Enjoy starry skies and discover the dark in north Norfolk

A previous star gazing festival at Kelling Heath holiday park.

A previous star gazing festival at Kelling Heath holiday park. Picture: MARK BULLIMORE

If you enjoy starry skies and want to discover the dark, then head down to two places in north Norfolk.

Wiveton Downs and Kelling Heath holiday park, both near Holt, have been acknowledged by the UK Dark Sky Discovery partnership as being exceptionally dark sites, unaffected by light pollution and accessible for people to view the night sky.

And both have the highest accolade of being designated 'two star' sites - where the seven stars of the Orion constellation and the Milky Way are visible to the naked eye.

They join a network of around 150 such sites throughout the UK including Great Ellingham, near Attleborough, which was the first place in Norfolk to be listed.

Kate Dougan, project officer at the Norfolk Coast Partnership, whose Dark Sky working group put forward the applications to get the sites recognised, said: 'Thanks to a lack of light pollution the Norfolk coast has retained its rural character. The dark landscapes we get here add to the feelings of wilderness and tranquillity. When you are in a dark landscape you are able to connect more strongly with nature and with all your senses.'

Wiveton Downs is part of a Site of Special Scientific Interest running from Glandford to Blakeney, with public access, owned by Norfolk County Council and jointly managed with Wiveton Parish Council.

The Kelling Heath site is a popular destination for astronomers and Michael Timewell, Director of Blue Sky Leisure, which runs the holiday park, said: 'It affirms what our guests already know which is that the night sky seen from the holiday park is unspoilt and spectacular.'

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The Norfolk Coast Partnership's Dark Sky working group consists of organisations including planning authorities, tourism businesses, conservation organisations and the North Norfolk Astronomy Society, which surveyed the sites for suitability.

The astronomy society's secretary Colin Hards said north Norfolk was recognised by astronomers from across the east of England as being uniquely dark.

The Dark Sky Discovery partnership is led by the UK's Science and Technology Facilities Council, which includes the Royal Astronomical Society and the Institute of Physics among its members.