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Stars above Malham Tarn by Chris Werret

Campaign starts for ‘International Dark Sky Reserve’ bid

Tuesday 11 February, 2020, by News Release

Local businesses looking to conserve and enhance the Yorkshire Dales’ largely unpolluted dark sky at night have become the first to sign pledges of support for a bid to make the area an International Dark Sky Reserve.

On the eve of the fifth annual Dark Skies Festival, beginning this Friday (14 Feb), the Tennants Arms in Craven and the Low Mill Outdoor Centre in Richmondshire have spoken of the wonder of the Dales’ dark sky as well as of the commercial potential of ‘astro tourism’.

One of the Tennants Arms’ dark sky-inspired events – a full moon trail ride  in partnership with Kilnsey Trekking and Riding Centre – sold out so quickly, within two hours, that repeat events have been swiftly organised. 

It’s hoped that a bid for International Dark Sky Reserve status can be submitted by the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority later this year.   

As well as proving that the Yorkshire Dales meets minimum criteria on ‘sky quality and natural darkness’, the bid must provide evidence that local communities support dark sky conservation efforts. 

So, businesses, organisations and individuals are being invited to make their pledges of support online now

The Head of Low Mill Outdoor Centre in Askrigg, Terry Hailwood, explained why he was supporting the bid:  “The vast majority of visitors to Low Mill come from an urban area and it’s been a long standing tradition for groups on their first evening to go on a local night walk.  The abiding memory for many young visitors is how different the night sky is to their view at home.  

“I am a passionate believer that if we want future generations to care for and protect the environment, then they need to experience it. The dark sky above is another layer of the special environment in the Dales.  Low Mill Outdoor Education Centre is in full support of the International Dark Sky Reserve bid.”

General Manager of The Tennants Arms Hotel in Kilnsey, Liz Smailes, said: “The Dark Skies Festival events have attracted guests from London, Manchester, Liverpool, as well as Korean and Arabic visitors that most likely wouldn’t have stayed with us had we not offered this unique way to experience the Dales.

“Becoming a Dark Sky Reserve would help the local economy, bringing additional visitors in the low season months.  We’re extremely popular in summer but in winter we can go off the radar; we need to make it known that the Yorkshire Dales is not just a summer destination but a winter destination, too.

“Visitors may not think the sky is part of the Dales attraction, but once they get here, they’re often struck by how big and dark the night sky is – and just how far into space they can see.”

Member Champion for Promoting Understanding at the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority, Judith Donovan, added:  “We have done a great deal of work already towards becoming an International Dark Sky Reserve.  We’re now asking residents, and people who work and visit the area, to back our bid by signing the Dark Sky pledge of support – it takes only a minute.

“A dark night sky can boost wellbeing, benefit nocturnal wildlife and provide opportunities for education and tourism.  In the Yorkshire Dales, residents and visitors can often see thousands of stars at night, the Milky Way, and sometimes the northern lights. Designation as an International Dark Sky Reserve will help people looking to conserve and enhance the exceptional night sky in the Yorkshire Dales.” 

Obtaining Dark Sky Reserve status is objective A2 of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Management Plan 2019-24.

Picture of News Release

News Release

Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority


6 Replies to “Campaign starts for ‘International Dark Sky Reserve’ bid”

  1. John Raine says:

    Englands best kept secret should be kept in the dark!

  2. Richard Whiteley says:

    I feel so sad that any hope of dark sky’s in my locality has been totally scuppered by the introduction of the new led white lights – these make the skyear even lighter due to the reflection off the roads. They’re messing up the wildlife – we can here songbirds at midnight. We were not consulted on this by our local authority, and neither did they do an impact assessment on the detriment of these lights . Is there anything we can do ? Our Urban and suburban landscapes are becoming to appear like flood lit industrial sites . The beauty of our dark evenings gave been lost forever .I would very much appreciate your thoughts on this matter. Thanks

  3. Paul White says:

    A wonderful part of the UK which must be preserved with dark sky status

  4. Colin Day says:

    Next door to us (in Wensleydale) is a family who have their outside sodium lights burning all night long. This is because the police have advised them that this is the safest way to prevent burglars. Can nothing be done to advise them otherwise?

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