Exmoor – An International Dark Sky Reserve

Exmoor was created  Europe’s first International Dark Sky Reserve in 2011 – it’s officially one of the best places in Europe to stargaze because of its low light polution.

Levels of light (and atmospheric / moisture) pollution determine how many stars are seen from earth – the greater the light pollution, the fewer stars that can be seen from earth.

In a really Dark Sky area like Exmoor, millions (literally) more stars can be seen in the night sky that in a place that suffers from a lot of light pollution created by homes, businesses, street lights  and traffic.

Exmoor National Park has produced a pocket guide to star gazing on Exmoor which can be downloaded on the link below


Stargazing at West Withy Farm

West Withy Farm offers Exmoor’s Dark Skies – our nearest land neighbours are over half a mile away.  Two official Exmoor viewing sites – Wimbleball Lake / Haddon Hill – are less that 1 mile away.

At West Withy Farm, you can sit in your own cottage garden and view the night sky.  Weather better here than in core zone – 30% more clear nights per annum.

Our location on the south side of a gently sloping bowl of land gives uninterupted all round visibility of Exmoor’s night sky – horizon to horizon

Concrete pads have been laid at various places in our grounds for standing telescopes and tripods.  All you need to view Exmoor’s Dark Skies when staying at West Withy Farm is ‘bring your scope with you’.

Summarising, West Withy Farm has:

  • very low ambient light levels.
  • no artificial light visibility
  • 30% more clear night skies per annum than core Dark Sky Zone.

Dark Sky Telescope Hire and West Withy Farm

In addition, West Withy Farm is the Exmoor hire base for Dark Sky Telescope Hire (DSTH) and some of DSTH’s hire scopes are permanently based here.

Telescope Hire

Scopes for hire are 6” or 8” Dobsonian reflector telescopes are available for hire during any period of your stay from 1 night upwards.

Scope hire comes with:

  • full verbal instructions (and a manual) on how to use the telescope.
  • a full stargazing manual including:
    • a star charts for Exmoor for the particular period of your stay here
    • detailed notes on the most interesting features of the night sky during the period of your stay covering planets, star clusters, nebula and even other galaxies like Andromeda.
    • other exciting stellar interests like the ‘time to see the International Space Station pass overhead Exmoor’.

Dark Sky Telescope Hire has similar telescopes available for hire at the Exmoor National Park Visitor Centres

Sky Tours

The owner of Dark Sky Telescope Hire (Seb Jay) also offers ‘Sky Tours’.  Seb will come to your cottage garden and take you on a personal tour of the Exmoor night sky.

Seb has been a stargazer since a boy and has now made his passion into his job.  Exmoor National Park commissioned him to write a book on the Exmoor stargazing – Exmoor Dark Skies – which is available to read in your cottage here at West Withy Farm.

On a sky tour, you will have Seb’s knowledge and enthusiasm to guide you around Exmoor’s night sky.

Astro Astronomy
Here is a sample of what Paul Hardwick achieved during his stay at West Withy Farm.

M13 Hercules Globular Cluster


Blagdon Cross Exmoor 6 inch, reflecting Telescope - available for hire at West Withy Farm