Meter readings prove skies are dark above Yorkshire Dales

Northern Lights above Upper Wensleydale taken on March 3.

Dozens of ‘sky quality’ meter readings have underlined the Yorkshire Dales National Park’s status as an International Dark Sky Reserve.

During 2023, the national park authority trialled permanent light metres at locations in Aysgarth, Garsdale, Grassington, Long Preston, Malham, Oughtershaw and Sedbusk.

They consistently produced sky quality metre readings of above 21, indicating that the National Park offered stargazing at its best, with the stars of the Milky Way clearly visible.

One-off readings were taken at a further 46 locations during 2023, including at Pendragon Castle in Mallerstang, Howgill Lane above Sedbergh, Cotter Force in Upper Wensleydale and Malham Tarn.

They also produced readings of above 21.

The Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority has included the data in its second annual report to the US-based certification body, Dark Sky International.

The Yorkshire Dales National Park became an International Dark Sky Reserve in December 2020, at the same time as the North York Moors National Park.

Since then the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority has increased engagement with local tourism businesses to promote the dark sky, particularly during the dark skies season running from October to March.

The annual Dark Skies Festival took place this year from 9-24 February.

It had more than 50 sell out events.

Member champion for promoting understanding at the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority, Derek Twine, said: “It’s fantastic that the National Park has International Dark Sky Reserve status. My thanks go to the volunteers who collected the sky quality metre readings.

“It’s great to see so many people working locally to protect the dark sky. In 2023 we saw several businesses, such as Stone House Hotel near Hawes, lead the way by installing dark sky friendly lighting at their sites.

“Since submitting our annual report to the international association, we’ve held the 9th Dark Skies Festival, in February. Businesses such as accommodation providers, pubs and outdoor activity providers have told us they benefited from increased tourism and revenue during the festival period.

“It’s exciting to look ahead too. We’ve struck up a partnership with Melbecks Parish Council to look at how we can help create a dark sky friendly village.

“And we will continue to support communities and organisations, not least through our planning service, to ensure external lighting is well designed – with light cast down to where it is needed, not angled up into the sky.”