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Dark Sky Discovery Sites in Norfolk

Like many AONBs and National Parks around the UK our coast boasts incredibly pristine dark skies and landscapes. On a clear night numerous constellations and planets are visible with the naked eye. The Milky Way is a common sight and even the Aurora Borealis can be seen on occasion!

There are many places where you can stop to appreciate the night sky, including the four accredited Dark Sky Discovery Sites detailed below. They join around 200 sites around the UK which are recognised as some of the best places to view the night skies. For the most enjoyable experience you might like to attend an organised event at one of these sites where you will get the chance to learn about the stars and view constellations through powerful telescopes.

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Why are these sites so important? 

Dark Sky Discovery Sites form a nationwide network of places that are accessible by everyone and provide fantastic views of the dark skies and landscapes. Nominated by local groups and organisations, they have been nationally recognised as places so dark, you can easily see the Milky Way or the constellation of Orion with the naked eye.

These sites will help raise awareness and appreciation of dark skies and in doing so, will encourage all of us to help reduce light pollution on the Norfolk Coast.

Norfolk Coast AONB – Dark Sky Discovery Sites

Kelling Heath Holiday Park

Darkness rating: Two-star (Milky Way class, with events) with an SQM* reading of: 21.23

Two equinox star parties, popular with astronomers from around the UK, are held here every year.  In addition the Park advocates the use of minimal lighting around the complex in order to preserve the dark skies all year round.

Location: Sports field within the complex of Kelling Heath Holiday ParkWeybourne, Holt, Norfolk, NR25 7HW. Visit the Kelling Heath website.

Grid reference: TG 10681 41270 (lat/long: 52.927481N, 1.132964E)

Directions: From entrance to the Park, drive to the main car park adjacent to the Village Square. From here follow the main road on foot, to the left for around 200m until you reach a track on the right. Walk approximately 55m down the track until you reach the sports field.

Safety notes: Away from the Village Square, the Park is very dark.  Watch for uneven ground between road & sports field although the field itself is mostly short grass. Play area equipment is present. You are advised to stay within the perimeter of the sports field as other hazards are present throughout the rest of the Park. It is advisable to go to the site in the daytime prior to your night time visit.

Astronomy Events: Contact Kelling Heath Holiday Park or North Norfolk Astronomy Society

Wiveton Downs

Darkness rating: Two-star (Milky Way class) with an SQM* reading of: 21.26

Location: A very dark, elevated, heathland site valued for its geology.  It offers very good site lines in all directions.

Grid reference:  TG 03136 42176 (lat/long: 52.938524N, 1.021451E)

Directions: NR257SN: Travel 1200m south-west from Wiveton village.  At the brown sign turn left over a cattle grid and into the reserve car park.

Safety notes: Uneven ground, rabbit holes on the grassed plateau.  Stay within the gorse perimeter of the car park and plateau, as beyond here there are steep slopes.  Between car park and plateau are wooden posts, two of which are connected by a low bar. Use a torch especially when moving between the two areas. It is advisable to go to the site in the daytime prior to your night-time visit.

Astronomy events: Contact North Norfolk Astronomy Society

Barrow Common, Brancaster

Darkness rating: Two-star (Milky Way class) with an SQM* reading of: 21.23

Location: A very dark, elevated, heathland site with very good site lines and a spectacular 180° view of the north horizon.

Grid reference:  TF 79040 43339 (lat/long: 52.957538N, 0.66398390E)

Directions: From the A149 at the Jolly Sailors pub in Brancaster Staithe, head south on Common Lane for 1km to Barrow Common.

Safety notes: Stay close to the allocated site, be aware of uneven ground, gorse, rabbit holes and steep slopes. Common Lane runs through Barrow Common – visitors therefore should be aware of moving vehicles. Park in one of several small lay-bys. Take care when walking to/from the site (<50m from parking area; 1km walk from Brancaster Staithe Village). It is advisable to go to the site in the daytime prior to your night time visit.

Astronomy events: Contact King’s Lynn and District Astronomy Society

RSPB Titchwell Marsh Nature Reserve

Location of Dark Sky Discovery Site at Titchwell RSPB Reserve

Darkness rating: Two-star (Milky Way class) with an SQM* reading of: 21.26

Location: A very dark site on a raised embankment, surrounded by wetland habitat, with impressive 360° views of the horizon.

Grid reference:  TF 74948 43954 (lat/long: 52.964408N 0.60344902E)

Directions: Follow signs from the A149 Coast Road to RSPB Titchwell. Note that there is limited parking in the staff car park after 5.00pm and ample spaces in main car park. From the car park follow path past visitor centre onto main reserve path.  Walk north for approximately 150m to the first bench.

Safety notes: Be aware of water bodies and steep slopes in close proximity to/from and either side of the DSDS. Keep to the paths at all times, use a torch (preferably with red light e.g. the back light for a bike) and take care when walking to/from/through the site. Be aware of moving vehicles in the car park.

Astronomy events: Contact RSPB Titchwell or King’s Lynn and District Astronomy Society

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Dark Skies Festival

During our annual Dark Skies Festival there are varied activities for you to get involved in. Follow the festival here and join in on social media.

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Make a dark skies pledge

Every single one of us can do something to reduce lighting on our coast. Download our Pledge sheet to see what you could do. Complete the attached 12-month pledge and return to us. Stick it on your fridge as a reminder and don’t forget to tell us how you get on.

Email [email protected] or on social media using #Norfolkdarkskiespledge

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