Located in the southwest of England in Somerset and Devon Counties, Exmoor National Park enjoys the darkest skies in the country yet offers relatively easy access from urban hubs. Many who have settled within the park’s boundary associate Exmoor’s dark nights with a high quality of life and an unpolluted night sky contributes significantly to this atmosphere. Dark sky awareness in the park bloomed in 2009 with a variety of programs on astronomy and conservation held during UNESCO’s International Year of Astronomy.
In Exmoor, the 81 square kilometers of core zone were chosen to minimize human habitation but to maximize open land access and points of interest. The mostly moorlike land core area includes Bronze Age burial mounds, a site of Special Scientific Interest at Dunkery Horner Wood National Nature Reserve, the deserted medieval settlement of Hoccombe Combe, and a recreational building used for astronomy events. In the buffer areas surrounding the core, the Exmoor National Park Authority works with park residents and management of Somerset and Devon Counties on dark-skies issues, with strong support from the national Campaign to Protect Rural England.
Dark Sky Reserve
North Devon, England