We can’t wait until the first ever Cumbria Dark Skies Festival 21-23 February. We’re working with some amazing regional businesses, including Beckfoot Retreat B&B in Ennerdale to offer a wonderful array of celebratory events all around dark skies!

We sat down with Nina Ludgate, owner of Beckfoot Retreat B&B to discuss the festival...

So Nina, can you tell us a little more about your events and why you decided to organise them?

We are privileged to be located just 150m from Ennerdale Water in Ennerdale Valley. We decided to join in with the Dark Skies weekend by organising a night at Beckfoot Retreat.

We have a wonderful old Bank Barn where everybody will congregate so it promises to be a great atmosphere. Guests will be served High Tea - Hot soup, sandwiches, home-made scones and cake by candlelight.

As part of the event, we’ll have a talk by Chris Darwin, Physicist and have several Planispheres showing the section of Dark Skies in view on 22 February. Guests will be asked to download the Skyview app beforehand, so they are able to view the constellations. We’re also requesting that guests bring along some binoculars to take a closer look at the sky and a head torch to follow the 150m path to the lake shore.

What can guests expect to experience when taking part?

We think the event will be a lot of fun for our guests! We will have chairs and fire pits in the garden throughout, so our guests can wrap up warm, sit back and view the amazing Cumbrian dark sky.

The Dark Skies and Landscape Photography Weekend Event promises to be extra special - is this aimed at keen photographers or a more general audience including beginners?

As part of the festival, we are also hosting a photography weekend course - landscapes by day and Dark Skies long exposure shots by evening. 

It is suitable for both beginners and keen photographers alike. Participants have the option to stay the weekend with full board at Beckfoot Retreat B&B from Friday afternoon to Sunday afternoon.

Those attending will receive a mixture of 1 to 1 and group tuition as part of the course – the feedback so far has been incredible; people are really excited to take part!

Tell us a little about what makes the Ennerdale Valley so special to you…

The valley is a Dark Skies accredited location and we marvel at the dark skies full of stars and constellations on many nights of the year – it's an amazing place to live.

It really does take your breath away standing in the middle of Beckfoot Retreat’s grounds and looking up at the clarity of the universe beyond. 

What are you most looking forward to as part of the Cumbria Dark Skies Festival?

Tell us a little about what makes the Ennerdale Valley so special to you…

We are excited to be part of this county-wide festival and look forward to seeing pictures of the other festival events.

This event is fully booked now but Nina may be holding more in the future as the level of interest has been so great. You can contact her via https://www.beckfootretreatennerdale.com

To find out details on how to book other Dark Sky Cumbria Festival events visit: https://www.friendsofthelakedistrict.org.uk/news/cumbria-dark-skies-festival