Snowdonia national park dark skies

Snowdonia the heart of Wales

Snowdonia National Park was the first UK National Park named in Wales, covering over more than 2,100 square kilometers of land in north Wales. The terrain of Snowdonia largely consists of the upland rocky terrain that run the length of Wales. Its lower reaches move directly onto the foreshores and coastal areas in an almost boreal nature.

The rugged interior of the Park in years gone by had supported many mining communities which thrived from the industries that supported their craft.  With the change in global economies and shifting of emphasis of trade abroad, these communities and trades like the slate mining have retracted somewhat, leaving most of the industry that was once, behind. Consequently the ares are less industry intensive and therefore more light free. Thats not to say urban sprawl and its light haven’t reached north Wales, quite the contrary, however the secluded passes in Snowdonia still are off the beaten track and have yet to feel the warmth of the midnight glow from our now modern world.

Snowdonia borders two other Dark Sky Parks such as the Brecon Beacons National Park and the Elan Valley Estate to its south, and is among the darkest places remaining in the UK. The Snowdonia National Park staff and leadership worked hard to build their profile of their campaign for the idea of protecting Snowdonia’s night skies by forming a Dark Sky Reserve. They have made great strides in educating the public and the UK about the importance of dark skies in the Snowdonia national Park for both its ecosystem and the tourism for many moons to come.

Image by Kris Williams : @jixxerkris Instagram


Dark sky staus in Snowdonia national park

In December of 2015 Christmas the night sky above the Snowdonia National Park was granted special protection. Officially recognised as an International Dark Sky Reserve, Snowdonia is just one of ten specially selected sites across the globe granted ‘Dark Sky’ status. If you are keen about Night photography, Astronomy, tourism and a pollution free environment this is a must for you.

Snowdonia was appointed a Dark Sky Reserve by the Dark Sky Institute, based in Tucson Arizona. It joins a prestigious and rare list of places, including the nearby Brecon Beacons National Park, Westhavelland Germany, Pic du Midi and the not so near Aoraki Mackenzie Reserve in New Zealand.

A Dark Sky reserve is; the dark sky preserve is usually an area of land that restricts artificial light pollution and any area with superb quality night air – clear and unpolluted enough to allow a good view of the night sky. The primary purpose of this area of land is to promote astronomy.  

It’s imperative we know that the Dark sky status in not awarded based on landmass or natural beauty. The dark sky status is only awarded to locations that have the highest quality of Night air that makes them a perfect place for stargazing.

Image by Kris Williams : @jixxerkris Instagram

Anyone with an appreciation of our galaxy– young or old, amateur or techy – can enjoy our wonderful dark skies in snowdonia. Its within mostly only 30 minute to an hour drive from most places i if your in a rush, we’re encouraging you to grab your binoculars, telescope, warm flask with hot drinks your warm weather gear and have an evening or even if your brave a night under the stars.

There are many young climbers, mountaineers and photographers now all over Instagram and other social media sites documenting their adventures and creative flair online in the north Wales area, They are out in all conditions bring home some top quality content for their followers- it certainly gives you a boost to get motivated for adventure! Big thank you to all of the especially @googleygaz and @jixxerkris for the front cover image Some of my favourites local creators on Instagram are below, head over to them and show them some love!  : @jixxerkris @alynwallace @googleygaz @darkskywales @eilir30 @angiejonez.

Image by Kris Williams : @jixxerkris Instagram

The Snowdonia national park

Snowdonia National Park is the first park in Wales established 1951, it also happens to be the third of its kind in the United Kingdom, This park is also the natural fortress for the princess of Gwynedd and for Llewellyn, which happens to be the last true prince of Wales.

Snowdonia National Park is a large area of land with wild landscape and village steeped in history, this park happens to be one of the perfect destinations for holidays for outdoor enthusiasts, nature lovers and families alike with weekend breaks and picnic days out  being incredibly popular because of the breathtaking scenery.

Snowdonia is very well known for being a good point for hiking, its waterfalls, the lakes and world class mountain biking, zip lining, climbing or scrambling. With the Dark Sky reserve adding to the list of what you can do in Snowdonia National park this furthers to boost its potential as a world leading site for visitors to the area. We are sure the wildlife of Snowdonia National Park will be improved and the environmental quality and sustainability will definitely be protected as a result of this. Visitors have and will come into snowodonia and the local economy of Snowdonia North Wales will be improved. 


