Dark Skies Cumbria

Saving Our Night Skies

Cumbria's dark skies allow us to see the natural wonder of the stars, but are also critical for the health wildlife and our own natural well-being. Sadly light pollution in Cumbria is increasing each year, threatening to obscure our view of the stars and blinding and confusing animals so they can’t feed or find a mate. We need urgent action now to stop light pollution. Stargazers, photographers, wildlife lovers and local communities… please help.


Or you can give by text to 70085. Just message DARKSKIES along with your chosen donation amount (eg DARKSKIES 5 to donate £5). Standard message rates apply.

The Lake District and Cumbria offers some of the most spectacular and precious skyscapes in England and we want you to join us on an interstellar adventure. Download our Dark Sky Discovery Pack and get started today!

Rookhow is a historically significant, Eighteenth-Century Grade II* Listed Quaker Meeting House and Bunkbarn in the Rusland Valley, in the Lake District National Park.  As well as being a meeting place for Quakers over the last 300 years, its Bunkbarn (converted from the original stables) and woodland, provides simple and affordable accommodation for a diversity of groups.

Located in woodland in a tranquil landscape area - a corner of the national park that feels quite remote - and concerned for their natural environment, the Trustees of Rookhow contacted the Dark Skies Cumbria Project seeking help to choose sympathetic external lighting.  The Quaker Meeting House recently completed major renovation work with conservation builder Stephen Grindrod under the guidance of local architects Crosby-Granger.  The existing lighting wasn’t consistent with the conservation of these fine buildings, nor did it provide sufficient ground surface light coverage, into and between the buildings.

Local lighting company Light Library designed, supplied and installed the new lighting, working with Rookhow’s Development Manager Sue Nicholls and Jack Ellerby, Friends of the Lake District’s Dark Skies Cumbria Officer. In liaison with the Lake District National Park planners, the design of the light fittings had to respect the special listed status of the buildings to secure Listed Building Consent.

You can see from the ‘before and after’ images (above) of the front entrance to the Meeting House how the old wall mounted bulkhead lights threw much of their light up towards the sky.

The new vintage-style swan neck lantern is the right size and scale for the building's frontage.  The new metal handrails manufactured by Kendal Metal Works replaced poor quality wooden railing.  The LED tape lights sit in a groove underneath the rail both to minimise glare and also protect the visual elegance of the handrails. Both lights are connected to the same motion sensor, so only come on when triggered by people entering the car park, and are a warm colour temperature sensitive to wildlife (2,400 and 2,700 Kelvin, respectively).

The new entrance light (left) is a warm colour and directed downwards.

The side entrance pathway was unlit previously, but provides a fire escape route from the Meeting House space and access to toilets for visitors camping in the adjacent field.  Two small under eaves, wall mounted lights with a GU10 Nordlux Bulb, which provide a warm 2,200K colour, and are also dimmable and motion sensored down lights.   

The old white plastic globe-type wall lights attached to the front of the Bunkbarn cast little light on the access path surfaces and were very unsympathetic to the buildings character. Light Library supplied two attractive integral curve, dark grey wall mounted down lights at 3,000K to prevent glare and better light the paths (left).                                       

The Bunkbarn doorway and path with previous lighting (below left) and the new (right).

Rookhow’s Sue Nicholls responded to the new lighting:  “Just to say a huge thank you for working together on the handrails and lights for Rookhow. They look amazing!   The Lake District National Park planner visited last week and sent an email saying, " I was especially pleased to see how the lighting and railings had turned out. Please pass on my compliments to the lighting technician and blacksmith as they have done an excellent job."

Using new energy efficient LED lighting the total installed wattage is just 70.5W, coupled with the use of dimming and motion sensors, minimises Rookhow’s electricity running costs, a vital concern for the Meeting House, which is a registered charity.

Given the historic nature of the building, Friends of the Lake District contributed funding to support the new Dark Skies and wildlife friendly lighting, thanks to a legacy left to the Dark Skies Cumbria Project by the family of Tom Harker, a long time Friends member and volunteer.

For more details on these lights, and your wider lighting needs, contact Mike Monaghan at Light Library: Innovative lighting design | Light Library | Penrith, tel. 07733 055569.

For more information about Rookhow, please see their website: https://rookhow.org.uk