Star spot at Yorkshire’s Dark Skies Festival

Fancy some star-spotting this February half-term? Thanks to low light pollution you could be seeing up to 2,000 stars in one of Yorkshire’s National Parks!

The week-long Dark Skies Festival, taking place from 15th to 21st February 2016, invites visitors to eye the skies and discover the wonder of stargazing in the Yorkshire Dales and North York Moors National Parks.

Star trails, Dalby Forest, North York Moors National Park (c) Classlane Media
Star trails, Dalby Forest, North York Moors National Park (c) Classlane Media

The low light pollution in both Parks makes them an ideal location for spotting constellations, shooting stars and other cosmic happenings. Together with sky-at-night events, visitors will also be able to discover more of the nocturnal world within the National Parks with guided torchlight walks highlighting the wildlife activity at night.

The programme of activities includes a host of other events such as a dark sky trail run, evening caving, storytelling, glow-in-the-dark writing, poetry readings, solar system scavenger hunt, telescope-making and craft activities throughout the week.

The main events will be held in and around the National Park Centres in Reeth, Aysgarth Falls and Danby, and Sutton Bank and Hawes, both of which are also designated Dark Sky Discovery sites, with skies that have been found to be sufficiently dark that the Milky Way can be seen to the naked eye.

Dalby Forest, another Milky Way class Dark Sky Discovery site in the North York Moors, will also be involved as well as events held in conjunction with Hidden Horizons on the coast.

Both National Parks are working with groups such as the Reeth Informal Astronomy Group and Whitby & District Astronomical Society to stage the Festival. Businesses and attractions throughout the National Parks are also being encouraged to participate by organising their own dark skies event, making it a celestial celebration right across the Dales and North York Moors from the Pennines to the coast.

Dark sky at Ribblehead viaduct (photo by Matthew Savage)
Dark sky at Ribblehead viaduct (photo by Matthew Savage)

Richard Darn, astronomer and dark skies hunter, commented: “Yorkshire is fortunate to have some very special spots in both National Parks which are a stargazer’s paradise. In an urban area you will be lucky to see 20 stars on a clear night whereas in an area of low light pollution such as the National Parks you could see as many as 2,000.

“We will glimpse the great winter constellations of Orion and Gemini as they give way to the sparkling spring stars of Leo. We’ll also have a stunning view of Jupiter and a waxing moon. It’s a fabulous time to celebrate this amazing Universe and our wonderful dark parks.”

Check out the programme of events on or

Be a happy camper at Camp Katur, Yorkshire

There’s still time for a camping holiday this summer and this imaginative glampsite in North Yorkshire really will fill you with ‘katur’ (that’s Icelandic for happiness, by the way…)

glamping at Camp Katur, Yorkshire
glamping at Camp Katur, Yorkshire

Camp Katur glamping village is located within 250 acres of a country estate in Bedale, North Yorkshire. ‘Katur’ embraces the whole ethos of this glampsite and as you wind your way amongst the woodland into the heart of Camp Katur you will be struck by the beautiful setting and the little surprises around every corner.

Accomodation – from ‘hobbit pods’ to geodomes

The site is home to an array of glamping abodes including woodland hobbit pods; bell tents; tipis; en-suite safari tents; the UK’s only clear 360 degree panoramic unidome and (new for 2015) Geodomes.

Facilities and activities

You can make the most of al fresco dining as an outdoor barbecue is available with each accommodation. Or use the communal kitchen, the licensed Orangery Cafe (open weekends and during school holidyas only), or for something a little bit different there is the ‘Podfather’; a Nordic BBQ cabin where a family or group of friends can enjoy an indoor BBQ in the woods, whatever the weather.

meadows at Camp Katur, Yorkshire
meadows at Camp Katur, Yorkshire

Hammocks are scattered throughout the trees for lazy days, and little ones will have a blast in the toy den hidden in the woods. The centre of the glamping village is dedicated to a large communal campfire complete with musical instruments (get the guitar…!) and (another new addition for the 2015 season) the sixteen foot communal tipi for all the guests.

