe Valley Way, you will make your way onto the moor as darkness falls and the stars illuminate the night sky. Wildaboutexmoor will talk you through how you can use apps on phones and tablets to understand constellations and star formations which you can then use for your own stargazing adventures. The walk will then take you back down to the farmhouse to use their telescopes to demonstrate your new found knowledge of the stars. The Crown and The White Horse, both in Exford, are offering a discount on dinner and accommodation if you fancy making this event into a weekend adventure.
There is a £20 charge for adults, £10 for children (over 8 years old only). For more information click here.
Wednesday 8th April 2020 | Rangers' Guided Walk
Join a National Park Ranger to discover the natural beauty of Exmoor. You will enjoy an adventure to the highest point of Exmoor which leads you to see the wonderful Supermoon (the moon will be located on the opposite side of the Earth as the Sun and therefore will be fully illuminated and will be a sight not to be missed). This walk is around four miles and will include narrow paths and hills but will be the perfect way to enjoy Exmoor’s dark skies.
If you’d like to join, there’s no need to book in advance, simply meet at Webbers Post car park at 6.45pm on the night. Donations to CareMoor will be collected on the night with a recommended £3 minimum donation but the more the better to help such a great cause to preserve Exmoor’s charm.
16th to 31st October 2020 | Exmoor Dark Skies Festival
As daylight hours begin to fade, October is a great time to celebrate the skies at the annual Exmoor Dark Skies Festival. Whilst the festival details are yet to be announced for this year, there will be a plethora of stargazing events for you to choose from for all the family. Like previous years, there will be everything to choose from including astrophotography workshops, night walks and pub suppers which provide a truly immersive experience into the depths of Exmoor’s beautiful area of natural beauty. If you’ve yet to get involved it’s definitely one for the bucket list as you’ll be guaranteed to come away amazed by the allure of the skyscape that is right on our doorstep. Event details will be added here closer to the time so you can begin planning your itinerary.
More events can be found on the Exmoor National Park website.
Image credit: Exmoor National Park
Create Your Own Stargazing Adventure
North Devon and Exmoor is part of England’s Adventure Coast, and stargazing is the perfect adventure that encourages people to neglect modern technology and really engage in the real world and get lost in the sky above.
Wild camping in Exmoor is another great option as the majority of camping opportunities on Exmoor are semi-wild and sit in hidden valleys giving you both shelter and tranquility. Not only are you in and amongst the most beautiful wildlife that North Devon has to offer, you will be surrounded by a blanket of stars shining above you, the perfect way to unwind with the family. The majority of land in Exmoor is privately owned, so it would be best to book your accommodation in advance.
If you’d like to explore Exmoor at your own pace, there are lots of different routes available on the wildaboutexmoor website where they provide information on time, distance, terrain and maps to follow. It’s a fantastic choice if you have a dog too as they love running free in and amongst the rolling hills.