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Forest Skies at night (England)

Forestry Commission England woods and forests can be fantastic places for stargazing – allowing you to see the night sky like never before.

The dark skies above our woods and forests are not only great for stargazers; many woodland species such as birds, bats, moths and insects also benefit greatly from reduced light pollution.

You can experience all of this by taking part in special events to help you search the skies or by staying overnight with Forest Holidays or Camping in the Forest.

Forests with star-quality

Kielder Forest

Kielder Forest and starsKielder Forest, the backbone of Kielder Water and Forest Park, joins with Northumberland National Park to form part of England's first and only Official Dark Sky Park - Northumberland Dark Sky Park.

The status protecting the 1,500 square kilometres of forest, national park and countryside was awarded by the International Dark Sky Association on 9 December 2013.

Kielder Forest is England’s top forest location for stargazing. The Kielder Observatory Astronomical Society run over 100 events per year at the award winning Kielder Observatory to help beginners and serious stargazers study the skies.

Dalby Forest

Image of the MilkywayYorkshire’s Dalby Forest was awarded the Milky Way Class of the Dark Sky Discovery award in January 2013. Scarborough and Ryedale Astronomical Society offer public observing events. Visit their website for details.

Alice Holt Forest

Two star gazersA top stargazing location in the south east, Alice Holt has plenty of opportunities to scour the dark skies. Please note this site is used for organised public observing events only. Events will be published on the Alice Holt website and Farnham Astronomical Society website

Sherwood Pines

Stars on the horizonThe historic wood at Sherwood Pines is a dark oasis, allowing star gazers to marvel at the beauty of the sky above. Look on the Sherwood Pines website for forthcoming stargazing events.

Stargazing tips

Plan your visit

  • Are you a beginner to stargazing? An event at one of our sites may be the best way to kick-start your new interest.
  • If you are not attending a specific stargazing event, set out before nightfall with a route and location in mind.
  • The quality of the night sky (and the weather) in your chosen location will have an impact on the stars you can see.
  • Many astronomy apps and websites exist – use them to help plan what you will look for. Try the BBC’s Stargazing Live pages for hints, tips and maps.

Check forest opening times

  • Some Forestry Commission car parks or sites are not open at night – check out your location before you leave home through the site’s relevant web page at

Remember to pack a torch

  • Pack warm clothing and torches – with plenty of batteries – and take binoculars if you have them. It is good practice to have a red filter on your torch to reduce light pollution.

What's of interest

Check forest opening times before you plan your stargazing trip. 

International Dark Sky Association   

BBC: The night sky in spring and summer

England's Woods and Forests are cared for by Forest Enterprise England, an agency of the Forestry Commission.