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Over the Farm Gate

Enjoy the stars on a winter Farm Stay holiday

If you have never seen a truly dark sky, then now’s the time to book your break in the countryside and be prepared to be blown away by a vast canvas of sparkling stars.

The best time for stargazing is during the autumn and winter months, once the clocks have gone back. The UK has six National Parks which have been awarded International Sky Reserve status – the South Downs, Exmoor, Snowdonia, Brecon Beacons, North York Moors and Yorkshire Dales. Northumberland is exceptional, having been recognised for having England’s most pristine dark skies with International Dark Sky Park status. A world-class observatory in Kielder Water & Forest Park has extensive programme of stargazing events so is well worth a visit.

Did you know it’s not just we human stargazers who benefit from the reduced light pollution – it’s been found to enhance the habitat of many woodland species including deer, birds (in particular owls), as well as bats, moths and insects.

So, when choosing your next Farm Stay winter break, between now and March, we suggest thinking as much about what you can see in the evenings as what you’ll do during the day! Be sure to pack your binoculars, deckchairs, flasks and a warm throw or two and you’ll be ready to enjoy a most memorable dark sky experience.

Here are some suggested Farm Stay dark sky destinations...

Guests staying at Tosson Tower Farm in Northumberland have enjoyed spectacular views of the Milky Way, the constellations and even the Andromeda Galaxy!

Nestled in the heart of Northumberland, this is the perfect place for stepping back from the hustle and bustle of everyday life to enjoy a break in a beautiful rural setting with views over the Coquet Valley and distant Cheviot Hills. By day you can see if you can spot the red squirrels in the woods behind the farmhouse. By night of course, you’ll be heading out to admire the stars.

There are six luxurious rooms in a 300-year-old listed farmhouse, all finished to the very highest standard for an award-winning bed and breakfast stay. With comfy beds, fluffy robes and towels, baths, showers and a well-stocked refreshment tray and fridge, you are sure to have a good night’s sleep ready for the adventures ahead.  
If you prefer self-catering accommodation, Tosson Tower Farm has three comfortable cottages in converted barns with private gardens. Each one sleeps up to six people and is beautifully appointed.

You’ll be perfectly located for some excellent stargazing at Westermill Farm Cottages deep in the rugged heart of Exmoor…

Westermill makes an ideal base for exploring the open moorland, wooded valleys and spectacular coastal scenery or simply relaxing. Visitors can enjoy the peace and serenity of the farm as the cottages are located away from any roads. Walks can be enjoyed directly from their door onto the farm walks and beyond.

The six cottages here provide comfortable accommodation for families of up to eight people. They are centrally heated and have cosy wood burners so you know you’ll have somewhere cosy to head back to after rambles and evenings outside looking skyward.

A cosy converted barn near Betws y Coed at the heart of the Snowdonia National Park...

Located on the slopes of a secluded valley, this Farm Stay property, ­known as Moel yr Iwrch, is part of a small family farm. It’s fitted out to a very high standard and combines modern luxuries like under floor heating, power showers and a flat screen TV, with traditional features like the original oak beams and slate flagstone floors. It sleeps four and is ideal for families looking for a winter escape, enjoying a wide range of outdoor activities on offer locally, and of course, the chance to admire the stars.

Wild (but cosy) glamping on a working dairy farm in Nidderdale, in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales Dark Sky Reserve…

Castiles Farm near Ripon runs Little Seed Field Glamping with five luxury octagonal cabins, each with log burning stoves, two with en-suite facilities. It’s the perfect destination for immersing yourself in the sky at night. And once you’re exhausted from star spotting you can snuggle up under a feather duvet on a memory foam mattress.

Come the morning, there are facilities to make a light breakfast and each cabin has access to a barbecue and fire pit. The centrally heated amenity building has two wet rooms and a small kitchenette facility with microwave, kettle and toaster.

The owners have retained the natural wilderness of the landscape by locating the cabins among the boulders, trees and rushes on the edge of the farmland, ensuring that wild deer, birds of prey and natural flora are undisturbed.

Little Seed Field Glamping currently has a special offer for stargazers…

The special offer is for a minimum two-night stay, midweek, for two guests, arriving Sunday/Monday/ Wednesday and includes complimentary a ‘just heat through’ meal for the arrival evening (for two guests). Book online and quote ‘Dark Skies Bonus’ in customer comments field.