The Fforest Fawr UNESCO Global Geopark has some of the darkest night skies in the world. With International Dark Sky Week running until Sunday 7 April the Geopark is encouraging everyone to discover the Park after dark.
Fforest Fawr Geopark is located within the Bannau Brycheiniog National Park International Dark Sky Reserve, one of only thirteen worldwide. Dark Sky Reserve status is a prestigious award given to only a handful of destinations that have an outstanding quality of night sky. In this part of Wales the light pollution is so low that in the towns and villages you can look up and see stars. But for the real dark spots the wilder, western half of the National Park is the place to go. Here are a few ways to celebrate and enjoy the sky at night.
It is as easy as wrap up warm, head outdoors and look up. All you need is a blanket, binoculars and clear skies. Even your garden can be dark enough for stargazing, or head to one of our dark sky spots. A few of our favourites in the Geopark are the Usk Reservoir, the darkest spot in the whole National Park. Other top spots include Pen Rhiw Ddu, or any one of the car parks off the Black Mountain Road between Llandeilo and Brynamman, Craig-y-nos Country Park in the Upper Swansea Valley and Mynydd Illtud next to the National Park Visitor Centre, Libanus. On a clear night you can see as far as the Milky Way.
overnight in the Park
If you don’t live in the Park book to stay overnight at one of our hotels, B&Bs or campsites and experience the night skies for yourself. Over 50 businesses within the Park are Dark Sky Ambassadors, full of knowledge about the night skies above and how you can enjoy them.
Whilst you are here look out for stargazing events at the National Park Visitor Centre with Dark Sky Wales, who have an inflatable planetarium for cloudy nights.
Experience the Park’s nightlife
Dusk through till dawn is a busy time for nocturnal wildlife in the Park. At this time of year night skies will begin to be busy with emerging bats as they come out of hibernation. But if the weather turns cold again they will become torpid (inactive) and await warmer nights! At dusk Common Toads are starting their annual migrations back to their breeding ponds, they return to the same one each year. Keep a look out for hedgehogs as they wake from winter hibernation, relying on dark nights to hunt their prey. If you are up in the small hours listen out for the screeches of the night owls and barking of dog foxes across the Park.
Join the Fforest Fawr Geopark on Facebook and Instagram @fforestfawrgeopark and celebrate International Dark Sky Week throughout the week.