Finding what is unique about your area may lead down unexpected paths. In Galloway and Southern Ayrshire Biosphere they are exploring the possibilities of enjoying the sky at night – developing “Darkness Tourism”.
By Marie McNulty – Galloway and Southern Ayrshire Biosphere
As the only community in Galloway Forest Dark Sky Park, Glentrool Village is a location for the development of eco-tourism in the Galloway and Southern Ayrshire Biosphere. Glentrool Village recently celebrated the dark skies with a Darkness and Stars event. Led by local enthusiast Elizabeth Tindal, a Freelance Ranger and Biosphere Dark Sky Ranger, the event was an opportunity to explore what we are now referring to through the SHAPE project as ‘Darkness Tourism’. Elizabeth was joined by local astronomer Hunter McCall who is developing an observatory in the village of Glentrool for both locals and visitors to use. PhD student Natalie Marr from the University of Glasgow – School of Geography and Earth Sciences, was on hand to lead conversations about experiencing darkness and what darkness means to people. Natalies research ‘Skies above, Earth Below’ is mapping the value of the Galloway Forest Dark Sky Park.The event attracted around 40 people who participated in star gazing, walks in the dark and spending time around a fire pit enjoying toasted marshmallows!
The aim of the event was to show how a community like Glentrool can interact with others interested in opportunities for Darkness Eco-Tourism and keeping their skies dark. Other types of darkness activities being explored through the SHAPE project are night cycling, night walks and midnight picnics. The stars don’t always come out but we can guarantee its always very dark!