Almost all of the west coast of the Isle of Wight is good for stargazing along with the downs and highpoints where housing is sparse. Luckily there are some good places to stay near to these dark sky areas that are especially welcoming to stargazers.
Here we’ve pulled together our Top 10 Stargazing Stays…
Best National Trust site for Camping
Compton Farm is in an especially dark spot, far from any towns or villages and nestling beneath the downs. You can easily walk up onto the downs from here to get a panoramic view or set up your telescope on the cliff above Compton Beach or, if you’re feeling energetic, down on the beach below.
Best for luxury
Despite the lighthouse, St Catherine’s Point is a good place for star watching, or above at the car park at the end of the old Blackgang Road. On the road between these two points sits the Enchanted Manor, which has an enviable reputation for its hotel/bed and breakfast accommodation – Maggie and Ric have won many accolades including ‘Three in a Bed’ and this is a hotel that will have your head in the clouds.
Best for Lording it Up
Shorwell is a very small village and it gets very dark in this shallow dell beneath the downs that is only a few minutes’ drive from the coast. Northcourt Manor sits just outside the village in 15 acres of grounds that include a pretty stream and kitchen gardens. The largest Jacobean manor house on the Island, it offers bed and breakfast and self-catering in separate wings of this imposing manor.
Gotten Manor is on the outskirts of Chale village and you can opt for bed and breakfast in the old cottage where we are told you get an absolutely wonderful organic spread. Or you could select self-catering in the Milk House or the Cart House. The skies here are dark and expansive, with paths to the downs or you can drive, or walk, down to the coast in just a few minutes.
Best for Groups
At Brook House, there is a choice of self-catering holiday cottages. Westbrook and Northbrook sit one above the other in the courtyard to Brook House, and the Old Coach House is just next door. Sleeping six, four and eight (plus two children) respectively you could accommodate a small stargazing party in the three houses. The nearest beach is Brook (a 10min walk) where the skies are luminescent with stars, and you’re right in the middle of dark sky country here.
The Isle of Wight Star Party meets at Brighstone Holiday Camp every year so you can be sure of good star gazing conditions at this location. Take your own tent or hire one of the vintage chalets, or you could bring a camper van or hire one of the ones they have on site. Telescopes can be set up near the edge of the cliff to take advantage of the low horizon far out at sea.
Best for Eggs
Free range eggs are included in your stay at Lower Dolcoppice Farm’s Old Dairy, straight from the hens on the farm that loiter around the courtyard. Walk on up this private road to the Hoy Memorial on the downs for a panoramic view of the skies and the south west coast, or just gaze from the fields surrounding this converted stone barn – it gets very dark in these parts.
Best for Being on a Working Farm
Westcourt is an old Elizabethan Manor connected to a farm of 200 acres that has been worked by the Russell family for generations. With fine views across the fields to the sea and within easy reach of Shorwell village, it’s a quick walk to the top of the downs or a short drive down to the sea with your telescopes and binoculars, but the skies around the farm will be expansive and clear.
Best for Vintage
The Mission on Blythe Shute, just outside Chale, is between Blackgang and Whale Chine and only a few minutes’ walk down ‘The Terrace’ takes you to the cliff edge – in fact the road has already gone over it. At night darkness falls like a curtain and you can drive all the way along the Military Road to Freshwater from here, taking in the skies wherever you want to stop. Inside this converted mission hall are the most wonderful vintage touches combined with the contemporary – everyone who has stayed here raves about it.
Best myisleofwight Tip
If being on the road is more up your street then hire a vintage VW camper van from Isle of Wight Camper Van Holidays and you can drive to any star gazing location you choose – a different one every night or even several in one night if you wish. Up on the downs at Culver, in the car park at Compton Beach or deep in the countryside – just pick your spot, park up and brew up on the camper’s cooker. Then lay down a blanket and you could sleep beneath the stars.