International Dark Sky Reserves

in North York Moors in Yorkshire Dales

The Yorkshire Dales and North York Moors National Parks are designated International Dark Sky Reserves, part of an exclusive global family of Dark Sky Places. 

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The Yorkshire Dales and North York Moors are home to some of the darkest skies in the country, with large areas of unpolluted night sky where it’s possible to see thousands of stars, the Milky Way, meteors and even the Northern Lights.

As part of a coordinated approach by the two National Parks, the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA), granted Reserve status to both areas, which combined cover over 3500 km2 of northern England.

Find out more

Discovery Sites, North York Moors National Park

“One of my favourite places is at Keldy in North Yorkshire” reveals Colin Daley at the West Yorkshire Astronomical Society. “It’s within Forestry Commission land, where there’s very little light pollution.”

Dalby Forest, North York Moors National Park

One of the three Dark Skies Discovery Sites in the North York Moors, Dalby Forest. Scarborough & Ryedale Astronomical Society hold regular stargazing events in Dalby Forest. 


Nearby accommodation:

Kingfisher Cottage

Dalby Forest Dr, Pickering YO18 7LP, UK

Heron Cottage

Dalby Forest Dr, Pickering YO18 7LP, UK

The Moors National Park Centre Danby, North Yorkshire

Located on the banks of the River Esk, near Danby, this centre is surrounded by moorland, woodland, farmland and historic buildings. It’s a quiet spot in the North York Moors far away from light pollution, making it another special place to view the stars at night.


Nearby accommodation:

New Stable Cottage

Danby, YO21 2LH, United Kingdom

Daffodil Cottage, Whitby

Danby, YO21 2LH, United Kingdom

The Fox & Hounds

45 Brook Lane, Danby, YO21 2LD, United Kingdom

Sutton Bank National Park Centre, Hambleton, North Yorkshire

Famous Yorkshire vet James Herriot named a view from Sutton Bank over the Vale of Mowbray and the Vale of York as the “Finest in England” – but the view at night is just as spectacular. This area is also named as an official Dark Sky Discovery Site.


Nearby accommodation:

Jackson Cottage

Jacksons Cottages, Station Rd, Thirsk YO7 1QE, UK

Manor Farm Cottage

1 Manor Farm Cottages, Little Thirkleby, Thirsk, YO7 2BA

The Byre

Thirsk, YO7 2HJ, United Kingdom

Discovery Sites, Yorkshire Dales National Park

Some of the world’s best stargazing locations are closer to home and the Yorkshire Dales National Park has four Dark Sky Discovery Sites; Scar House Reservoir (Access is via a 4 mile tarmac road from Lofthouse Village, HG3 5SW – try Middlesmoor for accommodation), Buckden Car Park (DL8 5JA), Dales Countryside Museum Car Park, Hawes (DL8 3NT), Tan Hill Inn on the road from Reeth to Brough (DL11 6ED) – areas with minimal light pollution and great sightlines of the sky. 

The Tan Hill Inn near Keld, Swaledale

Aurora Borealis from Swaledale: Phil Silverman / Shutterstock

As the highest pub in Britain, the Tan Hill Inn is unsurprisingly a brilliant place to stargaze. It stands at 1,732 feet above sea level and is situated near the village of Keld. It’s also a top spot to catch a glimmer of the Northern Lights.


Nearby accommodation:

Alpine Cottages No. 4

Reeth, DL11 6TN, United Kingdom

The Little Barn

Rear Silver Street sn, Reeth, DL11 6SP, United Kingdom

Ivy Cottage Bed & Breakfast

Richmond, Reeth, DL11 6SF, United Kingdom

Hawes National Park Centre, Hawes, Richmondshire

The car park at the Dales Countryside Museum, just outside Hawes, is an area with, particularly minimal light pollution. Stargazers can park here for free between 7pm and 6am.


Nearby accommodation:

The Old Surgery

Hawes, DL8 3NN, United Kingdom

The Little Bower

Hawes, DL8 3NJ, United Kingdom

The Hayloft, Hawes

Hawes, DL8 3NN, United Kingdom

Buckden National Park car park, Buckden, North Yorkshire, BD23 5JA

Another great spot to start off your stargazing is Buckden. As a Dark Sky Discovery Site, this location is accessible to all members of the public and is a great place to view the night sky. Check the weather forecast before you set out to ensure you’ll have a clear night.


Nearby accommodation:

Rowan Cottage, Skipton

Buckden, BD23 5JA, United Kingdom

Grange Cottage, Skipton

Buckden, BD23 5JE, United Kingdom

The Buck Inn

Buckden Nr. Skipton, Buckden, BD23 5JA, United Kingdom

Malham National Park Centre, Malham, North Yorkshire BD23 4DA

Malham has a busy tourist office during the day, but at night the car park transforms into an impressive spot to view the inky, dark skies. There’s free parking in the evenings and it’s fully accessible on foot or by bicycle.


Nearby accommodation:

Town Head Farm

Malham, BD23 4DJ, United Kingdom

The Threshing Floor at Tennant Barn

Malham, BD23 4DA, United Kingdom

The Hayloft at Tennant Barn

Malham, BD23 4DA, United Kingdom

Yorkshire Dark Skies Images

Patient photographers and astronomers across Yorkshire take to the outdoors during night hours for the perfect night sky image:

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Related Accommodation

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Country Hideaways

Margarets Cottage, West Burton, Leyburn, North Yorkshire, DL8 4JN, United Kingdom

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