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!

Clear skies on Saturday 26 February gave residents and visitors inspiring views of a star-laden night sky, a fantastic finale to the two-week long Cumbria Dark Skies Festival.

Ambleside and Grasmere businesses, community groups and residents took part in the second Big Switch Off of lights organised by the Dark Skies Cumbria Project, Ambleside Action for a Future, Cumbria County Council, and South Lakeland District Council.

Nearly 200 street lights belonging the County, District and Parish Councils were switched off from 8pm through to midnight, providing a real sense of darkness and allowing people on the pavements to gaze up to enjoy the night sky.

Ambleside Action For A Future, which is leading community initiatives to transform Ambleside into a carbon-neutral town, played a key role in promoting the event. Gillian Kelly, AAFAF Coordinator, said:  “Last year our first switch off in April 2021 was less of an event due to Covid lock-down restrictions. So this time it was really great to have Grasmere join in as well and see so many people out and about having an opportunity to see the stars.

“We need to build from Saturday’s success, just take a moment to assess our own lighting and see if we can switch some lights off on a more regular basis, or fit motion sensors rather than leaving them all on through the night. We can make an instant difference, which if lots of us do it, can add up to worthwhile carbon and electricity savings. Think globally and take action locally.”

Many different groups and businesses switched off their lights, including St. Mary’s Church in Ambleside, Ambleside and Grasmere primary schools, the Climbers Shop, the Ambleside Toy Shop and The Lancrigg Hotel in Grasmere.

Jack Ellerby, Dark Skies Officer with Friends of the Lake District, who helped coordinate the Switch Off, said: “I must thank everyone who organised Saturday night’s event. Judging by people’s reactions and feedback they really enjoyed the opportunity to see the stars from the heart of both communities.

“Focusing on our area’s natural assets like the wonderful dark skies, the more businesses can gain from supporting a sustainable, climate friendly economy. I do hope this will become an annual festival-type event we can all get behind and support. I know other places in the country are thinking of running similar light switch offs.”

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 by switching off lights when not needed, help to protect nocturnal wildlife, and boost visitor spending over the winter months.

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

Below: St Mary's Parish Church, Ambleside, before the lighting switch off:

Below: St Mary's Parish Church, Ambleside, after the lighting switch off:

Below: Grasmere during the Big Switch Off 2022, photo by Simon Hey.

Below and header image: The Milky Way and Orion off Todd Crag above Ambleside taken by Photographer Jonny Gios on 26 Feb 22, Big Switch Off.

See more photos of the night on our Facebook page.

Friends of the Lake District is leading, with other partners and supporters, a project to improve dark skies in Cumbria. We’re passionate about celebrating and safeguarding Cumbria’s amazing dark skies. For more about Friends of the Lake District’s work, the Dark Skies project, see: 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.