“ Address: Kielder Partnership / Tyne House / Millway / Horsley / Newcastle / Northumberland / NE15 0PA „
We spent this Easter break in the beautiful county of Northumberland in the North East of England. We were spoilt for choice firstly due to the exceptional Spring weather, but also because there really is plenty to do and see here. One place we thoroughly enjoyed spending the day at was Kielder Water and Forest Park, in the western egde of the county.
Kielder is not terribly difficult to get to, although the roads to and from it can be small and twisty at times. We approached from the town of Bellingham, and came firstly to Kielder Dam which is at the most easterly point of the main made lake that is Kielder. In fact, Kielder is actually the biggest man made lake in Northern Europe, as well as being the biggest working forest in England. According to the fact files and noitceboards that you will see, the park covers 250 square miles, so it is worth setting aside at least a day, if not more to really experience this place.
If you haven't already picked up a map either online or at a tourist office before coming to Kielder, it is a good idea to stop at the Tower Knower Visitor Centre, not far from the Dam to pick one up, and plan your day or two. With each map, there are helpful details about the locations that offer the best views which are scattered around the lake, as well as information about fishing areas, restaurants, cycle hire, sailing, accommodation, and even just information areas.
There are two main ways to see the most of the Lake, and that is either by car or by bicycle. There are some hardy souls who will walk from the Dam to Kielder Castle, which is at the furthest end of the lake, but be prepared for a long though scenic walk. We met very few people hiking, but many many families cycling the length of the lake. If you are taking the car, it is really only the left hand side of the lake that is accessible, as the main road runs alongside this side of the lake, with turn offs to the various locations and viewpoints as your travel.
As I said, we started at Kielder Dam, where there are some information boards, as well as some lovely views of this side of the lake. You are able to drive across the dam, as well as walk across it, although on this occasion we just chose to enjoy the views. The Dam itself is the height of Nelson's column in London, and there is further information about all its workings at the Tower Knowe Visitor Centre further along the road.
In fact, it was the Tower Knoew Visitor Centre where we stopped off at next. Be warned however, the peace and calm that you expect to find at this beautiful lake can often be disturbed by the astounding number of motorcyclists who enjoy the open stretch of road along the lake. Many park in this visitor car park, but the noise of the bikes is hard to miss, and seems somewhat out of place with the quiet scenery, but that's jsut a personal opinion. Inside the visitor centre is a little cafe, a shop, and an interactive exhibition which is interesting. Many visitors call at this visitor centre to book and then board the Osprey ferry that takes them across to the other side of the lake, but it is necessary to check out timetables prior to planning your visit around this. This is also a popular sstop for those coming to the lake for fishing as you can purchase fishing gear and packs on these premises. There are also toilets at this site, which is useful to remember, as although others may be marked on the map, not all are open.
Beyond this there is the Leaplish Waterside Park, which is a mega attraction for families. We didn't stop here on this occasion, but if offers food, a Birds of Prey Centre, a swimming pool and sauna, mini golf, accommodation and caravan sites, and a children's play area. It is also a popular spot for families to rent pleasure boats and to start off bike rides.
We decided instead to drive further along the road to the much quieter car park of Matthew's Linn. From here, we brought our picnic bag, and decided to walk the well marked route to the Bakethin Weir, further along the lake shore, or the Lakeside Way as the path for walking or cycling is known. Although we met plenty fo families on bicycles along the way, there was a sense of peace and tranquility around this area, away from the noise of the visitor centre, and you really feel that you are getting away from it all. We started from the car park, and followed the trail that led us under the main road bridge and then to a lovely though small suspension bridge taking you over the Lewis Burn stream/river. The path then leads through forest track, and there is one place in particular that is worth stopping at, and in fact if you time it right, there is are a few rocks that partially resemble a table and chairs, that you can take yoru picnic at, called Patterson's Pause. You would be forgiven for thinking that you are in Canadian Rockies with the exception of the mountains, as the scenery is really outstanding. Beyond this, you will cross back under the bridge and come to more forest where there is mirage to stop and admire high up in the trees and not far from this is both the Kielder Column, and the Bakethin Weir, where we decided to take our picnic lunch, although there weren't any picnic tables as such. We did the round loop back again to our car, taking under 2 hours, with a stop for lunch along the way. The scenery and surroundings were beautiful and it really is a place, particularly on a sunny day, to make your forget about the world and relax.