Image by Kris Williams : @jixxerkris Instagram


Make your way over to Snowdonia to experience the dark skies


Having Snowdonia being provided with such a prestigious title, the Snowdonia national park not only wishes to protect the environment and enhance the biodiversity and dark skies of the area, but wants go a step further than other designations in the world by raising awareness of the features that link the stars of our culture, from the Mabinogi to the old penillion. This we LOVE. 

The journey of gazing discovering and appreciating the stars has only just started,  with the opportunities to stargaze take amazing photography and admire the night sky from the mountains and foothills of Snowdonia are just beginning and wonderfully abundant.. Why not come experience our dark skies for yourself? 


5 Billion Star Hotel. Camping in the mountains under the starry night sky.

Our Top spots to Go and Gaze at the dark skies in Snowdonia for families and walkers.


We’ve compiled a list of our favourite local spots to enjoy Snowdonia’s dark status, we have chosen these spots so its not too far a walk which may make a whole lot easier to get the kids motivated and out and about for some adventure.

Cwm Idwal – Park at the carpark and maybe pull a few for out chairing start gazing, its really that simple. if your feeling like a hike (maybe not so suitable for little ones at night) head up to Cwm Idwal lake and sit on the glacial boilers and gaze for a while. –Beginner / intermediate level!

Pen Y Pass : Another easy location for hobbyist gazers would be one y pass car park at night, dive up past LLanberis and all the way tot the top of the pass (take note* in winter it could be icy so take care driving) – Beginner level!

Capel curig : A short drive north west from Pen Y pass at the top of the valley is Capel Curig. All though this is a small village light  is low and you can park on the edge of Llyn Mymbyr and just step out of the car and gaze – Beginner level ! 

Marchlyn Mawr reservoir : This one is an exciting drive in itself plus a little walk up top and would be best suited to more experienced walkers in winter. Although the walk is easy we all know that winter conditions are fickle and sometimes a little unfriendly! You can dive to a gate at the bottom of road leading unto a closed off service road to mallynmawr which you can then hike up. Best to walk on the verges we found as its gets icy. From here you will each the reservoir head. If your feeling adventurous you can tackle Elidir face or Elixir fair for a full panoramic views! Pack full winter kit of your heading out- you have been warned! – More advanced level! 

We hope this article has been helpful on Snowdonia Dark Sky Status, and if you have a friend who’s into photography, stargazing or night skies share it with them on Facebook  Twitter or send them a link to this blog about the Snowdonia National Park and the Dark sky status of the Park.


Pack list :

*Warm woolen layers I wear all year round Helly Hansen– you can’t beat them here.

*Warm coats synthetic down is great and way more ethical. I love belay jackets for this style of activity.

*Warm footwear, socks, gloves and hats 

*Binoculars that we use

*Celestron Telescope I use at home, maybe a bit big to be carting to the hills..

*Camera- that some of the good guys use

*Star book / App(s) – that I use, this is review site that is really good.

*Head torch I use- Cree 6000lm

*Warm drinks in a Thermos flask – *note if I could I would buy a vintage retro one as the    new types are not so robust and can loose their vacuum properties. Expanding foam seems to be good solution. Mind you thermos have a 5 year warranty..

*Maps if your hiking 1:25000  obviously a compass

*Garmin GPS I use- this is only in the bag for real tricky conditions

*Rucksack I use in the summer and autumn time

Useful links :

Our choice, we only choose what we have used and what we think is a real great experience for our followers. We have lived and breathed these areas for 30 plus years and these spots are our tried and tested favourites- that doesn’t mean they are bijou luxury choices, more the everyday on the move choices to suit a family or visitors on the move.

To Stay –  best resources are online look at Menai holiday cottages or North Wales holiday cottages or Air B&B

To Eat The heights in Llanberis. Lovely warm wintery setting with generous and lovely food.

To go visit  –  Pen y gwyrydd hotel this place is amazing, its where Hillary stayed whilst training for Everest.



Weather linksMWIS, XCweather, Metoffice.

Mountain rescue Llanberis, Ogwen

Winter kit list –   See our previous blog on winter mountaineering kit list

Books guidesStargazing, Snowdonia guide


Further reading :

Go see Kris Williams beautiful landscape photography of north Wales- truly wonderful

Rough guides article on Kiris Williams photography

At the time of writing we could not find any events (which there normally are) for darkskies in north Wales, when we find theme-ill update the blog. Hope the article was helpful, If you likes it give it a thumbs up and share with a friend! 


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