Wimbleball Lake
is proud to be a Dark Sky Discovery Site on the south eastern corner of Exmoor National Park, itself an International Dark Sky Reserve as recognised by the International Dark Sky Association.

We invite you to join us at our Dark Sky Discovery Hub where you can experience and learn more about:

  • Stargazing and what you can see in the night sky
  • Nocturnal wildlife
  • Being creative – be inspired by storytelling, art and wellbeing sessions, astrophotography workshops.

The hub is a purpose-built stone structure with low seating designed to let you sit down and experience views out over the lake and the starry skies. There’s a circular flat patio style platform in front for the use of telescopes.

The hub has been made possible thanks to generous funding from Exmoor National Park AuthorityHinkley Tourism Action Partnership and our supporters.

The nearby Activity Centre has facilities for indoor presentations, shelter from the weather, toilet and classroom facilities. Visit the Activity Centre to pick up your free copy of the Exmoor National Park Dark Skies Pocket Guide.  In total our site extends to 530 acres.

We offer camping too – and groups are invited to book and use the hub and perhaps book their own stargazing guide. For more information about booking the hub, email [email protected] or call 01398 371460. For more information about stargazing guides, see Exmoor National Park's stargazing webpage

Nocturnal wildlife at Wimbleball

Wimbleball Lake has a variety of habitats, including woodlands, meadows and open water, and is a haven for wildlife at all times of the day. During the night, keep a look out and listen for:

  • Birds such as owls and thrushes. Tawny owls are most often heard and make a twit or a twoo sound and redwing can be heard migrating over head with a zeee sound. If you are very lucky, you might hear a nightjar.
  • Mammals such as bats and foxes. Both can be seen hunting over our meadows, the brown long-eared bats will be looking for insects and foxes will be looking for larger prey such as field voles.
  • Invertebrates such mayflies, midges, moths, beetles and lacewings. Moths here can vary in size, shape and colours, some of our larger moths, like the hawk moths, can be up to 12cm.

Top sky views over the lake

  • Milky Way – The Milky Way is best observed in the summer months. This is our spiral galaxy home and is made up of well over 100 billion stars, of which the Sun is just one. The Milky Way Galaxy appears in the sky like a line of wispy dark cloud with a lighter area behind. This is you looking in towards the centre of our galaxy from the outer spiral arm edge! The Ancient Greeks used to think that it looked like “spilt milk” across the sky, hence its name. Try using a pair of binoculars directly looking at the wispy cloud. You should be able to see thousands of stars!

    Photograph: Jonathan Warner

  • Moon – The Moon is our closest celestial neighbour at some 384,000 kilometres (238,000 miles) away. It reflects light coming from the Sun and makes an orbit of Earth roughly once every month. As it moves around the Earth, different parts of it are illuminated at different times of the month for us to see! The Moon, especially when in its full phase, can be a source of natural light pollution which can drown out all but the brightest stars and planets, so stargazing is often at its best when there is a new Moon. If, however, you want to make observations of the Moon itself, this is best done when it is in either a quarter or crescent Moon phase.

  • Constellations – Whatever the time of year, look out for these constellations over Wimbleball. Here in the Northern hemisphere, we have five circumpolar constellations. These star patterns never dip below our horizon and are therefore visible all year round. They include the constellations of Ursa Major (The Great Bear), Ursa Minor (The Little Bear), Cassiopeia (The Seated Queen), Draco (The Dragon) and Cepheus (The King). Try looking towards the North from the Wimbleball Dark Sky Discovery Hub and see how many you can spot!

  • Planets – Some of our nearest planetary neighbours can been seen here at Wimbleball with the naked eye. These are Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn. They often appear as bright stars which do not appear to twinkle, especially when directly overhead. For a better view why not try using a telescope or a pair of binoculars at the Wimbleball Dark Sky Discovery Hub? As planets are orbiting the Sun at different rates, the time when you can observe them changes. The best way of finding out where they will be and when is by using an astronomy app such as Stellarium.

Visit the Activity Centre to pick up your free copy of the Exmoor National Park Dark Skies Pocket Guide. 

Astrophotography at the lake

Wimbleball Lake is a favourite spot for astrophotographers. With the reflections of the stars in the water, incredible shots are within the reach of many amateur photographers. As the sun is setting on a cloudy evening, the views can be equally stunning.

Learn more at https://www.skyatnightmagazine.com/astrophotography/a-beginners-guide-to-astrophotography/

Photograph: Pete Watson

Dark skies for wellbeing and inspiration

The darkness and tranquility of a dark sky, studded with jewel-like stars, can be an inspiration to many and realising that we are all under one sky helps us connect with humans from all over the world. The hub is an ideal spot to sit, and watch the darkness descend and the stars come out. Be inspired at events throughout the year including stargazing, storytelling, meditation and mindfulness, yoga, art workshops and guided night walks.

Tips for enjoying the dark safely

  • Wrap up warm and take a flask of hot drink
  • Bring a red torch and a mobile phone
  • Give your eyes at least 20 minutes to get used to seeing in the dark
  • Let someone know where you are going and when you should be back 

Tips for minimising light pollution and protecting the darkness

Light pollution affects the darkness and interrupts the natural rhythms of plants, wildlife and humans. Wherever you are: 

  • Always turn off unnecessary lights
  • Use less powerful bulbs and choose ones with a softer, amber glow
  • Shield outdoor lights from the sky – make sure the light is directed down to the ground where it is needed
  • When exploring the outdoors at night, use red coloured torch light to protect your night vision

How to find/contact us

Wimbleball Lake, Brompton Regis, Dulverton, TA22 9NU

Easting (x): 296798

Northing (y): 130918

What3words: inflating.sensibly.relaxing

For further information call 01398 371460 // [email protected]

For more information about stargazing, Exmoor's dark skies, festivals and telescope hire visit the Exmoor National Park stargazing webpage