Beyond this, the last main stop off area is Kielder Castle Visitor Centre. It is here that there is a very popular bike hire centre, as well as a large car park. There is also a lovely cafe area with outdoor seating, and children's play area. Inside the castle, is a souvenir shop, and a very interesting exhibtiion with a short video of the 'working forest' that is Kielder. Not far from Kielder Castle is the Kielder Viaduct, which if you have time is worth the five minute walk to from the designated car park.
By the time we had down all this, we were tired and it was approaching early evening. There is no doubt that if you have a family, there really is ample to do and see. You are spoilt for choice between cycling, swimming, walking, boating etc, and with good weather Kielder is a difficult place to beat for the views and tranquility and your will see and experience. A great man made place to visit!
Kielder Park offers a wonderful experience for all the family, there are many activities that can be done like water sports, rock climbing, cycling, fishing, horse riding and many many more.
It is in Northumberland, in the North East of England it took us well over an hour to get thee but is well worth the drive.
There are miles after miles of natural beauty and mindblowing views. We went for a day and I agree with the banner on the homepage of the site, (www.visitkielder.com a day is not long enough. We arrived at around noon at Kielder castle and found the perfect spot for a family picnic.
There are many cycling rutes and have different difficulty levels, we took the 6 mile journey since we didn't have a lot of time left. These cycling rutes aren't ideal for children younger than 8 or 9. They may struggle a bit.
You can also hire a bike, the staff are very friendly and will advise you on which bike will suit you best. Also if you want to take a shorter ride than they will happily give you a discount.
Kielder castle has many facilities including toilets which are always handy, a cafeteria, a minitour maze which is great fun for kids and many other facilities.
Cycling to leaplish we came across deer, rabbits, sheep, and many birds. the views are undescribable.
The lake or reservoir is the largest man made lake in the world I think it is and has enough water to give everyone on this planet 7 gallons, so if you are asking yourself how big it is, yes it is pretty huge.
I haven't done all the activities at Kielder Park yet but this summer our family plan to go camping there, and intend to try out all the activities available.
I highly recommend this park to all familes out there, I can assure you that you will have an amazing experience.
Making the most of the lovely weather last weekend, I drove up to Kielder Water and Forest Park here in Northumberland. Fortunately this spectacular reservoir and forest isn't too far from where I live. It takes less than an hour to reach Kielder from Newcastle, so we didn't have to spend much of the glorious weather stuck in the car travelling.
Kielder Water is northern Europe's largest man-made lake with a surface area of over 11 square kilometres and the forest is the largest in England. Therefore it may not be possible to see all Kielder has to offer in just one visit. I have visited several times over the years at different times of the year. It looks very picturesque in the winter time, but can also get very cold at Kielder. Even in the milder months it can be windy and quite chilly, so it is lovely to visit here when we do get a warm sunny day or when we are experiencing one of those rare heatwaves!
Visiting Kielder is a great day out and there are also lodges available for holidays and breaks. We spent our recent visit stopping off at the waterside parks and visitor centres around the lake as well as visiting Kielder Castle which is the base for the forest drive and walks.
~~Kielder Castle & Visitor Centre~~
This is an ideal place to begin your visit to Kielder and if you are visiting for the first time, I highly recommend you visit here first.
The castle was built in 1775 as the hunting lodge for the Duke of Northumberland. These days, on visiting the castle you will see various exhibitions on the history of the castle, the management of the vast forest and also exhibitions on the forest wildlife.
The exhibitions do change and there are also monthly art displays by local North East artists in the Duchess Gallery.
I was pleased to discover that new for this year there is now a 'Red Squirrel Centre'. I love red squirrels and a room has been set aside at the castle and devoted entirely to red squirrels.
