At Herding Hill Farm, our Hadrian’s Wall campsite here in beautiful rural Northumberland, we are proud to be a Dark Sky Friendly Park and an astro-tourism destination in the North East. Our low levels of light pollution and focus on conserving the darkness of the pristine Northumberland skies means that we are a perfect location for a Northumberland stargazing glamping or camping adventure. A dark sky adventure can also help you connect with the nocturnal nature and landscape. Our glamping pods with hot tubs offer luxurious glamping accommodation on Hadrian’s Wall from which to watch the dark skies.
Northumberland National Park has some of the darkest skies in England. It was given International Dark Sky status in December 2013 by the International Dark Sky Association.
So, apart from Herding Hill Farm, where in Northumberland are the best spots for stargazing?
Northumberland is lucky to boast 4 stargazing observatories, one of them Twice Brewed Observatory is located just five minutes’ drive from our campsite Herding Hill Farm.
Twice Brewed Observatory is perfect for stargazing on Hadrian’s Wall at Twice Brewed. Located on the Military Road next door to The Sill National Landscape Discovery Centre and just a short walk from Steel Rigg and Sycamore Gap on Hadrian’s Wall, Twice Brewed Observatory is around 35 minutes’ drive from Newcastle. Even better their new custom-built on-site observatory is within easy reach of their restaurant and pub The Twice Brewed Inn, with its own microbrewery so you could combine supper and stargazing with real Northumberland cask ale. What is not to like about that? Their inspiring astronomical presentation are ideally suited for beginners and novices. Using large aperture telescopes you can enjoy a laser guided tour of the constellations. The stargazing team at the Twice Brewed Observatory comprises enthusiastic amateur astronomers - most of whom are former Kielder Observatory volunteers - as well as several academic experts and instrument scientists.
The world-famous Kielder Observatory is approximately 1 hour’s drive from our 5-star Northumberland campsite and is a magical and unique visitor attraction for Kielder stargazing in Northumberland. Built on stilts, the building is an architectural marvel and the sessions interesting and informative even if the weather is not so kind. And on a clear night the Kielder dark skies are truly spectacular. There are plenty of Kielder Observatory events, inviting the public to engage in discussions and observations of the Universe, astrophotography, aurora nights as well as events for young stargazing explorers. All Kielder observatory events sell out quickly so book early to avoid disappointment. The observatory is only open to visitors who are booked on a specific event. All stargazing events at Kielder take place late at night and the drive to Kielder, down twisted and narrow roads is a real adventure in itself, whether there are stars out or not! If you are lucky you might even spot a barn owl in flight in your headlights.
Battlesteads Dark Sky Observatory is located on the drive to Kielder in the tiny village of Wark on the edge of the Kielder Water & Forest Park under the very dark skies of the Northumberland International Dark Sky Park. Battlesteads Dark Sky Observatory is perfect for those who prefer an accessible, public astronomical observatory for Northumberland stargazing. The stargazing observatory offers the perfect compromise between the beautiful majesty of dark skies and the facilities offered by a 21st Century rural location. They offer talks, activities, stargazing and Astro courses from the beginner to the professional. Also attached to a hotel, the pub and restaurant serve locally Northumberland sourced produce, complimented by our own home-grown fruit and vegetables. Battlesteads Dark Sky Observatory is around 25 minutes’ drive from Herding Hill Farm Camping and Glamping site.
Stonehaugh Stargazing Pavillion is around 30 minutes’ drive from our Hadrian’s Wall campsite located in the village of Stonehaugh on the edge of Kielder Forest therefore it is perfect for Kielder stargazing. Designed by students from Newcastle University the pavilion was opened in July 2014. It is open to the public and holds frequent stargazing events.
Dark Sky Discovery Sites are a nationwide network of places that provide great views of the dark skies and which are accessible to everyone. They are located away from direct streetlighting and have good sightlines that aren’t blocked by buildings or trees. The sites are generally freely accessible to the public at all times. In short, Dark Sky Discovery Sites are the top local spots in Northumberland to see the stars. So where are the best Dark Sky Discovery Sites from Herding Hill Farm?
Go Stargazing has an excellent map showing the best stargazing sights in Northumberland. We are lucky to have three Dark Sky Discovery Sites less than 5 minutes’ drive from our Haltwhistle campsite.
Located just 1 mile from Herding Hill Farm, the spectacular setting of Cawfields Quarry attracts visitors day and night since it is also one of the best places for stargazing in the UK. From here you can walk East to Steel Rigg along one of the quietest but most spectacular sections of Hadrian's Wall. With soaring crags, a small lake and benches it’s a picturesque spot for a picnic or for watching the dark skies of Northumberland. There is a designated stargazing platform in the picnic area.
Walltown Quarry and Crags is a haven for wildlife, as well as being an excellent starting point for walks along Hadrian’s Wall. The views are spectacular. There is a Visitor Centre and a Peace Labryinth which gives you a chance to walk through thousands of willow plants in 20 different colours. It is also the perfect place to view the dark skies, with an events space being built during 2020.
Located just a short distance from Steel Rigg on Hadrian’s Wall and the Twice Brewed Observatory, the Sill National Landscape Discovery Centre regularly holds stargazing events. Only five minutes from Herding Hill Farm these are always popular events with our guests.
Avoid the use of artificial light outdoors wherever possible. This includes fairy lights. Make sure any outside lights are fully shielded or angled downwards, so that no light shines up into the night sky. Cool-white LED lighting can be disruptive to nocturnal wildlife so choose LED lights that emit a warm-white light. Avoid over-lighting and glare by choosing a low wattage LED light. A modern 5w LED bulb is equivalent to a 60w incandescent light bulb and is ideal for most domestic uses.