The Brecon Beacons in Mid-Wales are home to the UK’s first International Dark Sky Reserve, being accredited in February 2013. On bright nights, you can see nebula, constellations, the Milky Way and even meteor shows. Residents are very keen to uphold this status making the Brecon Beacons National Park the best place in the UK to stargaze. So here’s our guide the 10 best locations to enjoy the night sky.
A ancient lake full of history, remarkable archaeological finds have been pulled from these dark waters. Above, the sky is awash with stars. Perfect for romantic stargazing, Llangorse Lake in the heart of the Brecon Beacons is accessible yet secluded. There are all sorts of legends associated with it, most going back thousands of years.
This beautiful medieval Priory, situated just off a small lane between Abergavenny and Hay-on-Wye, was home to Cistercian monks until the reformation. Now a campsite and hotel, there is a magical quality to the surroundings, enclosed as they are, on all sides by great hills and mountains. A place to pitch the tent, lie on your back and stare into the night sky, captivated.
One of the most spectacular ruined castles in South Wales, Carreg Cennen perches high on a rocky hillside overlooking miles of secluded countryside. An excellent location for that surprise proposal, you cannot get more romantic than this fairy tale location.
Watching the stars reflect into a stretch of water is quite mesmerising, and the Usk Reservoir, which crosses the borders of Powys and Carmarthenshire to the south west of the Brecon Beacons, is a great spot to indulge. Close to Swansea, yet protected from light pollution, the reservoir was completed in 1955 to ensure a good supply of water to the Swansea valleys. It is served by the River Usk, before it snakes its way though the countryside and out into the Bristol Channel at Newport.
One of the highest mountains in the Brecon Beacons, this bleak, isolated spot provides a stark background for the outstanding light show above.
Shadowing the Monmouthshire market town of Abergavenny, Sugar Loaf Mountain has an excellent and accessible carpark at its foot, taking away the necessity of any real hiking in the dark. Roll down the windows and watch the little lights twinkle in the valley below, whilst above the heavens are at their best.
A little further toward Hay-on-Wye, from Llanthony, you’ll find the tiny village of Capel-y-Finn, known for pony trekking, this hamlet is a great place to park the car whilst enjoying the night sky. There are dozens of footpaths criss-crossing the area so why not follow the stars and see where they’ll take you?
Once home to the legendary Opera Diva Adelina Patti, Craig-y-Nos Castle, near Swansea in South Wales, is quite a foreboding sort of place. Patti herself is said to haunt the building’s formal rooms. The parkland which surrounds it, however, is perfect for stargazers and, with easy access and parking, a visit there is a cinch.
This mountain, situated not far from the town of Llandovery in Mid-Wales is topped by an intact cairn (or prehistoric stone-covered grave). Possibly a place of ancient worship, it is now a great place to see the stars, completely free from any light pollution. The means Black Slope Mountain – in Welsh, Pen-rhiw-ddu – should certainly be added to any stargazing bucket list.
This is the flagship centre of the Brecon Beacons National Park, and where better to watch the stars? Located near the village of Libanus, 8 kilometres (5 miles) south-west of Brecon, the ‘Mountain Centre’, as its more commonly known, is the main tourist information point for the the area. Park your car, turn out those headlights and gaze to your hearts content.