THE Elan Valley has been named inside the top 10 best places on the planet for stargazing.

Inghams, which specialises in active holidays around the lakes and mountains of Europe and Canada, placed the Elan Valley at ninth in its top 10 stargazing spots on Earth.

The remote Powys estate, covering 45,000 acres and which achieved International Dark Sky Park status in 2015, found itself in the company of a South Korean firefly eco park, a Taiwanese mountain and one park located deep in the foothills of the Alps.

The Elan Valley was the only UK entry to make the global top 10, with Northern Ireland’s OM Dark Sky Park & Observatory ranked in the top 20.

“We couldn’t agree more with Inghams walking experts, who recently ranked the Elan Valley as the 9th best Dark Sky Park in the world,” said the Elan Valley Estate on its Facebook page.

Canada’s Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park was ranked No1; the Yeongyang Firefly Eco Park in South Korea was second and Greece’s Ainos National Park was third.

There are three USA entries, one in the Netherlands, Taiwan and Austria.

The Elan Valley Estate scored highly across all categories, receiving a 4.7 review score (out of 5.0) on both Google and All Trails.

The fact it is only subject to 50 monthly searches on average adds to the allure of it being situated so remotely.

County Times:  The Milky Way Galaxy in all its glory arching over the Claerwen Dam in the Elan Valley. Picture by Sean Weekly. The Milky Way Galaxy in all its glory arching over the Claerwen Dam in the Elan Valley. Picture by Sean Weekly.

County Times:  Prime place: The dark skies above the Elan Valley are perfect for viewing the stars. Prime place: The dark skies above the Elan Valley are perfect for viewing the stars.

County Times: Credit Dafydd Wyn Morgan Credit Dafydd Wyn Morgan (Image: Dafydd Wyn Morgan)

Inghams, in an online article published last month, said of the Elan Valley: “The UK’s first entry in our starry night experience index is found in Mid Wales.

“In the heart of the Cambrian Mountains, (the) Elan Valley provides explorers with lots of exciting trails and outdoor activities that will immerse you in the gorgeous rolling hills and spectacular dams found here.

“The Elan Valley has become of interest to visitors and locals as a place to enjoy and explore the beautiful, natural Welsh countryside.

“The site’s trust have gone to great care to protect and raise awareness of how fragile the nighttime environment is, setting up measures to keep the skies dark in this area.”


The Elan Valley has for years been a hugely popular visitor attraction in Powys during the daytime, but in the last decade there have also been a lot more nighttime visitors, with the estate becoming popular with astronomers and stargazers.

In 2015, the Elan Valley Estate achieved International Dark Sky Park status and became the first privately owned but publicly accessible park in the world to do so.

The estate was granted silver-tier status by the International Dark Sky Association (IDA) which means the entire 45,000 acres of the Elan Valley are protected against light pollution.

Dark Skies protections benefit those who live and work here, as well as visitors. The status also provides for the sanctuary of wildlife and nature which can be found by day or night across the estate. Reducing light pollution also reduces energy use and cost.

Some of the most recommended spots for stargazing on the estate are at the Claerwen Dam car park, the Craig Goch Dam car park, the Claerwen Dam, Pont ar Elan and the Teifi Pools.

County Times:

Best places on Earth for stargazing, according to Inghams:     

1 Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park, Canada

2 Yeongyang Firefly Eco Park, South Korea

3 Ainos National Park, Greece 

4 Mayland Earth to Sky Park & Bare Dark Sky Observatory, USA             

5 UbarU Camp and Retreat Center, USA            

6 Pickett CCC Memorial State Park & Pogue Creek Canyon State Natural Area, USA   

7 Hehuan Mountain, Taiwan     

8 De Borschplaat, Netherlands              

9 Elan Valley Estate, Wales       

10 Naturpark Attersee-Traunsee, Austria