Christmas Stargazing in the Lake District
A Celestial Christmas Treat
Ogle neighbouring planets such as Venus or Jupiter; the glow of other galaxies like Andromeda will hypnotise; the vastness of our Milky Way will leave you in awe; and the fleeting streak of a meteor feels like a celestial gift like no-other this Christmas.
Light pollution means that for many we don’t get to see these remarkable sights, but the brilliance of stargazing in the Lake District will astound you. Plus, you’ll get to see the Lake District’s nocturnal wildlife too.
Essential Stargazing Accessories
Whilst previously a stargazing map was an essential tool, today the number one must-have when star gazing is a night sky app. This makes identifying what you’re looking at in the sky so easy, leaving you time to take in the wonders. The Stargazer’s Guide by Emily Winterburn is, however, a superb starter for anyone wanting to become a bit of an expert themselves and to impress friends. We also rate Lake District astrologer Lyn Birbeck’s Do It Yourself Astrology and The Astrological Oracle. Online, the BBC’s Stargazing Live is also an excellent resource.
On a practical note, don’t forget a torch and warm gear, especially hat and gloves. Reusable hand warmers, which you crack to activate, are superb and kids in particular love them. A foldaway camping chair and thermos flask filled of mulled wine is always a winner. And for pro’s, a good astrocamera, of which Cannon are popular for capturing the night sky, are a must. Look out for a feature called ‘Live View’ and use the delay function to make sure you don’t wobble the camera as you shoot. Or, you can purchase a cable release to take shots without touching the body of the camera.
If you’re buying a stargazing telescope take weight and size into account as you’re going to be carrying the kit.
Top Spots for Lake District Stargazing
As well as Grizedale Forest and Wasdale Head, Crummock Water car park in the western Lakes is a good spot for taking in some astrology. Another of the western Lake’s remote spots perfect for stargazing is Low Gillerthwaite Field Centre, Ennerdale, which has open access to walkers and cyclists. If you’re taking a car, give them a call prior to turning up to avoid being sent away. Also in Ennerdale, Bowness Knott car park is a good spot to park up and a nearby off-road layby allows open views of the night sky.
Top Tips for Stargazing
You want height, uninterrupted views and to be away from as much light population as you can. This is what makes the Lake District such an idea place to enjoy some stargazing.
Grizedale Forest is elevated and has lots of viewing spots, which are perfect for setting up your astro viewing centre. Wasdale is the most remote and widest valley in the Lake District and the night sky is simply enormous here. You can drive to Wasdale Head car park, which makes lugging kit that bit easier. Plus, there’s a superb nearby pub, Wasdale Head Inn.
To avoid disappointment, check weather forecast regularly before heading out as the weather can change quickly in the Lake District, especially in elevated spots.
Stargazing Events in the Lake District
If you fancy some guidance, head to a stargazing event in the Lake District this Christmas. Grizedale Forest are offering moonwatch, Jupiterwatch as well as a Dark Sky Festival and meteor and stargazing.
The National Trust sometimes host kid-friendly stargazing events at former home of William Wordsworth – Allen Bank, Grasmere. Indeed, Wordsworth compared the Lake District’s daffodils to “the stars that shine and twinkle on the Milky Way”.
In the Lake District we spend a lot of time looking around us. This Christmas, wait for the cover of darkness and look up at the wonder of the night sky. You are in for a treat.