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.


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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!

Community groups, residents, businesses and Cumbria Highways are taking part in the first lighting ‘Big Switch Off’ in Ambleside on Saturday 10 April, from 9.30pm onwards overnight.

The lighting switch off aims to raise awareness about the value of dark skies for people’s enjoyment and health, for wildlife to flourish, and the need to tackle climate change by reducing energy consumption.

The event is being coordinated by Ambleside Action For A Future (AAFAF) and the Dark Skies Cumbria Project and takes place during International Dark Skies Week (5-12 April).

If you’re a resident or business in Ambleside town please do join in and enjoy the stars on the night, take time to reflect, slow the pace and enjoy the natural environment.

Gillian Kelly, AAFAF Coordinator, said:

“We are privileged to live in a beautiful area and we know we must reduce our ‘carbon footprint’ as individuals and as a community. Electricity consumption is rising rapidly, switching to renewables is vital and low energy LEDs are now the norm. We must also look to reduce the wasteful use of energy and ask ourselves, do we really need so many lights on all through the night?

“Unlike some environmental problems, such as plastics in our lakes and oceans which will take decades to clear up, we can switch off lights in an instant. Working with Friends of the Lake District’s Dark Skies Project Officer Jack Ellerby, we are also asking people to use well shielded lights so the beam shines downwards and not up into the night sky. The Big Switch Off will hopefully also encourage home and business owners to install timers so their lights go off overnight when they are not needed, or open for business.”

Many different groups are supporting and taking part in the Big Switch Off including St. Mary’s Church, Ambleside C of E Primary School and the University of Cumbria who will be turning their outside campus lights off overnight.

Steve Crook, Chairman of Lakes Parish Chamber of Trade, is also backing the event, saying:

“Covid lockdowns have hit our businesses terribly, particularly our hospitality and non-essential retailer sectors. Enjoying the dark skies especially during the quieter winter months offers an important attraction and reason to come and stay in Ambleside. Equally, as businesses we need to continuously look at our overhead costs, and with energy prices going only one way, if we can reduce our electricity use so much the better.”

If resident and business feedback is positive, the idea is to make it an annual event in February during CPRE’s Star Count Week when days are short and the stars can be seen earlier in the evenings.

As well as raising awareness of the need to save electricity and reduce carbon emissions, the aim is also to enhance views of the night sky and help boost visitor spending in the town to support the economy.

Download the Ambleside Big Switch Off poster (pdf)

For more information about Friends of the Lake District’s Dark Skies Cumbria Project, visit the website at: www.darkskiescumbria.org.uk

AMBLESIDE ACTION FOR A FUTURE is a network of local residents working together to mitigate climate and environmental breakdown and build community resilience.

Image:  Light pollution to the south of Angle Tarn looking towards Kendal, Windermere, Ambleside and beyond by Rob Fraser.