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Dark place in Hertfordshire?


Marvaz
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Hello everyone.

I live in Watford. That's not good place for our hobby ;-). I'm involved in astrophotography and doing something from my backyard but all I need is darker place. I'm looking for place in Hertfordshire or near by with dark skies. Will be great if I could have power supply and also stay for two or three nights for astrophotography purpose. Maybe you now something? Obviously I'm able to pay reasonable £ for it.

Let me now if you have anything in your mind.

Kind regards

Marek

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No idea how good or bad this may be:

Years back used to visit friends and I had to drive past some reservoirs that seem to be just North of Tring.

The one named Wilstone Res has a car park and I assume that you go up a footpath to get to the top.

There won't be power, not sure how much light comes from Tring.

Pay the place a visit during daylight to have a look round and talk to people.

If any good you might be advised to enquire about a fishing licence, as I would assume that they presume anyone there is fishing, or access may be to those with fishing permits.

The road that gives access has 2 literal right angle turns and the reservoir and car park are on one. For you getting there is fairly easy - up the A41 but getting off the A41 on to the B489 looks restricted.

If you specifically wanted a stay and power then you may have to look at places Caravan Club sites. The only one I know of as I used to pass it is along the A120 West of Little Hadham. Reasonably dark but still light pollution from places and you may need both caravan and CC membership. So more complex.

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Henlow bridge lakes is about 5 minutes from my house

It is just off the a507 so could be liable to car lights, it is also right by the mainline rail links to peterborough and t'north.

Just round the corner, probably between the lakes camp site and henlow grange are some fields, and the local cricket pitch. LIghting should be at a minimum, and there are pretty decent views all around. there is also a pub about 5 minutes walk in case things get cloudy!

Ive only walked round there during the day so not sure what it is like at night, but looks a decent location but ive never had the enthusiasm to go up there on my own and jsut end up messing about in my back garden.

post-16382-0-72282900-1376554885_thumb.p

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Hi Marek,

Interesting problem.

Reg and myself went birdwatching yesterday to the Tring reservoirs.

I think the Wilstone one would be good. Possible some light pollution from Aylesbury and/or Luton.

I spoke to some fishermen there a few years back, they said that they fish through the night.

There is Pitstone Hill nearby with a good size car park.

We are planning to do an evening visit.

Cheers

Adrian

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Drove past it a number of times, and it is further away from Watford but Pitstone to Ivanhoe, through Invahow and just after Ivanhow turn left towards Dunstable and there is a big hill. Think there is a road/track up it and possibly a carpark at the top. That should be a good location.

Don't think it is Pitstone Hill (might be however) have an idea something beacon.

You would see light from Dunstable+Luton but you should be a fair distance off and above it. Check for the odd lion, tiger or bear escapee from Whipsnade. :grin: :grin: :grin:

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  • 2 weeks later...

I live in Milton Keynes but have a friend who lives in Cheddington and has recommended the Tring reservoirs as a good site. I am hoping to get out in the week for a decent session so I will report back if I find somewhere suitable. I thought about some of the village locations on the way so might not even get as far as Tring if I find a dark sky. Anyhing is better than home - although probably not as bad as some!

Michael

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So..... Last night I went to Wilstone reservoir and although the site itself is fairly dark, there is some light pollution from Aylesbury. The main problem that I found (other than the cloud cover) was that it is directly underneath a flight path which I guess is for Luton airport. The planes had landing lights and it completely ruined the dark. I was surprised at how busy the road was as well - I stayed until around 11 and there was regular traffic with full beam headlights going past. Any light from the clouds is also reflected in the water if you go up to the path so in all it was a bit of a loss.

I also tried Pitstone Hill on the way and the car park was being used by a lorry to dump materials so I don't know if that was a regular thing or a one-off for resurfacing the car park! This site also didn't seem as dark as I thought it would be and as soon as you got away from the car park, the lights from Pitstone village were clearly visible. I didn't hang around for the clouds to clear.....

An unexpected bonus was that I saw the Milky Way on my way back from Pitstone. Driving along the Leighton Buzzard bypass back to MK (A4146) I realised that it was very dark and stopped in a layby. As soon as I got out of the car I noticed the nebulosity and it was very clear despite the traffic going past. All that travelling and it turns out I have a dark site almost on my doorstep! I will explore the area to the west of the bypass as I assume it has more potential than I realise.

Here's hoping for more clear skies,

Michael

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It's funny what you find when you stop looking for it! Sounds like the airport and traffic were enough to deter you from your first site, though I have read somewhere that near bodies of water is not ideal due to the air currents that can emanate from them, not sure in practise how much of a factor this is though.

Does this mean that you will be doing all your observing from a layby from now on?!

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Yes I may just do that! I have had a look on Google Maps and it seems that all the roads just off the bypass are private tracks to farms so it looks like there is no public access. I will be going past the site in daylight tomorrow and may just have a little drive around to see if there is a convenient stopping place.

That said, I may just try the random driving around tactic again and see what I find!

it looks like it will be a clear night tonight so I will stick to the garden for now. I got a Rigel Quikfinder a few weeks ago and it has transformed my ability to find things rather than using the useless Celestron red dot finder. I'm off to hunt for DSO's!

Michael

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  • 4 months later...
  • 3 weeks later...

Yes that's the car park I went to. As I mentioned, the lights from the village could be seen but I'm sure there would be a good position to the left of the car park as you go in - it was being used by a large lorry on the evening I went!

The road itself was not busy so I don't think you would be disturbed if you used the site but I would prefer to visit again with some company because it is close enough to civilisation to possibly attract the wrong sort if people.

I haven't managed to get out to another site due to my small children and their inability to sleep at a convenient time but let me know if you get there and have a better experience.

Michael

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