Home | Inspirations | A guide to Snowdonia’s Dark Sky Reserve and star gazing in North Wales

A guide to Snowdonia’s Dark Sky Reserve and star gazing in North Wales

Published on 19 Apr 2021 by Amy Bowers

Are you a watcher of stars? Awarded Dark Sky Reserve Status in 2015, the Snowdonia National Park is one of the best places in the UK to gaze at night skies in all their mesmerising glory…star gazing in North Wales…..

There’s something reassuring about being reminded of the tiny space we occupy in the vastness of the universe. A proper starry sky can soothe your soul by reminding you of your insignificance. It is a thing of mystery and magic. It’s a piece of the sublime.

But it’s not always very easy to access. For those of us who live in towns and cities, light pollution can be a real barrier to enjoying what is surely one of our oldest human traditions. Streetlights, industrial estates and motorway lighting can make it almost impossible to get a good view of the night sky. 

Luckily, astronomy-enthusiasts don’t have to travel too far to witness the magic of the night sky in the UK, because we have some of the world’s best stargazing spots right on our doorstep, including here in North Wales.

The Snowdonia National Park was awarded International Dark Sky Reserve status in 2015. There are just ten of these magical reserves in the world, and star gazing in North Wales on a clear night in Snowdonia you can see the Milky Way, all the major constellations, nebulas (bright clouds of gas and dust) and shooting stars. 

Why not come experience our magical dark skies for yourself? This quick beginners’ guide includes some of the best locations for star gazing in North Wales, advice to help you see more in the dark, and our recommendations for some basic stargazing equipment to help you get started.

Our favourite locations for star gazing in North Wales

Penmon Point, Ynys Môn / Isle of Anglesey

Penmon Point, the pebble-strewn beach promontory on Anglesey, is known for sightings of puffins, seals and dolphins, but it also has perfect conditions for stargazing. To the north is Trwyn Du lighthouse and Puffin Island lies beyond. 

Grid reference: SH640 812

Car parking: £3 parking toll to park at the point, otherwise park in Penmon and walk

Capel Garmon, near Betws-y-Coed

Located deep within Snowdonia National Park, the Capel Garmon Burial Chamber is a neolithic tomb above the Conwy Valley. Access is easy and there are great views of Snowdonia and the sky. 

Grid reference: SH813555

Car parking: In Capel Garmon village

Llyn Crafnant near Betws y Coed

Llyn Crafnant is a 0.75 mile long lake that lies in a beautiful valley where the northern edge of Gwydir Forest meets the lower slopes of the Carneddau mountains. The head of the lake offers what could be regarded as one of the finest views, across the lake to the mountains above, in North Wales.

OS Grid Ref: SH 757618 / Lat  long: 53.13188932666212, -3.870744692880667
Car parking available

Porthor (Whistling Sands), near Aberdaron on the Llŷn Peninsula

This small, picturesque National Trust beach is backed by steep grassy cliffs. On the Llŷn Heritage Coast, it’s famously known as ‘Whistling Sands’, a nickname based on the sound the granules make underfoot when you walk over its gleaming sand. Big night skies with an Irish Sea backdrop.

Grid reference: SH 1651 3004 / lat long: 52.835859355958306, -4.724141794464903

Car parking nearby

Bwlch y Groes near Dolgellau

Bwlch y Groes lies on the minor road linking Dinas Mawddwy and Llanuwchllyn, and is one of the highest tarmacked passes in Wales. The daytime view from the pass encompasses the plain of the Dyfi valley, Cader Idris and Aran Fawddwy, and the Berwyn Mountains to the north-east. 

Grid Reference: SH 913 232 / lat long: 52.795378 , -3.6135590

Car parking: Up to 10 vehicles

Llynnau Cregennen near Barmouth

Llynnau Cregennen are two of the most popular lakes in south Merionethshire. They lie on the foothills of Cader Idris, overlooked by the crags of Tyrrau Mawr to the south east, and Pared y Cefn Hir to the north. 

Grid Reference: SH 657 143 / lat long: 52.709651 , -3.9893561

Car parking available

Tŷ Cipar near Porthmadog

Tŷ Cipar is a former Gamekeeper’s house. It is located between Llan Ffestiniog and Ysbyty Ifan, within the Special Protected Area of Migneint and Arenig Dduallt. It is one of the largest areas of blanket bog in Wales, and birds such as the Hen Harrier, Peregrine and Merlin can be spotted here.

Grid Reference: SH 780 446 / lat long: 52.984808 , -3.8187414

Car parking: Up to 4 vehicles

Llyn y Dywarchen near Beddgelert

Llyn y Dywarchen is located above the village of Drws y Coed in Dyffryn Nantlle, near Rhyd Ddu. It is a very popular fishing lake, and has a car park nearby.

Grid Reference: SH 559 533 / lat long: 53.057468 , -4.1515927

Car parking: Up to 6 vehicles

Tips to help you see more

A Stellar Time of Year

Although the stars in the northern sky are visible all year round, it is easier to see certain features in different seasons of the year.

Some basic equipment to help you get started

Read more about it: our top cottage picks for stargazing

 
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