Home Expertenteam Dark Skies in Galloway Forest Park

Dark Skies in Galloway Forest Park

von Judith Sleigh

Stars in your Eyes – Scotland has some of the darkest skies in Europe and the Galloway Forest Park in the South West is one of the darkest places in Scotland, which is why it was the UK’s first Dark Sky Park. So few people live within the Forest Park that the nights really are inky black, making it a brilliant place to enjoy the stars.

The Galloway Forest Park is in Dumfries and Galloway and is one of the largest areas in Scotland where visitors can walk and cycle and enjoy the forests. There are picturesque forest trails, three visitor centres where you can find out about the wildlife and what there is to see and do. You can enjoy great walking, cycling and  mountain-biking or just relax and look at the breath-taking views of Loch Ken and the Forest.

A Stellar Spectacular – over 7,000 stars and planets are visible with the naked eye from the Forest Park and the bright band of the Milky Way is clear to see where it arches from one side of the sky to the other. There’s a new show every night because, as the Earth travels round the sun, there is a constantly changing view of the stars. Whichever season you visit Galloway, the skies will be spectacular – not only the stars, but also the brilliant sunrises and sunsets.

Galloway Forest Park has 75,000 hectares of land, where light pollution is kept to a minimum, because there are so few towns. The Forest Park has a Sky Quality Meter (SQM) scale reading of about 2 (out of a maximum of 25) 2. This sounds technical, but it means that it is exceptionally good.  In the middle of a city it would be 6, so the Galloway Forest Park is as almost as dark as it can be – which means there are clear, starry skies and pitch blackness beyond.

Visiting the Dark Sky Park – there are three visitor centres from which you can get a good view of the sky, especially at Clatteringshaw, in the heart of the Forest Park. There are Dark Sky information points at the visitor centres and at other places so you can identify the constellations and planets and panoramic viewing points at either end of the Carrick Forest Drive. For a deeper look into the Dark Sky you can visit the Scottish Dark Sky Observatory, but please be aware that all visits must be pre-booked!

Where to Stay – if you are touring with a campervan or a tent or if you want to stay in an upmarket caravan holiday home, then Loch Ken Holiday Park is the place for you. On the banks of Loch Ken, in the heart of the Dark Sky Park, Loch Ken is ideal for exploring the Forest and observing the incredible night sky. This is a quiet park on a family-owned 600-acre farm.

Right next to it is an RSPB bird reserve and the Galloway Kite Trail and if you have your bike, there are challenging bike trails nearby. The park has hard-standing touring pitches with electric hook-ups on the shores of the loch for motorhomes and a large area for tents.  There are very good shower and toilet blocks and dish-washing and laundry facilities. There are also luxurious holiday homes with two or three bedrooms.

Judith Sleigh
-Tourism Expert

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Fotocredits: Mungo

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