- The north-east gem Kielder Water and Forest Park is in Northumberland and is the home of wildlife.
- See a varied amount of wildlife that goes throughout the forest, from red squirrels to mussels.
- Stay late at night to see the stunning stars, with something to see all year, from galaxies to the Milky Way.
- Have a camping trip near Kielder Water, or stay in a hotel with stunning views of Kielder Forest.
Kielder Water and Forest Park is an adventurous day out in Northumberland inside Kielder Forest, and near to Kielder Reservoir. It surrounds Kielder Village, so it's easy to get back to the village. It's England's largest man-made woodland; three-quarters of the 250 square miles of the forest is covered in trees. The Kielder Reservoir is also a man-made lake. It's home to a large amount of wildlife, as well as Kielder Observatory. You can even join in with some Kielder Forest camping at one of the great Kielder campsites. Kielder Water and Forest Park is an amazing experience; if you want to visit England, it's a quintessentially British place to visit. If you want more wildlife, Northumberland Zoo has plenty of animals on show. For more incredible historic places in England, you might like Vindolanda.
The first plantings of the forest began in the 1920s, and the project was used as a way to get people into work. They were hutted in camps which are now under Kielder Water. It's gone from a single-objective plantation to a multi-purpose forest. Its largely made up of conifers, as well as Norway spruce and lodgepole pine, and then broadleaves, Scots pine, larch and Douglas-fir. There are several SSSI's within the forest, and projects to protect the forest like the restoration of Border mires. Inside of the forest, as well as the Kielder Observatory, you can also find Kielder Castle, Skyspace, and the Kielder Marathon.
If you want to go wild in Kielder Water and Forest Park, there's plenty to see. Animals and plants live throughout the forest to see. You can find nature hubs inside Kielder Water and Forest Park, at Tower Knowe, Bakethin Nature Reserve and Kielder Castle. Tower Knowe is close to Kielder dam so introduces guests to the whole park, and what animals to look out for. It's also a great place to pick up things like outdoor gear and fishing supplies if you've left anything at home. Wildlife changes throughout the year. Kielder Forest is home to 50% of England's Red Squirrel population, who are at threat from the Grey Squirrels. The Kielder Ospreys have seven nests that they currently breed in within Kielder Forest. In 2019, 10 ospreys were able to fledge from nests, which is very important to their species. If you want to see more birds, the Birds of Prey Centre has eagles, owls, falcons, hawks and vultures, as well as a family of wallabies. It's one of the largest collections in the North. You can also discover the water voles at Kielder, who are now being reintroduced after minks almost wiped them out in the 1970s. Over 1400 water voles have been reintroduced into Kielder Water & Forest Park. You can find them at Ratty retreat Hide on the Forest Drive. The Bakethin Nature Reserve has an accessible hide to let you see the wildlife. You can also go up into the trees, go geocaching, see bug hotels, and lots of other nature activities.
Explore more of Kielder Water and Forest Park during your visit at the Kielder Observatory. All year-round, the observatory is the home of star-gazing. Because the light pollution is so minimal at Kielder Forest, it's easy to see the beautiful stars, especially during winter nights if you're looking for galaxies in the north of England. If you want to see the Milky Way, enjoy the observatory in summer. You can even use the telescopes. The Observatory is for teaching, learning and research. You can also see the Dark Skies film, created by Cain Scrimgeour. This is about the dark sky zone that's above Kielder Forest. You can also visit Kielder Castle Visitor Centre, which was formerly a hunting lodge. Explore exhibitions, do some mountain biking and go through the minotaur maze. There's also a café at Kielder Castle to visit, so you can get tasty food and drink during the year. The Kielder Forest Drive is a 12-mile drive from Kielder Castle to Blakehopeburnhaugh on the A68 in the east. It's one of the highest roads, 1500 feet high at Blakehope Nick, where you can see stunning views of Northumberland. While there is a toll, it's well worth it to see the beauty
Walking past Kielder Water, you'll get views of the beautiful man-made reservoir. You also might spot the hydroelectric plant on your visit, England's largest and giving the north of England a constant and plentiful water supply, even during summer. You can also discover the Kielder Salmon Centre. It's the largest conservation Salmon hatchery in England and Wales. The Centre also rears Freshwater pearl mussels, one of the UK's most endangered species, which you can see. Kielder Art and Architecture follows along the Kielder waterside, with sculptures to discover across the route made by local artists. You can also try the Osprey ferry, which is a great way to see Kielder Water. It encircles the full circumference of the Kielder Water. Inside Kielder Forest, The Sky Den is a treehouse up in the sky, with pods and furniture to look over the forest.
Want to eat nearby? The Boat Inn has British pub food and is right next to Kielder Water. Pheasant Inn Restaurant is more of a classic pub in the interior, with stunning stone walls and tasty food. Anglers Arms has lots of vegan options near to Kielder Water and Forest Park. The Black Cock Inn is friendly and welcoming for families, with a cottage-like exterior. Falstone Old School has a classroom interior which is great for tea and cake. The Boe Rigg Restaurant serves food from around the world. There's also delicious cafes and dessert parlours around Kielder Forest to enjoy.
If you want to stay near Kielder Water and Forest Park, there's lodges, camping, cottages and more. For lodges, there's the Kielder Waterside Lodges, the Calvert Kielder Lodges and more including the Landal Kielder Lodges near the Kielder waterside. They're sweet and cosy and in a stunning location. Camping and caravanning are great for having a place to relax that's close to the forest. For catered options at Kielder Water and Forest Park, there's the great BnB's and hotels nearby.
What to know before you go
- Kielder Water and Forest Park is always open and can be accessed at any time.
- The water and forest park is dog-friendly.
- The path around Kielder Reservoir is 26 miles of wide, disability accessible paths, and can also be used by buggies.
- Some of the sculptures on the trail aren't accessible. Some of the hills are fairly steep.
- All toilets are accessible.
- To get to Kielder Water and Forest Park from the nearby villages of Bellingham and Newcastleton follow signs to Kielder Water and Forest Park which will take you onto the C200 which has lots of points to access the park.
- Car parking at Kielder Water & Forest Park costs £5 for the day.
- The nearest stations are Whetstone Bridge Road, a four minute walk; Police Station, a four minute walk; and Allendale Road a five minute walk.
- The nearest bus stops are the 685, 74 and X85.