I particularly enjoyed the live 'Squirrel Cam' where you can view the squirrels feeding in the forest. We were lucky enough to be able to see some on our visit.
Children will enjoy the squirrel room with its fun and interactive displays, that teach about red squirrel conservation, the threat of grey squirrels and what is being done at Kielder to ensure the future of the red squirrel.
The highlights of the room for the children visiting at the time of our visit seemed to be the squirrel 'feely' box and the interactive computer.
The Duke's Pantry restaurant serves meals and snacks, but on this occasion as the weather was so nice, we had opted for a picnic which we ate at the picnic tables in the grounds.
This is ideal for families, as nearby there is an adventure playground, bird viewing platforms and also a maze which is built of basalt stone and glass. There is also a gift shop.
I have fond memories of visiting here once when my daughters were much younger, when on suggesting to my eldest daughter that she might like to go to the fort (in the adventure playground), she asked what a fort was. I was about to reply when my youngest daughter piped up that a fort was a place where you go to think about things! That was one of those moments I shall never forget, what a shame children have to grow up!
The castle is also where the mountain bike trails begin, as well as three walking trails and the impressive (and long) forest drive which is 12 miles long and is one of England's highest roads offering some spectacular views. There is a toll of £3 to drive along this, but it is worth every penny. It also will take you quite a while as the speed limit is 15mph.
The walking trails range from gentle strolls to those more suited to the more serious walker. There is also a link from the castle to join the Lakeside Way at Bakethin Viaduct, which again offers stunning scenery. We were the only people at the Viaduct for a while and it was really peaceful. Many visitors spend their time around the castle and grounds, or the other waterside parks, but I recommend you take a walk and explore a little if you are able.
~~Tower Knowe Visitor Centre~~
I mentioned there are other visitor centres and waterside parks at Kielder and Tower Knowe is the place to visit if you fancy a trip out on the reservoir courtesy of The Osprey ferry.
I didn't take a trip out on the reservoir on my recent visit but have done so in the past. It is a great way to discover Kielder Water and again the views are stunning. Full and part sailings (from waterside park to park) are available and prices range from £4.15 - £6.40 depending on your choice of trip. There are also concessions for children and over 60's as well as family tickets.
Tower Knowe is also popular with those who enjoy fishing, with tackle and starter packs available in the shop. There is also a cafe here which has lovely views out across the water.
~~Leaplish Waterside Park~~
Leaplish is where you will find the luxury lodges available for self-catering holidays and breaks. It also has a caravan park for touring caravans. You don't have to be staying at Leaplish to visit as some of the facilities are open to day visitors also, such as the Kielder Water Birds of Prey Centre, miniature golf, squirrel hides and playpark. You can also board the Osprey ferry here.
I love Owls and you will find them here at the Birds of Prey Centre along with great white pelicans, eagles, falcons and vultures, as the centre cares for these birds as well as fallow deer and wallabies.
There is also a route from here which links up with the Lakeside Way I mentioned earlier which takes you to the viaduct.
There is even an observatory at Kielder for star gazing enthusiasts, as this part of the country is famed for having the darkest night skies in England due to minimal light polution.
Visit www.kielderobservatory.org for more info and event lisitings.
Visitors to Kielder I am sure will not be stuck for something to do. It remains one of my favourite places to visit. Its remoteness and beauty is quite breathtaking. I personally enjoy driving from park to park and walking around enjoying the scenery, rounding off my visit with a drive along the forest drive, which I cannot recommend highly enough. I also love going to see the owls if I have time.
The parks and visitor centres are open daily from April to November with restricted opening during winter months.
Please note you will have to purchase a £3 parking ticket, but this is valid to use at all of the car parks throughout your visit.
Kielder Water and Forest Park is a great place to visit and can be enjoyed by the whole family, but I do believe one day really is not long enough to experience everything Kielder has to offer. Even if you can only visit for one day, Kielder is highly recommended by me!
Kielder Water & Forest Park
Tel: +44 01434 251000