Posted on March 19, 2021
As the sun goes down at the end of the day, nature’s greatest show begins and the beauty of the night sky twinkles overhead. Within The Cotswolds, we’re lucky to have some of the darkest skies in England to view bright stars, faraway planets, soaring meteors and on really clear nights, the glow of the Milky Way.
With the Spring Equinox just days away and longer, warmer days in sight, why not plan an evening jaunt to some of our favourite stargazing spots to watch the day draw to a close and the sky is ignite with sparkling stars? So pack your cosy blankets and a flask of tea, it's time to make stargazing your favourite new hobby this season.
By day, Cleeve Hill has the most breath-taking views of Cheltenham and the surrounding area. At 330 metres above sea level, Cleeve Hill is the highest point in Gloucestershire and is also the highest peak of The Cotswolds' hills.
Countless foot paths criss-cross its 1000 acres, including The Cotswold Way National Trail, and its amazing views extend to the Malvern Hills and, on a clear day, to the Black Mountains of Wales. Being the highest peak in The Cotswolds, Cleeve Hill rises above the lights and come dusk, stargazers climb to the top to watch as nightfall descends upon the rolling hills. This has become a go-to spot for astrological events including comets and shooting stars and you can even book stargazing experiences with an astronomer if you want to take your stargazing game to the next level.
To find out more about booking a stargazing tour, click here.
Situated in the small village of Long Compton in The Warwickshire Cotswolds, lies one of England’s best stargazing spots and it has even been given Dark Sky Discovery Status.
Nestled at the bottom of a valley, Aunt Phoebe’s Recreation Ground is unassuming as a large flat recreation area, however it’s officially recognised as an excellent place to stargaze. It’s rural location with little light pollution provides the perfect dark skies, and with free overnight parking, this is a perfect place to go for a midnight adventure to view the Milky Way with the naked eye. The best time to see the night sky is during the new moon of the lunar cycle.
To plan your trip, check out Go Stargazing where they have more information on the best time to visit.
The Rollright Stones near Chipping Norton are a historic attraction in their own right. However this neolithic stone circle in The Cotswolds with zero artificial light also has Dark Sky Discovery Status, making it a favourite spot for astronomers and historians alike.
Stare up at the skies where stars that have been burning for thousands of years while surrounded by standing stones that date back to 2500 BC. To contrast this, space enthusiasts come here to not only gaze upon the Milky Way but also spot some of the most advanced creations of human technology including zooming satellites and the International Space Station which shines brightly in the skies.
To plan your visit to see the beautiful night sky at The Rollright Stones, check out Go Stargazing.
Painswick Beacon near Stroud is a beautiful spot that climbs from the little village in Painswick up the Cotswold Way National Trail to the beacon itself. This area is popular with walkers as it includes a wonderful 8 kilometre loop trail through forests and up to the beacon with its iron age fort and wonderful views across The Severn Valley, Forest of Dean and Wales.
This upland area with open skies make it perfect for unobstructed views of the gorgeous night sky. With some warm blankets in hand, lie down, look up at the sky and feel immersed in a completely different, peaceful galaxy and notice the patterns that emerge within the starry sky. The beacon itself is a little walk from the car park so it’s worth bringing torches, especially on really dark nights.
For more details on the the walk up to Painswick Beacon, click here.
John Fletcher is a retired postman and amateur astronomer based in The Cotswolds who built his own observatory in his back garden. One of his favourite places to go stargazing is around the historic town of Wotton-under-Edge, or “Edge” for short.
Edge is surrounded by hills and woodland and is an excellent base to find stargazing spots come nightfall. It’s easy to trek beyond the town’s immediate lights, and finding a route to the nearby Tyndale Monument is a great option. By day it has spectacular views of the surrounding countryside and River Severn but at night you can also set up a couple of blankets for an evening of peaceful stargazing.
For more details on the walk up to Tyndale Monument, click here.