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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A dark skies and wildlife friendly heritage lighting scheme has won a design award from Kendal Civic Society.

Landscape conservation charity Friends of the Lake District’s Dark Skies Cumbria project worked with Cumbria County Council’s lighting team and local residents to install new dark skies- and wildlife friendly- lighting along the Cliff Terrace pathway in Fellside, Kendal in June 2021. The new heritage-style lights are an attractive design and are mounted on restored cast iron lamp posts, significantly enhancing the local street scene and helping to reclaim the original character of the terrace.

In recognition of the quality of the design and overall project the Cliff Terrace lighting has been awarded a Civic Trust Design Award by the Kendal Civic Society at their meeting Monday 27 March. The Civic Society’s Design Award is a coveted accolade presented annually to those buildings or developments that ‘make a significant contribution’ to the quality of Kendal’s built environment.

Image: Susan Bagott, President of the Kendal Civic Society, presents lighting design award to Cliff Terrace residents Kim and Peter.

Ian Gibbard, of Kendal Civic Society, who helped judge the Awards, said:

“In presenting the Highly Commended Award 2023, Kendal Civic Society recognises the work done to improve the footway lighting on Cliff Terrace, reduce light pollution, improve biodiversity and acknowledges the positive contribution to heritage in an important Kendal Conservation Area.”

The removal of the terrace’s original Victorian cast iron lamp posts in the 1960-70s resulted in a mis-match of less sympathetic light fittings. The street lights shone up the terraced house frontage into residents’ windows, and also cast light pollution up into the night sky, which could be seen from the nearby Kendal Castle.

The new heritage LED lights direct the light beam downwards along the path surface giving much better and safer visibility. They have also reduced electricity use by around 50%, and with a warmer colour, better protect wildlife and reduce glare on the human eye.

Jack Ellerby, Dark Skies Cumbria Project Officer at Friends of the Lake District, said:

“Kendal is one of the Dark Skies Cumbria Project pilot communities(1), where we work together to change lighting to something more environmentally sound and help to reduce light pollution. The Cliff Terrace scheme was the first in the town, and it won a national Build Back Better Green Award last year(2) and I’m in discussions with other residents who also lost their original lanterns.

“Making this win-win scheme happen was a real partnership between Cumbria County Council, Cliff Terrace residents, the Friends of the Lake District, Kendal Town Council and Thorn Lighting UK, and we are all so pleased to receive this special Award.”

Cliff Terrace is also the summer home of a colony of nesting swifts which return to Kendal each May.  Ros Taylor of the Kendal Swifts Group congratulates the Dark Skies Project and all who live in Cliff Terrace on this Award, and hopes it will be possible for other areas of Kendal to adopt similarly environmental lighting.

For further details on the Cliff Terrace lighting project, please see: Kendal Installs First Dark Sky and Wildlife Friendly Heritage Lights | Friends of the Lake District

Photo left: Cliff Terrace lighting before.

Below left: Cliff Terrace light after replacement.

(1). The six pilot communities working with the Dark Skies Cumbria Project are: Kendal-Oxenholme and Sedbergh in South Lakeland, Patterdale Parish in Eden District and Buttermere, Lorton and Loweswater in Allerdale. The Lighting Audit and Action Plan (LAAP) Reports are being produced by Manchester-based Cundall Light4 Lighting Consultants with funding provided by Friends of the Lake District, Kendal Civic Society and Kendal Town Council.

(2). See: Lighting category winners 2022 (buildbackbetterawards.com)

Before and After pictures of the lighting taken along the Cliff Terrace footway. Credit: Antony Paddle.