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Best Stargazing Spots in the South East

14th October 2020

With November to March officially marked as the best season to stargaze in the UK, at least there’s one advantage to the clocks going back at this time of year. With a rise in popular shows such as Stargazing Live and incredible astronomy apps such as SkyView and Star Walk to map out the night sky from your pocket, this fun and free activity is one that the whole family can enjoy. So what are you waiting for, it is time to grab your telescope and head to these top five celestial spots across the south east.

Headley Heath, Surrey

Stargazing Sussex

The well-maintained and relatively flat terrain of Headley Heath is ideal for stargazing, and is popular with many local astronomy groups. A mix of woodland, chalk downland and heathland, Headley Heath has a varied selection of tracks, so you can pick the perfect spot to set up your stargazing gear.

It’s also a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) known for the diverse and often rare wildlife that can be found there, so while you’re looking to the heavens keep your ears primed for the rustle of a wood mouse or the call of a bat. In the winter months, cattle graze on much of the area, but maps can be found online and in the site car park with details of where they will be.

Getting thereHeadley Common Road, Headley Heath, Surrey. Car park post code is KT18 6NN (opposite the Headley Cricket Club Ground)

Access: Open to the public 24/7 all year round

Plan Your TripHeadley Heath Website

Black Down, West Sussex

Black Down, West Sussex

As the highest point in the South Downs National Park, Black Down is perfect for star spotting. This section of wild countryside is just one of a number of stargazing spots situated in the South Downs, which was awarded Dark Sky status in 2016, marking it as undisturbed from light pollution and especially perfect for watching the skies. Black Down’s landscape of rugged wildflowers and ancient woodland together with the magnificent views have inspired many over the years, notably the poet Tennyson who build his house there in 1869 and is said to have enjoyed long rambles across the open heathland.

Getting thereTennyson's Lane, Haslemere, Surrey. Car park post code is GU27 3BJ.

AccessOpen to the public 24/7 all year round.

Plan Your TripBlack Down National Trust Website

Devil's Dyke, West Sussex

Stargazing Sussex

As the longest, deepest and widest dry valley in the UK, Devil’s Dyke enjoys an unencumbered view of the night sky and a sweeping panorama described by the Romantic painter Constable as 'the grandest view in the world'.

Despite being just five miles north of Brighton, Devil’s Dyke offers the same star-gazing possibilities of a semi-rural property, with spectacular views of the Milky Way on a clear night as well as a truly sensational sunset for those wishing to make the most of their visit.

Getting thereCar park and start of the Dyke is at BN1 8YJ - Devils Dyke Road, Poynings, Brighton. 

AccessOpen to the public 24/7 all year round.

Plan Your TripDevils Dyke National Trust Website

Grove Park Nature Reserve, London

Stargazing Sussex

Believe it or not, there are several spots in London which escape the worst of the light pollution to offer clear views, one of which is Grove Park Nature Reserve in Lewisham, South East London. The three acre reserve (once frequented by John Griffiths, Science Museum curator and astronomy professor at the Royal Greenwich Observatory) enjoys a relatively secluded location.

Flanked by a community centre, large garden and Hither Green cemetery, this reserve is also just a stone’s throw away from central London. Winner of the Green Flag Award which recognises high quality green spaces managed by community groups in England and Wales, Grove Park reserve provides a peaceful and quiet spot to set your sights skyward.

Getting thereThe reserve is accessed via ‘Railway Children’s Walk’ off Baring Road, Grove Park, Lewisham.

AccessOpen to the public 24/7 all year round.

Plan Your Trip: Grove Park Nature Reserve Website

Iping and Stedham Common, West Sussex

Stargazing Sussex

Iping and Stedham Common is a dedicated 125 hectare nature reserve mostly owned and managed by the Sussex Wildlife trust. It’s one of the last remaining lowland heath areas in the UK, characterised by swathes of heather and moor grass interspersed with patches of sandy soil.

Its position deep in the heart of the South Downs allows for impressive views of the night sky and it often plays host to stargazing events in early spring. Cattle graze on some of the land - further information can be found in the car park.

Getting therePostcode GU29 0PB takes you to the car park, from which there are a selection of footpaths and bridleways. A Sussex Wildlife Trust map can be viewed here.

AccessOpen to the public 24/7 all year round

Plan Your TripIping and Stedham Common Website

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Image credits: Black Down by Mark Nesbitt; Headley Heath by Andy Perry; Devil's Dyke by Chas B; Grove Park; Iping and Stedham Common by Charlesdrakew

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