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!

A Dark Skies Blog by Alastair Wolfenden – Director of Path to Adventure

Living on a rural country estate within the Lake District National Park, I’ve always loved taking the dogs out in the dark. Due to the location and topography of where I live, there is very little manmade light. I have very few neighbours, no street lights and the nearest road is over a mile away!

On a clear night I’m lucky enough to share the thousands of stars above me with our great wildlife including our local badgers, foxes, barn and tawny owls to name a few. I suppose I just took it for granted – that’s until I recently attended a webinar organised by Cumbria Tourism about astrotourism and Cumbria’s Dark Sky. Listening to the presenters passionately taking about their love of the night sky and why it is so important to preserve it, got me thinking about how I can do my bit?

My wife and I own and run Path to Adventure - an outdoor activity company that provides adventurous activity to families and groups who come up to the Lakes on their holidays. We started thinking about how we can share this great natural resource above our heads in an adventurous way. We decided to keep with that we know and looked to adapt some of our more popular day time activities to be run when the sun has set.

From this we have designed four Dark Sky-friendly activities that have a mixture of outdoor adventure, appreciation of the dark sky and the night time environment whilst having a bit to eat and drink. Here’s a description of what our activities include and what you can expect from each one:

Dark Sky Canoeing - a guided canoe around Coniston Water visiting the hidden coves and remote islands you can’t get to by foot. We will find a secluded bay where we will light a small fire and enjoy a well-earned brew and toasted marshmallows, whilst watching the sun sets over the magnificent mountain scenery. Once the stars have joined us, we will continue our canoe journey stopping along the way to look up and marvel at the stars.

Star Gazing, Chilli and Spoon Whittling – Congregating around an open fire in the woods on our beautiful private country estate, you'll be shown how to use a bushcraft knife, hook knife and an axe safely as well as some handy techniques and grips needed for wood whittling. After this, under the watchful eye and guidance of the instructor, you can have a go at carving your very own spoon.

Over the camp fire, a Chilli Con Carne will be cooking away, along with rice and garlic bread to enjoy for our evening meal. After the meal, we will exit the wood and sit out on the fell land and look up at the night sky. Here we can marvel at the stars, identify some constellations and see the beauty of the Milky Way.

Bushcraft Cookery and Star Gazing - This session involves you learning how to fillet a whole Rainbow Trout and cooking it indigenous style over an open fire you have lit by using only traditional methods, such as flint and steel with natural tinder or even try out the fire bow! You will also bake fresh bread and roast potatoes over the fire. Followed by stargazing on our very rural (and dark) private country estate.

Dark Sky Mountain Walk - Our guided Dark Sky fell walks are great fun, hassle free and you get to see the Lake District in a whole new light – star light. You will meet your friendly local guide a couple of hours before sunset, where they will lead you up the mountain when everyone else is heading home. We will aim to reach the summit in time for the breath-taking views at sunset before heading down in the dark.

We are very excited to be supporting the Dark Skies festival in November with a selection of dates offered. We will also be scheduling more dates this coming autumn and winter season, and very much look forward to enjoying and sharing some exciting star gazing activities in the beautiful Lake District National Park.

To find out more visit our website: https://www.pathtoadventure.co.uk/dark-sky-activities-lake-district.

I hope to see you there.

Alastair Wolfenden – Director of Path to Adventure.

  1. When it comes to lighting fires, we feel it's our responsibility to educate people on how to light fires safely, how to behave and always light fires responsibly. Outside of our private woodland, we use fire pits to keep from damaging the ground and always bring in wood and take out ash, so as not to impact on the environment.