With numerous TV and radio appearances to his credit, Richard remains a stargazer at heart who loves to share his passion for the heavens.
Marvel at Northumberland’s starry skies with astronomer Richard Darn
Northumberland's countryside is a beautiful tapestry of heather-clad moors, rolling hills, and ancient meadows. There are intriguing castles to explore and the crumbling remains of fortifications reveal the county's rich history. But to see one of the county's best attractions, you'll have to look up at the spectacular show in the skies.
Northumberland has extremely low levels of light pollution, meaning the county has the most pristine dark skies in England. This makes it one of the best places in the country to discover the night sky and go stargazing.
On this trip, you'll experience spine-tingling moments in the company of an expert astronomer, Richard Darn. You'll learn all about the awe-inspiring sights you'll see in the Northumberland skies from Richard, who is part of the team that gained International Dark Sky Reserve status for the Northumberland Dark Sky Park.
There are visits to two observatories to look forward to, where you'll access telescopes and binoculars and wander outside under the sparkling skies to see amazing constellations with the naked eye. While at the observatories, there'll be illuminating talks, workshops, and demonstrations with professionals to teach you more about the beauty of the skies above.
Between observatory trips, you'll visit one of England's most iconic historical attractions, Hadrian's Wall, explore the pretty market town of Hexham, with its colourful floral gardens and history of marauding Vikings, and take a trip to a local craft brewery.
You'll stay at the welcoming Battlesteads Hotel during your trip. This cosy pub hotel has 22 individually decorated bedrooms and a restaurant with a menu making the most of the excellent local produce to be found in Northumberland. The hotel is winner of a Gold Award from the Green Tourism Business Scheme and has a strong sustainability focus, with a carbon-neutral heating and hot water system, extensive gardens with polytunnels that provide fresh fruit and vegetables for the kitchen, locally sourced organic toiletries and wormeries that convert kilos of food waste into compost.
Reasons to book
Stay in a cosy pub hotel
Visit Hadrian’s Wall
Visit two observatories
Learn from an astronomer
Be dazzled by the stars
Your expert guide
- Two nights at Battlesteads Hotel with breakfast
- Dinner on the first night
- Private visits to Battlestead and Kielder Observatories with astronomer Richard Darn
- Entrance to Hadrian's Wall information site
- Private visit to First and Last Brewery
- Company of an expert tour guide throughout
Day1Battlesteads ObservatoryWark, United Kingdom
Today you'll arrive in Wark On Tyne, where your stargazing adventure begins. You'll meet the rest of the group at the Battlesteads Hotel, a welcoming pub hotel that will be your base as you explore Northumberland.
You'll have dinner at the hotel tonight with your guide and expert astronomer Richard Darn. Before your first starry encounter this evening, there'll be a quick introduction talk about the local area.
After dinner, you'll head to the Battlesteads Observatory for a private visit. You'll have access to much of the observatory's equipment, including three telescopes, so you can see the detail of the spectacular sights above you. There will be a workshop and a talk, so you can learn more about astronomy in Northumberland.
Day2Kielder ObservatoryHexham, United Kingdom
After breakfast, meet your guide, coach and driver for a tour of the surrounding area. You'll first visit Hadrian's Wall, the largest Roman archaeological feature in Britain. You'll then visit Hexham, a market town on the banks of the River Tyne with a bloody history of marauding Vikings, and England's first purpose-built prison, Hexham Old Gaol.
After some free time for lunch (not included) you'll enjoy a private tour of The First and Last Brewery, an award-winning, family-run microbrewery whose cask-conditioned beers are said to be inspired by the wild landscapes and starry skies of Northumberland.
You'll return to the hotel for dinner (not included) before travelling to the Kielder Observatory with Richard. The visit will include a full tour of the facility and the equipment and explanations of how the telescopes and robotic mounts work. Most importantly, there'll be plenty of opportunity for stargazing, using the large telescopes for objects like the planets, star clusters, the moon and step outside to view with the naked eye, looking at constellations, satellites and the Milky Way.
Day3DepartureWark, United Kingdom
You'll have breakfast at the hotel before checking out as your trip comes to an end.
Nestled in the picturesque village of Wark in Northumberland, Battlesteads Hotel offers guests a warm and friendly welcome, a place to unwind and relax, and attentive service in luxurious surroundings.
This friendly pub hotel is passionate about ales, beers and wines and offers beautifully appointed accommodation in uniquely styled rooms. The pub prides itself on serving locally sourced produce, complemented by home-grown fruit and vegetables.
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* From price is per person, subject to availability. Price and itinerary correct at time of print but may be subject to change. Single supplement: £130pp. Deposit: 20%. Local charges such as tourist tax may apply. Not suitable for those with mobility issues. In the case of unforeseen circumstances, expert(s) may be substituted, and any expert-led events may be subject to change. Travel insurance is not included but required for most of our trips and should be taken out at time of booking. Images used may not reflect your actual tour experience. This holiday may be sold through other selected brands. Tour is operated by and subject to the booking conditions of TS Travel Ltd.