A Day Out To Kielder Water & Forest Park
Location & Travel
About 30 miles due west from Beacon Hill (as the crow flies) lies Kielder Water & Forest Park . It’s more like 40 miles by car and will take a little over an hour to make the journey but it’s well worth it and we’d highly recommend a day out to Kielder if you’re staying with us for any length of time. The journey itself is very picturesque as you travel through some of Northumberland’s unspoilt countryside and pass through many quaint villages where you’re sure to find a stop-off point for a coffee should you wish.
In fact, Otterburn Mill is en-route and offers the perfect place for a coffee or snack as well as some retail therapy with a large shop selling premium outdoor clothing from well-known brands.
Kielder itself has a range of activities and caters for all ages but is especially good for families. Kielder reservoir is a large man-made reservoir, in fact the largest artificial lake in the United Kingdom in terms of volume of water. The surrounding forest creates a truly stunning environment and it is rich with flora and fauna so perfect for wildlife enthusiasts.
Kielder Waterside is a popular spot to spend some time and has a wildlife garden open all year round where you might be able to find adders, stoats, amphibians and butterflies depending on the time of year. It is also home to the Bird of Prey centre, a real draw for children especially as they can get close up to eagles, falcons, hawks and even a couple of huge pelicans! There are flying demonstrations at certain times of the day.
You may simply want to get out in the fresh air and go for a walk or hike and with 27 miles of shoreline to explore you’ve got plenty of options. Again Kielder Waterside would be a good starting point for any walking but you could also base yourself at Tower Knowe where there is a visitor Centre and from here you can catch the Osprey Ferry to other points around the reservoir.
Sailing at Kielder (c)Kielder Water & Forest ParkIf you’re a fan of watersports or would like to try something new for a challenge then there are activities such as sailing, windsurfing, fishing and even waterskiing although these activities would obviously be seasonal and would have to be pre-booked.
One activity that Kielder has become famous for and which requires no pre-booking is cycling. If it’s a leisurely ride you’re interested in then a loop of the reservoir offers a great long ride or simply parts of it would be great for less experienced or younger cyclists who might only want to take on a few miles. The Lakeside Way follows the shoreline for 27 miles and is a multi-use off-road route perfect for cycling. Stop for a picnic along the way, enjoy the local wildlife and take in the views from different parts of the shoreline.
More experienced riders and the real mountain bike ‘off-roaders’ will love the choices of tracks and trails that Kielder has to offer. We are told (by guests who are far more informed than our good selves) that this is pure MTB heaven and has some of the best singletrack trails on offer in the country. As with most trail centres the trails are graded so that you can choose the most appropriate for you or your group. With a choice of demanding red trails and even a severe black trail suitable for only expert mountain bikers, there are plenty of thrills and hopefully not too many spills to be had for the most skilled and adventurous cyclists.
The Observatory (c)Kielder Water & Forest ParkOne of our favourite attractions at Kielder is the hugely impressive Observatory allowing year-round stargazing opportunities. As you may know already we have invested in our own small but perfectly formed observatory at Beacon Hill but the world class facility at Kielder takes things to a whole new level. Our last visit was on a snowy night during the winter months and we had an extra special treat of being taken from the car park up to the observatory in a specialised 4×4 vehicle due to the snowy conditions.
Despite the freezing outside temperatures, inside the observatory was cosy with a real log burning fire and we were treated to a 30 minute slideshow tour of the solar system by an expert astronomer followed by plenty of time with each of the impressive telescopes. The observatory is only open when these special visitor events are being run therefore pre-booking is essential. The public can however, wander up to and around the observatory during the daytime and you will be treated to an excellent view of the surrounding area from its elevated position on Black Fell.
You won’t have problems finding places to eat and drink around the reservoir with café’s and restaurants at Kielder Waterside, Tower Knowe Visitor Centre and Kielder Castle itself. Do check opening times though because these will vary seasonally.