Astronomy in the Yorkshire Dales

I would recommend this trip to anyone. You see a delightful area of England, breathe real fresh air, hardly any road noise and, when the weather is kind.

As a newcomer, I had no idea what to expect of this meeting of the West Didsbury Astronomical Society.  As it turned out, this was a most enjoyable experience. The road to the Yorkshire Dales was an interesting drive, especially at night. Hardly a straight piece of track as I travelled across Yorkshire from the M6 to the bunkhouse. There is a better way I discovered on the return trip.


The group was based  in a bunkhouse in Wenslydale.  Meals depended on the day. Friday evening at the chip shop in Hawes. Breakfast DIY at the school. Saturday lunch anywhere in Hawes. Saturday dinner at the school.

As for the astronomical side of things, alas one is at the mercy of English weather. Friday night proved the better (and only) night to get any observing done. It was still a little hit and miss I’m afraid. Rolling low cloud did it’s best to spoil our enthusiasm.  Despite this, everyone made a serious effort to achieve some astronomy. Various pieces of equipment were tried. This included an unusual mirror whose optics defied everyone’s description. Despite the weather, a good time was had by one and all.

The bunkhouse  provides adequate space to relax when the weather is unkind. A typically British camaraderie develops. Everyone mixes well and I think I can say, a good time was had by one and all.


Saturday came with a bright start. The group made their way down to the nearby village of Hawes. Some took the relaxed way and drove. Others braved the environment and walked  either along the road or via a distinctly muddy footpath across the fields.  Hawes proved to be village with some character, including an old fashioned sweet shop. It also boasts an excellent Fish & Chip shop where the group rendezvous on Friday evening.

Saturday evening we all gather back at the bunkhouse for an excellent meal provided by society members. After dinner, it became clear that the skies were not going to clear and so the group dispersed. Some watched a movie at the school, some played games, some retired to the staff room (and warm fire) for simple conversation and a few retired to the nearby Green Dragon.

Sunday, all hands to the mill. Everyone gathered at the school to clean up and return the building to the state expected. Brush, mop and wash was the order of the day. In no time at all the place was spick and span.  We all said our goodbyes and drifted homewards. Go home via Hawes and the B6255/A687/A683 reaching the M6 at junction 34. It is the hypotenuse as opposed to the other 2 sides (M6 J37/A684).

I would recommend this trip to anyone. You see a delightful area of England, breathe real fresh air, hardly any road noise and, when the weather is kind, an excellent location for observing and make lots of new friends. If you are interested you can also see this map of other bunkhouses in Yorkshire.

Next year, a few prayers for better weather wouldn’t go amiss. I for one will sign up. I recommend you do too! B. J. Weatherilt

About 11hostelguide

Independent Hostels UK (IHUK) is a network of 350 hostels, bunkhouses, camping barns and bothies across England, Wales and Scotland. IHUK's handbook The Independent Hostel Guide is printed annually and this website give details of all the accommodation in the network and holiday ideas as weekly blogs. Follow our facebook, instagram and twitter to keep in touch.