Did you know that Scotland has some of the best stargazing in the world? Tom, our CEO and founder, reveals his best places for stargazing and the scottish darkest destinations.
See the stars in Scotland’s darkest places to appreciate the magnificent and awesome vastness of the universe and to spot distant stars and galaxies just like our ancestors, without the orange glow of city and neon lights… Here’s our pick of some of the top stargazing sites Scotland has to offer.
1. Galloway Forest Park, Dumfries and Galloway
The flagship area for Scottish dark skies, which has plenty of clearings and well-signposted Dark Sky Discovery Sites – is the most easily accessible from the rest of the United Kingdom.
The clear night skies of the Galloway Forest Park attract many visitors to Dumfries and Galloway in South West Scotland. It is one of the four official starry sky parks in the West and the only one in the UK. It’s amazing what you can discover in the dark. Galloway Forest Park is a wonderful place to see up to 7,000 stars spread across the entire sky, as well as shooting stars, planets, comets, the Milky Way and even the Northern Lights to the naked eye, thanks to the absence of light pollution.
2. Isle of Lewis, Outer Hebrides
Since Dark Sky Discovery sites are largely awarded for their ease of access rather than simply having the very darkest skies, the remote Isle of Lewis does not have any cue the Cetus Project to build an observatory at Gallan Head. A small peninsula in Aird Uig at the most northwesterly tip of the UK, Gallan Head is listed by the Royal Astronomical Society as an official dark skies area. However, a clear Milky Way isn’t the only reason for the Cetus Project.
3. Glen Nevis Visitor Centre, Fort William
A few miles outside Fort William in the Lochaber district of the Highlands, the Glen Nevis Visitor Centre was in 2009 the first place to be nominated a Dark Sky Discovery Site.
The whole glen is rated as Milky Way Class. Since it’s right below Ben Nevis, it’s handy for hikers staying in the area (the summit of Dun Deardail is also an option for some elevation).
However, for those after more comfort and easy access to the night sky, about 50km south down the east coast of Loch Linnhe is Port Appin and the Airds Hotel. Set in a wonderful, light pollution-free location for stargazing, the rate includes a five-course dinner and a full Scottish breakfast – if you can get up in time after a night’s stargazing.
4. Melrose, Scottish Borders
Although it is true that the farther north you drive from Edinburgh and Glasgow the darker the skies get, there are still dark skies to be savoured in the south.
In fact, the Scottish Borders offers some fabulously dark skies, including at Melrose.
Stargazers are spoilt for choice in this part of the world. In Melrose there is accommodation in the form of a glamorous caravan called Devanna, overlooking a lake and perfect for staying close to dark skies.
5. Isle of Skye, Inner Hebrides
With no less than nine Milky Way Class Dark Sky Discovery Sites as part of the Dark Skye project, this island is at the forefront of Scotland’s stargazing movement.
Three of the Dark Sky Discovery Sites are found in the northwest around Waternish, another is near Broadford, and another two are at Kylerhea and Kinloch Forest. The remaining three can be found on Clan Donald land at Armadale in the southwest.
Blessed with zero light pollution, this area is known for sightings of the aurora borealis in winter in Glendale in the north, and noctilucent clouds in summer.