Where stargazers stay in the dark

Starry, starry night at Clerk Laithe.
Starry, starry night at Clerk Laithe.

Most people go on holiday for sunshine and blue skies...but at a Bowland bed and breakfast they like their skies dark.

Experts at the Royal Observatory, Edinburgh, have awarded Matthew and Helena Lewis Dark Sky Discovery status for their property, Clerk Laithe Lodge on the outskirts of Newton-in-Bowland.

Clerk Laithe Lodge in Newton in Bowland has been awarded The Dark Sky B&B for Stargazers'Pictured are Matthew Lewis with his son Oliver aged 13 with the Dark Sky Discovery Site Award.'22nd August 2015

Clerk Laithe Lodge in Newton in Bowland has been awarded The Dark Sky B&B for Stargazers'Pictured are Matthew Lewis with his son Oliver aged 13 with the Dark Sky Discovery Site Award.'22nd August 2015

The lack of urban light pollution has made their five-bedroom luxury accommodation an ideal spot to look to the night skies, and the first in Lancashire to get official Dark Sky accreditation.

“There are just a couple of street lights in the village and that’s it,” said Mr Lewis (62), who ventured into the B&B business after retiring as managing director of Total Food Service.

“We’re catering for the enthusiasts who like to look at the moon, the planets and the stars. I’m no astronomer, but I’ve got a telescope myself.”

Stargazing visitors can often see the International Space Station and can sometimes examine the Northern Lights.

The Milky Way can be clearly seen from an adjoining field in near-total darkness.

Mr and Mrs Lewis opened Clerk Laithe for bed and breakfast accommodation in April last year. It was designed to fit in with the Forest of Bowland Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and built by local craftsmen and builders.

During the day, guests can enjoy spectacular views of the Hodder Valley and the Bowland Fells ,but nights bring a bonus for the stargazers.

The couple applied for Dark Sky Discovery status earlier this year. Apart from the dark skies, Clerk Laithe also had to meet criteria of disabled access, parking and safety. Ribble Valley Borough Council backed the couple’s submission to the Royal Observatory.

In addition to their paying guests, the couple also let enthusiasts camp out in the field in return for a voluntary donation to the North West Air Ambulance, and provide them with food and drinks on request.

Mr Lewis said: “There are only a few places in other parts of the country that have Dark Sky status, and we’re very proud to be the first in Lancashire.”