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!

By Jack Ellerby, Dark Skies Officer at Friends of the Lake District 

The Quiet Site, established in 1963, is pitched high above Watermillock in the beautiful Lake District’s Ullswater valley. Recognised as an exemplar in sustainable tourism, it was a Queens Award Winner for Enterprise in Sustainable Development 2020 and winner of Cumbria Tourism’s Ethical, Responsible and Sustainable business category Gold Award in 2019. 

Its forward thinking owner Daniel Holder continually strives to develop economic and environmental resilience into the business. The site is gradually moving away from older style, static caravans with poor sustainability credentials with investment in new simple but superbly insulated, energy efficient holiday accommodations. Their latest energy positive ‘Gingerbread Houses’ currently under construction will, when completed, move the site to generating more than 80% of its own power. The site generates energy using a blend of Solar PV, Solar Thermal, Biomass and a Ground Source Heat Pumps 

Electricity prices are predicted to double over the next 10 years in a move to help tackle the climate crisis and make the distribution grid smarter. The example being set by ‘A Quiet Site’ in investing in self-sufficiency and renewable energy solutions is one that more businesses should be looking to adopt.   

The vision of owner Daniel Holder extends beyond self-sufficiency in energy. Reed-bed waste water and sewerage treatment, a zero plastic shop selling as many local products as possible, Glamping Cabins made a short distance away, free pick-ups and lifts to Penrith’s Rail Station are all aspects of the enterprise which are delivering on a wider ‘green’ agenda designed to minimise the site’s footprint and impact on what is can be considered as one of the most stunning locations in the world. 

Accompanied by Brian Healy, Faunalight Lighting Consultant, I paid a visit to meet Daniel on the evening 26 April, the first cloudy night in weeks!

Daniel’s environmental values and vision have achieved a fantastic balance between providing lighting to allow safe movement around the site, whilst preventing wider sky glow or intrusive glare light pollution.

Attention to detail with people and vehicle movement in relation to hazards allows for minimal lighting to be installed, mostly to highlight steps and to subtly help new arrivals to orientate their way around the site and back to their accommodation.
(Pictured: downward wall mounted light on new biomass boiler building)

Business owner Daniel Holder, told us: 

“We ask our visitors to complete a survey during their stay and we include a question on lighting to ascertain whether we’ve struck the correct balance. Of over 6,100 responses 82% say the lighting is just right, 8% said they didn’t notice the lights, 8% felt there is to little lighting and 2% felt the site was over lit, so we think we we’ve got it about right. 

“The electricity itself powering the energy efficient LED lights, generates extremely low carbon emissions. We only light space we feel is necessary and I look down onto the site from higher up the fell to ensure we’re not spilling any light outwards into the surrounding landscape or skywards. We know many visitors are wowed on clear nights looking up at the 1,000s of stars you can enjoy in our valley, a free experience and a take away lasting memory, which influences return visits to our site.” 

Brian and I were delighted with the simply designed, home-made timber bollard, down lighters Daniel and team had designed.

(Pictured: downward wall mounted light on new biomass boiler building)

Checking the colour temperature (or Kelvins) showed the bollard lights were not only Dark Skies compliant in terms of light intensity and direction, but at 2,700 Kelvins they are also wildlife friendly, vital for light sensitive feeding or roosting Bats, migrating or roosting Birds, breeding Amphibians (Frogs, Newts or Toads), insect pollinators and other wildlife active at night. 

Daniel’s leadership in delivering practical sustainable solutions in such a high quality environment deserves huge credit. The Lake District, the Ullswater valley and wider Eden area of Cumbria, contains some of the most valuable dark skies left in England and UK. 

The Dark Skies Cumbria Project congratulates the ‘Quiet Site’ business for acting an exemplary steward, protecting our night skies for current and future generations of people to continue to enjoy, experience and, in turn, take inspiration from. Thank you for caring, a true Dark Skies champion in action.

Banner image kindly provided by Alan Graham