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Kielder Water Forest Park

See also Kielder Water Birds of Prey Centre

Kielder Water view by Barbara Ballard There is much to see and do at Kielder Water Forest Park. It’s great on your own but is particularly attractive for families. Kielder Reservoir, with 27 miles of shoreline, is the largest man-made lake in northern Europe with a surface area of over 11 square kilometres. The forest spreads over 600 square kilometres.

Walking, cycling, fishing, boating, horse riding, wildlife observing, and nature will keep you busy for several days. Kielder Water Forest Park is home to 50% of England's red squirrel population and a hide gives an opportunity for viewing. Walkers may encounter badgers, roe deer, otters, shrews, seven species of bat, and birds of prey. Twenty pieces of outdoor public art are located along one of the forest walks.
Kielder Water view by Barbara Ballard Start at the Tower Knowe Visitor Centre, the gateway to the park, where you can visit the Explore centre and learn about the many facets of the park. It’s an interesting introduction to the area. It’s also the spot to board the ferry and relax on a tour around the lake. Walks and bike rides lead from here along the lake. A shop sells everything you need to get fishing, and there’s even a café for a cuppa.

Accommodation in the park is self-catering at Leaplish Waterside Park. There’s also a YHA. At the location are an indoor heated swimming pool, a restaurant, caravanning site, miniature golf course, shop, and children's play area. You can also catch the ferry here for a trip around the water. There are sailing lessons on offer, or you can hire a boat or bring your own to launch. Even water skiing is available. On a waterside path is a red squirrel hide.

Saker Falcon at Birds of Prey Centre by Barbara Ballard The Kielder Water Birds of Prey Centre, at Leaplish, is sure to provide some excitement. Owls, falcons, and vultures participate in daily flying demonstrations. There are hunting days, hawk walks, and falconry courses. As well there are fallow deer, wallabies, guinea pigs, and red squirrels. Two tame great white pelicans can be fed. The centre focuses on conservation, but also educates. Its bird population numbers 70.

Further along the lake is the Kielder Castle Visitor Centre. The castle was once a hunting lodge for the Duke of Northumberland. Now it houses exhibitions on the forest and its birds. There’s a gallery with local collections of artwork, a shop and a refreshment spot. For the kids there’s an adventure playground and maze. The scenic forest drive begins here. A mountain bike centre and trails begin here as do hiking trails.

View over Kielder Water by Barbara Ballard The Kielder Salmon Centre is a conservation hatchery. Besides breeding 900,000 salmon per year it breeds pearl mussels. The visitor centre tells the story and you can book a behind the scenes tour.

The Calvert Trust Kielder provides holidays and outdoor activities for all ages and abilities. These include archery, orienteering, indoor climbing wall, abseiling, sailing, canoeing, trail buggies, and kayaking. There’s a zip wire and a king swing (book in advance). At the location are self catering and fully serviced accommodation.

View from observatory by Barbara Ballard An observatory in the park provides clear skies for night viewing of the stars. In fact it has the darkest night sky in England. It’s reached during the day by a 50 minute uphill walk, but the road and building are only open for cars at nights for events. Events need to be booked ahead from their website—see below. They also put on star camps. Nearby is a skywatch building, a fascinating round room with a circular open roof highlighting just the sky. Blocking out all views except the sky it has a mesermising effect.

Looking across Kielder Water by Barbara Ballard There’s a map and a walking guide of the Forest Park, which can be downloaded from the website. An excellent booklet, free of charge, is available from the Forest Park or at Visitor Information Centres.

Visitor Information

Kielder Water Forest Park
Tel. 0 1434 220 616
Kielder Water Forest Park official website: Visit Kielder

From Jedburgh/the north- east of Scotland: head south on the A68, then the B6320 from Otterburn to Bellingham. Follow the brown signs to Kielder Water & Forest Park.
From the north-west of Scotland: follow the A7 and turn at Canonbie to join the B6357 to Newcastleton. Kielder Water & Forest Park is signposted from there.
From Newcastle or Carlisle: take the A69 to Hexham, then the B6320 to Bellingham (brown-signed Kielder Water & Forest) and then the C200 to Kielder Water & Forest Park.

Tower Knowe Visitor Centre
Tel. 0 1434 251 000
Open: April-June and Sep, daily, 10am-5pm; July and Aug, 10am-6pm; Oct, 10am-4pm
Exhibition; shop; café; free entry; parking £3—good throughout the park

Leaplish Waterside Park
Tel. 0 1434 251 000
Open: Feb-end Oct, daily, 8am-6pm
Boat Inn Restaurant and Bar
Tel. 0 1434 250 400

Kielder Water Birds of Prey Centre
At Leaplish Waterside Park
Tel. 0 1434 250 400
Open: year round, daily, April-end Oct, 10.30am-5pm; Nov-end March, 10.30am-4pm
Web: Birds of Prey Centre

Kielder Castle Visitor Centre
Tel. 0 1434 250 209
Open: April-end Oct, daily, 10am-5pm
Snacks, shop; forest drive; bike centre

Kielder Observatory
Tel. 0 7805 638 469
Open: year round, daily
Web: Kielder Observatory
See events and book from the website

Kielder Salmon Centre
Tel. 0 1434 250 269
Open: April-end Sep, daily, 10am-4pm

Calvert Trust Kielder
Tel. 0 1434 250 232
Open: Feb-Nov, 9.30am-4.30pm
Pre-booking recommended
Accommodation open year round

Nearby Attractions:

Black Middens Bastle House: owned by English Heritage; open site; north of minor road north-west of Bellingham or along minor road from A68

Otterburn Mill: Former mill shop now a coffee shop and shop with outdoor clothing and well known wool pram covers, once given to the royal family.
On the A68 at junction of the B6320 heading west from the lake; opening times not given on web

Bellingham Heritage Centre Museum
Bellingham village
Tel. 0 1434 220 050
Open: Easter-mid Oct, Thu-Mon, 10.30am-4.30pm; every day in Aug
History of Bellingham and area exhibition

Northumberland National Park
See details on our website at Northumberland National Park

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Some of our Northumberland Articles
Northumberland’s Castle Trail
Warkworth Castle
Chillingham Castle
Northumberland National Park
Alnwick Garden
Kielder Water Forest Park
Bird of Prey Centre at Kielder
Alnwick Castle
Howick Hall Gardens
Belsay Hall, Castle and Gardens
Preston Tower Cherryburn
Etal Castle
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