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Kielder Water and Attractions

Updated on April 28, 2014

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.

Kielder Water



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.


show route and directions
A markerKielder Reservoir -
Kielder Water, Hexham, Northumberland NE48, UK
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B markerKielder Castle -
Kielder Castle Forest Park Centre, Hexham, Northumberland NE48 1ER, UK
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C markerKielder Observatory -
Kielder Observatory, Kielder, Northumberland NE48 1EJ, UK
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D markerKielder -
Kielder, Hexham, Northumberland NE48, UK
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E markerKielder Forest -
Kielder Forest, Hexham, Northumberland NE48, UK
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What Would You Visit First?

If you were visiting Kielder, which attraction would you visit first?

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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

Distance (Miles)
Newcastle upon Tyne
1 hr 18mins
1hr 27mins


Mandy the African Maribou Stork
Mandy the African Maribou Stork | Source

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.

Kielder Forest

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



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      Jabed 3 years ago

      . The underlying facts and cencorns are the same, but people do seem to turn off when you mention scary words like peak oil or climate change. Perhaps its because they are essentially negative. Whereas resilience and community are positive. And seeing as the transition movement is all about taking positive action, I reckon it's a good fit.Regarding facts and figures; I agree, we could have more resources to hand. If you'd like to start collating this information together, then we could set up a page to help others digest the knowledge that's out there. But I think there are other ways to convince people to change habits regardless of environmental motivations. I was talking to someone on the train the other day who frequently travels the length of the country, by train. I was surprised by this as most people I know who travel for work do so by car. His answer to this was that car travel is simply a huge waste of his time. Sure he may get there an hour quicker, but he's still spent 3-5 hours in a metal box, doing nothing. Whereas on the train he can use that time to actually do something. I loved this as it completely turned round a well held notion of cars being a time saver. Great

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      Steffi 3 years ago

      That hits the target pecrlftey. Thanks!