Dozens of ‘sky quality’ metre readings have boosted the Yorkshire Dales National Park’s status as an International Dark Sky Reserve.

Last year the National Park Authority trialled permanent light metres at locations in Aysgarth, Garsdale, Grassington, Long Preston, Malham, Oughtershaw and Sedbusk. They consistently produced sky quality metre readings of above 21, indicating that the National Park offered stargazing at its best, with the Milky Way clearly visible.

One-off readings were taken at a further 46 locations during 2023, including at Pendragon Castle in Mallerstang, Howgill Lane above Sedbergh, Cotter Force in Upper Wensleydale and Malham Tarn. They also produced readings of above 21.

The National Park Authority has included the data in its second annual report to the US-based certification body, Dark Sky International. The Yorkshire Dales became an International Dark Sky Reserve in December 2020, at the same time as the North York Moors National Park.

Darlington and Stockton Times: Northern Lights above Upper Wensleydale, taken on Sunday, March 3

Since then the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority has increased engagement with tourism businesses to promote the dark sky, particularly during the dark skies season running from October to March. The annual Dark Skies Festival took place this year from February 9 to 24 and had more than 50 sell out events.

Derek Twine, of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority, said: “My thanks go to the volunteers who collected the sky quality metre readings. It’s great to see so many people working locally to protect the dark sky. In 2023 we saw several businesses, such as Stone House Hotel near Hawes, lead the way by installing dark sky friendly lighting at their sites.

“Since submitting our annual report to the international association, we’ve held the ninth Dark Skies Festival, in February. Businesses such as accommodation providers, pubs and outdoor activity providers have told us they benefited from increased tourism and revenue during the festival period.”