With darker autumn nights closing in, we look towards the Milky Way and ask the folks from coolcamping.com for their tips on where to camp for the very best of the night sky.
August has been and gone, days are getting shorter and temperatures are getting cooler. You could be forgiven for thinking the time to put away your tent is drawing near. Don’t be too hasty, however. After a rainy summer, the weather is finally starting to brighten up across the UK and with the coming of early evening darkness comes some of the extra joys that a camping holiday brings – evenings keeping warm around a campfire, mornings sleeping in and dark, starry skies where you can hunt for shooting stars and satellites. To help you find the best spot for enjoying the night’s sky, we’ve asked the experts at coolcamping.com for their pick of five fantastic places for stargazing in the UK…
The easiest way to see the stars is to go somewhere far-flung and remote. For that, this 22-acre escape on Scotland’s sleepy Cowal Peninsula certainly fits the bill. Glendaruel Campsite sits in a hollow at the foot of its eponymous glen, shrouded by woodland and utterly void of any light pollution. There are only 10 pitches for tents, most set in a generously sized grassy field away from the caravans and statics, and red squirrels and rabbits often outnumber campers. Bring blankets and binoculars and you’re all set!
Camping at Ynysfaen, Brecon Beacons
Just one mile from the Usk Reservoir – recently named the darkest location in the Brecon Beacons Dark Skies Reserve – Ynysfaen campsite is a simple, family-run location with room for around 40 campers at any one time and a welcoming pub within easy walking distance. Campfires are permitted and small campervans are also welcome on site. The owner, Jane, is a Dark Skies Ambassador and knows her Orion from her Ryanair. She’ll happily talk astronomy as you stargaze.
Wild Camping Cornwall, Cornwall
Set just back from Cornwall’s Penwith Heritage Coast, this tiny, off-grid campsite has just two huge tent pitches, along with a pre-pitched bell tent and a shepherd’s hut for glampers. Its rural location, plus the vast emptiness of the Atlantic, means light pollution is minimal and starry nights are almost always guaranteed. Campfires are permitted and there’s an adjacent 20-acre wood to explore. Walk the half-mile to sandy Portheras Cove or ramble inland to Watch Croft, the highest point in West Penwith with views of the clifftop mines seen in the BBC’s Poldark series.
Beddgelert Campsite, Snowdonia
Run by the Camping in the Forest group – who operate campsites on Forestry Commission land across the UK – this vast woodland site in North West Wales harks back to traditional camping of old. It’s nothing too fancy; pitches are large, flat and well laid out, whilst ablution facilities (showers, toilets and washbasins) are on the basic side but the location, next to charming Beddgelert village, is an instant winner. Pitch in the most open meadow spots for the best of the stars.
Dogwood Cottage Camping, Sussex
Despite its convenient proximity to London and the towns of the South East, this homely campsite in the village of Brede feels wonderfully cut off from its surroundings. Trees and hedgerows provide shelter, there’s a small pond and, while facilities are fairly basic – two toilets, a hot shower and a washing up sink – they’re faultlessly well-kept. A footpath by the gateway leads you out across the surrounding High Weald area, though by night you’re best staying put to get the best of the stars. A recent camper even shot this video of a meteor shower from the camping meadow…
Based on their leading guidebooks, the Cool Camping website now offers an online collection of the very best camping and glamping sites in the UK and Europe. You can book all of the campsites above and more on coolcamping.com