Camp Katur is set in the Camp Hill Manor Estate in North Yorkshire which boasts an array of activities, including an adventure playground with shelter building, woodland walks and activity trails, segway treks, quad biking, horse riding, cycle tracks, a 200m zip wire and a treetops high rope course. After a fun-filled day, guests can also enjoy the outdoor eco spa that includes a hand crafted wood fired hot tub and sauna made from Siberian spruce.

There really is something for everyone. You can pack your stay full of activities or just relax and enjoy the stunning surroundings, so we recommend that you ditch your smart phone, turn off you tablet and reconnect with the great outdoors! So if you are looking to discover your outdoor happiness, Camp Katur glamping village could be for you.

Camp Katur, Yorkshire
Camp Katur, Yorkshire

Recommended for… Families or groups of friends to enjoy all the communal spaces and activites with

Be aware that… We can never rely on the Yorkshire climate so a pair of wellies and an extra blanket are recommended!

Glamping accommodation is available from £20 per person per night based on two people sharing. There is a minimum requirement of a two night stay except Sundays when one night is available. Extra facilities such as the Eco-spa and BBQ ‘podfather’ hut need to be pre booked at an extra cost.

Dogs are welcome at Camp Katur with an additional charge of £15.00 each and there are stabling facilities for a break with your horse.

For booking and further information call 01845 202 100 or visit

Enjoy spectacular autumn colour at England’s Treasure Houses

Canopies of red and gold, the rustle of leaves underfoot, cool fresh air…a brisk walk in the English countryside is good for the soul during autumn and winter. Here are some grand locations for your next autumn outing…

Woburn Abbey Deer Park (c) His Grace the Duke of Bedford and The Trustees of the Bedford Estates
Woburn Abbey Deer Park (c) His Grace the Duke of Bedford and The Trustees of the Bedford Estates

Woburn Abbey, Bedfordshire

At Woburn Abbey you can stroll through the tranquil Abbey Gardens landscaped by the brilliant Humphry Repton. A walk can take you through approximately 30 acres of serene formal and natural garden environments: from manicured lawns and colourful flower beds, to peaceful woodland glades and ponds teeming with life.

Discover the bog garden, a recent addition with it carnivorous plants, the romance of the Doric Temple which was carefully restored last year and watch the recreation work in progress on the rockery and grotto.

Hatfield House, Hertfordshire

Hatfield House forms the centre-piece of the largest private estate in Hertfordshire, with the woodlands covering an extensive spread across the county.  The woodland ranges from the traditional coppice to areas of conifer broadleaved mixtures. This diverse habitat attracts a rich array of bird, mammal and insect life that you can spot during your stroll.

Holkham Hall, Norfolk

In this grand coastal estate, see the spectacular arboretum with its unusual and rare specimen trees resplendent in their autumn foliage. On 19 October, the estate is running Autumn Tours of the Private Gardens (book in advance, T: 01328 710227).

Chatsworth, Derbyshire

Having evolved over more than 450 years, the 105 acre Chatsworth garden continues to change today. There is plenty to discover at every turn, including the ninth installation of Beyond Limits, Sotheby’s annual exhibition of contemporary sculpture in the garden at Chatsworth (until 26 October). The Kitchen Garden is still producing good crops of plums, pears and apples to harvest.

Castle Howard, Yorkshire

One of the Yorkshire’s finest stately homes – take a stroll through Ray Wood to enjoy the season’s striking autumn colour from the many shrubs and trees, and huge array of ripened fruit and berries. Then make your way to the ornamental kitchen garden – Castle Howard Potager – for the autumn vegetable garden harvest.

All of these locations are part of the Treasure Houses of England group – 10 of the country’s most magnificent palaces, houses and castles. Alongside the places mentioned above, the group also includes Beaulieu, Blenheim Palace, Burghley House, Harewood and Leeds Castle.

For more information, including opening hours and contact details for the locations listed, visit

Autumn Colours - Treasure Houses of England