the observatory at the poltimore inn

The Observatory at The Poltimore Inn

We have created a facility which is for use by patrons of the Poltimore Inn to come and see the benefits of the exmoor dark sky national park. I felt that we needed to spark curiosity into our dark skies, for not only the older generation, but the younger generation. There is such a vast gulf between the age groups of the traditional observer of the dark sky, I felt a fresh approach was needed. I was brought up in an era where my uncle interested me with a brass telescope on top of a coal bunker looking at the moon, the landing on the moon and the Apollo missions to todays space station, the Hubble telescope and the James Webb telescope that has just been launched

For me to have the same sort of impact as my uncle had, I felt a new approach was required

The younger generation are on their tablets, telephones and exercising their thumbs and require more immediate results than waiting long periods of time for images to become clear.

During one of my previous experiences in scuba diving, I made the mistake of going in the water with a traditional 35mm camera 30 years ago. Within the space of 2 years, digital cameras were launched with waterproof housings and rather than waiting days for the results of the images and finding that you had rubbish pictures, our daughter was editing her shots underwater whilst taking pictures of seals off of Lundy.

So, when being advised down the traditional route of a telescope that had to be guided by the North Star and only 1 person being able to look through the eyepiece at a time, I was made aware of a new generation of telescopes.  These allow up to 8 people or more to look simultaneously at nebula and constellations, with a motorised mount that has pre-programmed destinations and the ability to automatically GPS its location, whether that be at the pub or on Exmoor and having mobility and flexibility.  This type of telescope, the Unistellar Evoscope Equinox,  is the future of observing the night sky for new enthusiasts of astronomy.  The simplicity of its use makes it ideal for all age groups and abilities, only enthusiasm is required. It is light and portable and images are blue toothed to your mobile device for viewing. This gives me the opportunity to include groups of adults, a local club of astronomers, a school group or other interested groups for which the images are attainable in minutes rather than hours and are updated second by second.

The observatory has sleeping facilities, we also have a retractable roof so that you are not out in the elements, a viewing platform for the ease of using traditional telescopes which we also have for looking at the moon and the closer planets. We also have levelled areas, landscaped into the countryside, for the use of your own equipment. With the benefit of the other lodges being in close proximity, our customers can experience the opportunity of staying and using the observatory

We have also made the accommodation in such a way that we can encourage touring motorbike groups, cycling groups, walkers on exmoor, etc with a panoramic view from our restaurant of the local countryside and comfortable beer garden with a dog friendly environment.

Part of the ethos that we like to follow is our sustainability and bringing benefit to the local economy by employing local staff from surrounding villages of which most are born and bred in the local parishes.  We also like to use local produce, for instance, eggs, meat, cheese, potatoes, ice cream

We have recently put 85 PV solar cells on the roof of the pub which has substantially enhanced our ability to cut our carbon footprint. This will mean that our reliance on traditional forms of electricity production will decrease. We are striving to attain the highest possible EPC standards as goals have been set for the industry by 2027. Our cooking facility is being switched from gas to electric induction to help reduce our carbon footprint.

For our wood fires we have seasoned locally coppiced wood. Our beer suppliers have their own sustainability policy, our ale producers actively plant trees to off-set their carbon footprint. We have also moved to our own water supply using local specialist’s in this field to comply with all safety regulations. Our windows are all double glazed and we have  implemented a policy of LED lighting throughout. We have stopped using single use toiletries in our shower rooms  in favour of refillable containers. We have a dog exercise zone and a dog friendly environment at the pub and accommodation and encourage responsible dog ownership on site so that all guests can enjoy the environment that we are trying to create

Each of the lodges is equipped with a lockable hard standing for touring motorbikes. These hard earned luxuries are precious to their owners and to have them close at hand will give them peace of mind that they are locked up just outside their door.

We are located on Exmoor in beautiful North Devon with its rugged coastline and award winning beaches.  It is an area noted for its surfing and walking, links golf courses, UNESCO listed Braunton Burrows and the Exmoor National Park that is now an International Dark Sky Reserve designated by the International Dark Sky Association.