Richard Slade, owner of Battlesteads Hotel and Restaurant in Wark, Northumberland, explains why opening an observatory was a natural step on their sustainable journey.

This year has been a big one for Battlesteads – not only is 2015 the year my wife Dee and I celebrate our 10-year anniversary of owning the hotel and restaurant, but we have officially become the only hotel in the UK to open an on-site observatory.

It may seem like quite an odd choice of diversification, but we are based on the edge of Northumberland National Park, the largest protected Dark Sky Park in Europe, and we had held a vision for many years to open up our beautiful skies to guests.

Astro-tourism is an emerging and growing leisure market, and it also links in with our ethos of sustainability which we have been developing over the years.

We’ve made the hotel and restaurant as sustainable as we can, and we’re proud to have been honoured with a number of awards for this including holding Three Star Sustainability Champion status with the SRA.

At the start of this year we opened five new eco-lodges, and the observatory is perfect for guests staying there who want to get the most out of their visit to Battlesteads and book a course to discover our brilliant dark skies.

The observatory has just been awarded with Dark Sky Discovery Site status, which means it’s one of the few places in the UK far enough away from light pollution to be able to see the Milky Way with the naked eye.

We’re offering a wide range of courses for groups of up to 25 budding or seasoned astronomers. Our in-house expert Roy Alexander runs courses targeted at all levels of stargazer, from introductory ‘Get to know your telescope’ sessions to sessions focussing on identifying and tracking some of the night-sky’s star performers.

We want our hotel and restaurant guests to be able to enjoy luxury accommodation, fantastic food and new experiences knowing that it isn’t costing the earth. That’s why sustainability always has and always will be at the top of our agenda here at Battlesteads.

The observatory was officially opened last month and we’re looking forward to welcoming lots of new and returning guests to experience it for themselves.

Courses at the Battlesteads observatory are priced starting at £15 per person and the eco-lodges are priced at £165 per night for bed and breakfast based on two people sharing.

For more information about Battlesteads Hotel and Restaurant and the observatory visit www.battlesteads.com.