About Peak2Valley Instruments



Located in Buxton, in the spectacular Derbyshire Peak District, Peak2Valley Instruments was founded by me, John Timmins, as a specialist supplier of refractor telescopes. We are now enjoying our ninth year of supplying premium telescopes to astronomers worldwide.
You will see that this website is far removed from the glitzy, superbly illustrated offerings of other UK suppliers, and intentionally so. Websites can be quite expensive to set up and maintain, and I have decided to keep costs to a minimum to ensure that products supplied are as competitive as possible.
Due to rising manufacturing costs, we no longer routinely produce large achromat telescopes but will advise on and quote for any non-standard instrument.
The CFF range is essentially bespoke, as the customer may select specific focal ratios, lens'tuning' to required use, back focus and ancilliary equipment.
It is not the intention to hold large stocks, again as a consideration in keeping overheads low, although at any one time a range of telescopes will be available for demonstration.
As dealers for Altair Astro, Optical Vision, Celestron/Baader, Altair Astro and Opticron/Vixen we can supply telescopes, mounts and components from their product ranges but do not routinely stock. However, we are happy to give advice on mounts and acc andessories and can supply such equipment as a package deal together with any telescope.
As there are no retail outlets, please note that potential customers are welcome to visit our Buxton premises ( appointment only please ) where a demonstration area is available. In addition, it is our intention to visit society events and exhibit the full range offered - see the events page.
The reasons for promoting refractors is discussed elsewhere and although specific optical systems are well suited to particular observing or imaging functions, we believe that well made refractors provide uncompromised performance, low maintenance and affordability. We receive an amazing number of enquiries from observers who have experienced mediocre to poor results when observing planets and low contrast objects with large aperture ( ie 8 inch plus ) mass produced catadioptric telescopes, areas where refractors excell.
The Company
Peak 2 Valley Instruments ( and subsidiary Istar Telescopes UK ) is a family run business.
Founder and Principal Partner : John Timmins FRAS ( see personal history below ) - A former industrial chemist / materials scientist / metal finishing specialist
Personal history
As an amateur astronomer of 47 years standing I have owned an astonishing range of telescopes and equipment - my first being a Prinz Astral 60 mm altaz refractor, bought second-hand in 1966 for 19 pounds-10 shillings, and my most expensive a custom-made 14 inch cassegrain/newtonian on a massive fork mount made for me in 1989 by Rob and Jim Hysom of AE Equipment, costing considerably more, and housed in a 4 metre dome. In between and since I have enjoyed using Fullerscopes, Charles Frank, Celestron, Edmund and Tal reflectors, Celestron and Meade schmidt-cassegrains and schmidt-newtonians, Orion Optics (UK) and Intes Maksutovs and refractors by H N Irving, Fullerscopes, Beacon Hill, Tal, SkyWatcher, Celestron, Vixen and Astro-Physics - on a variety of manual, driven and computerised mounts.
All of these telescopes have given me tremendous pleasure. Despite the oft-quoted limitations of the 60 mm refractor, mine gave me some surprisingly good views of the moon and planets - I recall one night of exceptional clarity allowing me to use the top magnification of 235x on Jupiter, despite the wobbly mount. And I still have that little telescope, packed away in it's case that tucks under my arm.
The instrument I used most was a Fullerscopes 8.5 inch newtonian, with a Henry Wildey mirror, on a driven MK III mounting. My father bought this for me in 1969 from Dudley Fuller at his Golders Green shop, for £100 cash. This telescope lived outside for 4 years under a plastic sheet and could be up and running in 5 minutes flat. Again, I have heard scathing comments about the flexure of the pvc tube and poor quality engineering, but this telescope gave me consistently excellent views of the solar system and deep space objects and was simple and fun to use. I collimated it initially and then only rarely thereafter. It is frequently stated that the most often used telescope is one that can be in use at a moment's notice, and this was the case with my Fullerscopes newtonian.
But my favourite telescope of all was the Astro-Physics 7 inch Starfire, mounted on a first class AstroPromotions mount custom made for me in 1991 by Rob Miller, who I believe later went to work for Roland Christen at Astro-Physics. Those lucky observers who have experienced the crisp, high contrast images produced by a sizeable refractor will understand what I mean. There is no doubt that the lack of central obstruction makes for a significant improvement in image quality over conventional reflectors and compound systems - particularly for obstructions of above 20% by diameter. It is an unfortunate fact that few if any commercially available Newtonian or compound reflectors have system performance that meet the Rayleigh limit. All conventional unobstructed refractors do, and excel not only on the sun, moon, planets, double and variable stars, but also on high powered observation of detail in low-contrast deep sky objects. It is no coincidence that refractors are the choice of many serious imagers - frequently apochromatic doublets or triplets in the 70 - 125 mm range.
There is, of course, no substitute for aperture in terms of light gathering. In my youth I recall reading that a 3 inch refractor was equivalent to a 6 inch reflector - the current wisdom suggests that a ratio of 1.4 or 1.6 to 1 is more appropriate, dependant on optical layout of the reflector. So a 6 inch refractor should equate to an 8.5 inch short-focus newtonian or 9.25 inch catadioptric. I firmly believe that the 7 inch Starfire significantly outperformed my 10 inch Meade schmidt-cassegrain, a late 1990s model bought second-hand in 2000, although I acknowledge that performance was assessed under different conditions at different locations.
In fact, experience with the superb Istar achromats has shown that the above comments are conservative. An experienced observer who bought a 150mm F15 has stated that this telescope exceeds his C14 in terms of detail, contrast and overall image quality and viewing experince, the SCT winning only on magnitude given the increased light gathering power. There is plenty of anecdotal evidence that supports this - for example, at one UK college observatory, an old AE 4.5inch refractor routinely outperforms a 16inch SCT on the planets.
Given the generally poor atmospheric characteristics experienced in most parts of the UK, the refractor will out perform other optical systems of significantly greater aperture on many occasions.
Our Products
The industry standards have been set by companies such as AstroPhysics and Takahashi, but these telescopes come at a substantial cost, often long waiting times, and may be out of reach of many amateurs.
By comparison, APM and CFF offer superb apochromatic optics - with test reports as standard - at affordable prices and short delivery times.
There are also splendid lenses an telescope assemblies being produced in the Far East these days, and products from Altair Astro, SkyWatcher and others deserve their growing reputations.
There has never been a greater range of mounts available, but increasingly the use of more sophisticated alt-az systems is apparent. The TTS Panther and Mammoth mounts, which also offer precise equatorial tracking and remarkably quick set up time, are market leaders.
By selecting our product range carefully we are confident that our range of premium quality apochromats, mounts and accessories offer the finest quality currently available anywhere together with economical introductory packages for new observers and imagers.