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!

Switch Off, Save Electricity and See the Stars

The Big Switch Off – 8pm Saturday 26 February, in Ambleside and Grasmere

Street lights on roads in Ambleside and Grasmere will go out this Saturday evening 8-12pm to mark The Big Switch Off – an evening to highlight the stars and raise awareness about saving electricity.

Marking the end of Cumbria Dark Skies Festival, The Big Switch Off begins from 8pm onwards, and we’re encouraging as many residents and businesses in Ambleside and Grasmere as we can to join in and turn off their lights overnight to see what a difference it makes to our view  of the stars.

Too many lights are left on overnight when not needed, wasting energy, adding to electricity bills and releasing more carbon into the atmosphere at a time when we must urgently bring down climate changing emissions. Artificial light at night is harmful to many species of wildlife, can cause sleep problems for humans, eroding immune systems and long-term health, and creates light pollution wrecking our view of the stars.

The many different groups taking part in the Big Switch Off include businesses across Ambleside and Grasmere, Cumbria County Council, South Lakeland District Council, St. Mary’s Church Ambleside, Ambleside C of E Primary School, the Lakes Chamber of Trade and the University of Cumbria, plus lots of residents who are supporters of Ambleside Action For A Future. In Grasmere the Victorian House Hotel, the Grand Hotel, and the Lancrigg Hotel and in Ambleside Zeffirellis, Compston House B&B, and shops Cherrydidi, Cunninghams, and the Rock Shop are all supporting the Big Switch Off.

Friends of the Lake District’s Dark Skies Cumbria Officer Jack Ellerby said: “We did a smaller test run of the Big Switch Off in April 2021, but we’re really hoping for significantly more lights going out this year. Fingers crossed the weather conditions bless us with clear skies so that residents and all the visitors can look to see a magnificent star laden sky in the heart of the Lake District.”

Gillian Kelly, of Ambleside Action For A Future, said:

“Here in the heart of the beautiful Lake District we should be leading action to reduce our carbon footprint as individuals, visitors and as a community. We can reduce the wasteful use of energy and ask ourselves, do we really need so many lights on all through the night?

“We’re hoping The Big Switch Off will also encourage more home and business owners to install timers so their lights go off overnight when not needed, and, when the lights need to be on, be well shielded so the light beam shines downwards and not up into the night sky. Less light pollution and better dark skies will support all of our hospitality and visitor accommodation businesses.”

For more about Friends of the Lake District’s work, the Dark Skies Cumbria project, and Festival see: www.darkskiescumbria.org.uk

Download the Big Switch Off poster

Image: Ambleside from Todd Crag 9.30pm, 6 April 2021, Credit Rob Fraser