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!

I am a landscape pastel artist living in Egremont, with an incurable and painful disability. The beautiful dark skies in our county helped me to discover the benefit of creativity when coping with chronic pain and improving mental health. It has forged a career and many charitable ventures in 18 short months. 

Above: Maryport Old Groynes by Emma Hunt

I started learning art at a very young age but it was a short lived as my career took priority as radiochemical analyst and I moved to Didcot for 11 years. My health was always an issue but by the time I was 30 I was crippled with pain and unable to work. I went undiagnosed until I was 40 when a wonderful consultant quickly discovered the problem, Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome. This is a lifelong, life limiting incurable genetic condition that affects the collagen in the body. There are many issues with it, I have leaky heart valves, as the most serious complication but day to day activities are limited by the pain of hypermobility. 

Secret Falls, Wasdale by Emma Hunt

I came off all pain medication in March 2019 and although the pain was worse, I wasn’t so doped up and discovered a new coping mechanism thanks to a friend, who encouraged me to go back to my art. I just couldn’t believe the beauty of this county, especially the dark skies. I never noticed it from my bed, packed with opiates. The beauty around us, now suddenly there, like looking at it for the first time. 

Buttermere Milky Way from Rannerdale Knotts by Emma Hunt

I have depression, low confidence and crippling anxiety. I never thought anyone would look at my work but I was brave enough to share it with Sean Reay, owner of The Harbourmaster Coffee House and Bar, when he encouraged me to bring in and hang on the wall. It has gone from there really, now you can view some of my works in 10 locations including Thornthwaite Galleries, Percy House, Mae’s Tearooms Bassenthwaite, Evan Gallery Penrith, Lowes Court Gallery, to name a few. The vibrant and colourful pieces are very desirable and I am so surprised to be now running a successful business. I sell art to sustain my therapy and give lessons to help others.

Yewbarrow Milky Way, Wasdale by Emma Hunt

Little seeds

I felt I needed to share this discovery because when we partake in anything creative, we tap out of a lot of things, pain, worry, anxiety, addiction etc. There is just an absence of the things that pain us. In November 2019, I proudly became a volunteer for Women Out West and ran the arts and crafts group until the first lockdown in 2020. These were vulnerable women who had been victims of sexual and or/domestic violence. Confidence and dealing with the emotional scars is the biggest challenge. It was just so amazing to see how they all felt the same benefits of creativity. I miss visiting the centre but for now, we do weekly workshops to help promote well-being, mindfulness, confidence and self-esteem. 

When lockdown came, I needed to isolate but just like anyone, I wanted to give something back. I started live online classes and it just took off. Individuals from all over the world take part in the regular classes and I’m also doing private zoom workshops for our ladies at Women Out West. 

Duke of Portland Boathouse Starry Night by Emma Hunt

I have also done a few fundraisers for to raise money for PPE equipment for the NHS, Poppy Fund and Women Out West had a calendar for 2021. I just feel privileged to be in this position and that I should use it in positive ways to help others.  Why wouldn’t you share simple and relaxing pastel demonstrations to help others in the same ways?

Yewbarrow Milky Way, Wasdale by Emma Hunt

My favourite and most desirable pieces come from our dark skies. It is so important for our own wellbeing that we do not underestimate the power, exhilaration and awe that a person feels when stargazing. The benefits to our mental health to behold the wonderful astronomy above can’t be underestimated. It’s a landscape of its own, each evening, unveiling so much more than we can see from our towns. This beautiful spectacle really does need to be conserved, just like anything else. I am passionate about the work Jack Ellerby and his team undertake to educate us all. Dark skies are now a rare commodity. I hope we can all continue to be responsible in our own roles of limiting light pollution. We owe it to the generations that follow to keep our skies dark and beautiful. 

Buttermere Lone Tree, Moonscape by Emma Hunt

In June 2019, I had no realistic prospects. I was trapped in my bedroom in a cycle of addiction to pain killers. Now, I have the pain managed and I am sharing this to help others cope with lockdown blues. I feel like my life couldn’t be any more different. There is so much more to look forward to and I’m excited to be involved with this team of bright and passionate people at Dark Skies. 

Emma Hunt

Artist and Teacher


Fb: www.facebook.com/emmahuntart

Insta: @artistemmahunt