What we do

Dark skies

The North Pennines is the perfect place for stargazing!

The North Pennines has some of the darkest skies in the country where you can see 1000s of stars on clear nights, so it’s the perfect place for stargazing. Here, you are away from busy towns and cities where there is lots of light spillage creating that familiar orange glow that blocks out the stars.

Rookhope Arch by Cain Scrimgeour

Dark Sky Discovery Sites

Some of the best places to see stars in the North Pennines have been designated as Dark Sky Discovery Sites.

There are more Dark Sky Discovery Sites in the North Pennines than anywhere else in the UK.

Nationally recognised

The initiative is part of an international programme to protect dark skies initiated by the International Dark Skies Association. Dark Sky Discovery Sites are nationally recognised places that are dark and easily accessible where it is easy to observe the Milky Way or the constellation of Orion with the naked eye.


The idea of the designation is to encourage public engagement with astronomy and physics through star gazing events and visits. We have worked with landowners and local authorities to nominate the top spots for stargazing, and the nominations are moderated by The Royal Observatory in Edinburgh.

The North Pennines AONB Partnership has successfully nominated 16 sites across the North Pennines:

  • Allendale Golf Course
  • Balderhead Reservoir
  • Bowlees Visitor Centre
  • Knarsdale Village Hall
  • Burnhope Reservoir
  • Allen Banks
  • Cow Green Reservoir
  • Millshields
  • Grassholme Reservoir
  • Hamsterley Forest
  • Hury Reservoir
  • Parkhead Station
  • Pow Hill Country Park
  • RSPB Geltsdale – Clesketts car park
  • Selset Reservoir
  • Tan Hill

Our Stargazing in the North Pennines leaflet includes a map showing where our Dark Sky Discovery Sites are. Also visit Dark Sky Discovery for more information on the sites. Alternatively this link – Dark Sky Discovery Sites Map – takes you directly to an interactive map.

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