Heavens above: Lakeland park reveals its dark side
Stargazing guests at a Lake District holiday park, Skelwith Fold in Ambleside, can now plan their visits to coincide with the best views of the night sky.
The park says that its lack of light pollution is proving a big draw among many holidaymakers, and wants to encourage even more families to reconnect with the universe.
Its latest way of doing so is to provide live data on its website about when the stars will look most stunning from Skelwith Fold’s 130 acres of dark-sky parkland.
The phase of the moon, cloud coverage, nightfall times and other data are all provided, together with an at-a-glance stargazing rating for every day over the coming month.
Park director Henry Wild said that growing numbers of families taking a staycation this year are waking up to the dazzling beauty of the night sky:
“Gazing at the stars is especially popular with people who live in towns and cities, and who have never seen the mystical splendour of the heavens,” he said.
“For children especially, it’s a fantastic experience to venture out after dark and see sights such as the Milky Way, steaks of meteors, neighbouring planets, and the glow of other galaxies.
“Because Skelwith Fold is elevated and surrounded by mountains, there’s very little light pollution which means the night sky can look ravishing on a clear night.
“Now our guests can use our website to assess the stargazing conditions during their visit, and see up-to-the-minute readings on factors such as cloud cover.
“Some might even use the data to set their alarm clock if, for example, they can see that the skies will be at their best in the early hours of the morning,” said Henry.
The readings are linked to the park’s own weather station which uses meteorological equipment on its reception roof to generate readings and forecasts.
It was installed, said Henry, to present a true picture of the weather in the area which, due to its micro-climate, often differs from the rest of the county.
As well as conditions such as temperature, wind speed and rainfall, the station also shows the height of the cloud base, intensity of UV radiation, humidity, windchill, and a host of other data.
The information is especially valuable to walkers – and now the park’s starry-eyed visitors can also obtain their own outlook:
“It’s been estimated that over ninety percent of people in Britain are totally unable to see the stars, and have never enjoyed the amazing spectacle of a clear night sky,” said Henry.
“Here we can help them reconnect with the universe, and if it also encourages youngsters to look up at the sky instead of down at their mobile devices, so much the better!” he added.
Skelwith Fold was this year crowned as Lakeland’s top holiday park in the Cumbria Tourism Awards, and provides luxury glamping pods, touring pitches, and holiday homes for private owners.
The live stargazing and climate readings can be found by clicking “Weather Feed” on the park’s website at www.skelwith.com. Choose a day, and scroll down to the “astronomy” link.