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Kielder Water and Attractions
Around the Reservoir
The reservoir is the largest artificial lake in the country while the forest is the largest man-made wood in Europe. The whole scheme was planned in the late 1960s due to rising water demands from new industry and the water was first released in 1982.
The reservoir has 27 miles of shorelines to walk around as well as 600 sq. km of forest with trails varying from leisurely strolls to challenging long distance trails. There are also tracks for cyclists, horse riders and even areas, which are suitable for wheelchair users.
There are also plenty of water activities that can be undertaken on the 11 sq. km of water. There are professional clubs for canoeing, water skiing and sailing, which can be booked in advance. It is also possible to take boats or canoes onto the water, but checking beforehand for rules and regulations is always advised.
Despite being a man-made location, there is an abundance of wildlife around Kielder, and some of it that is rare in other parts of the country. There is a Super Six of species which people most want to see and can be viewed here; osprey, red squirrel, roe deer, otters, pipstrelle bats and salmon. But this is just a flash of the different species that make this spot their home.
The Ospreys have their own special viewpoint where, via a pair of binoculars, visitors can see their nesting site. They have been here since 2009 when they were recolonized to the Northumberland area and by 2012, two pairs were in residence and four chicks were raised.
50% of the country’s red squirrel population live around Kielder; making it England’s last remaining stronghold for the species. They are seen all year round and there is a special red squirrel hide at Leaplish Waterside Park.
There is also a nature reserve on the site, the Bakethin Nature Reserve that features three islands acting as a sanctuary for plants and birds as well as otters and other wildlife. There is a bird hide on the site to watch the residents without disturbing them.
What Would You Visit First?
If you were visiting Kielder, which attraction would you visit first?
Dark Skies Project
The Dark Skies Project makes use of what is described by the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England as the darkest skies in the country. Kielder is a declared Dark Sky Park, as are places such as Death Valley and Big Bend in the USA.
Making the most of this is Kielder Observatory. Events and open days are held all year around at the site and visitors can use the powerful telescopes to learn about the night sky, as well as meeting astronomers. They can also learn about the fascinating photos taken of distance objects and, if the timing it right, enjoy a meteor shower in spectacular details.
Distance from Nearby Locations
Newcastle upon Tyne
1 hr 18mins
Kielder Water Birds of Prey Centre
As a bird fanatic, this was the highlight of the visit for me. The Birds of Prey centre is at Leaplish Waterside Park and has owls, falcons, eagles, vultures and other birds as well as a few mammals too; fallow deer, wallabies and guinea pigs. There are daily flying demonstrations featuring some of the wide range of birds and the star of which must be Mandy, the African Marabou Stork.
It is a bit steep in places but the paths are all tarmacked so it is easy to get around. There is a seating area where the demonstrations take place and you can see some of the mammals from here too. There is even a famous resident; Sima the White Tailed Sea Eagle who starred in the 2010 Vindolanda movie!
Gandalf, the Ruppell Griffon Vulture
Honey the Savannah Hawk
Sienna, the Black Shouldered Kite
Kielder Castle Visitors Centre
Also within the forest, is Kielder Castle Visitor Centre, the building of which is an 18th century hunting lodge that was built by the Duke of Northumberland and is at the edge of Kielder Village. It serves as a hub for the various activists around the area including the walking and cycling trails and the forest drive.
Most of the forest lies within the Border Forest Park and the southern tip in the Northumberland National Park. The forest actually pre-dates the reservoir with the first plantings occurring in the 1920s and many unemployed men from the mining and shipbuilding industries were sent to work there. The camp they occupied during this time now rests under the water of the reservoir.
75% of the area was planted with Sitka Spruce, a species that thrives in Britain’s damp conditions. Some of the other main trees found in the forest are Norway spruce and Lodgepole Pine, Scots Pine, Larch and Douglas fir. There are also native trees such as rowan, oak, cherry, willow and beech.
The Observatory and the osprey nest are both part of the forest, though on the edge of the reservoir.
Views of the Forest across the Reservoir
Links for Kielder
- Kielder Water Birds of Prey Centre
Kielder water bird Birds Prey Owls Eagles Hawk Centre ray lowden
- Kielder Observatory
Kielder Observatory Astronomical Society
- Kielder Water & Forest Park tourist information
Official information and visitor guide for Kielder Water and Forest Park. Find Kielder accommodation, things to do, download maps
- Kielder Water and Forest Park - The official visitor website | Kielder Water and Forest Park
Visit Kielder is the official tourist information visitor website for Kielder Water and Forest Park in Northumberland. Find accommodation, attractions, events and things to do in Kielder Water.