Culture Vulture

Culture Vulture


Day one
A great starting point is Kielder Skyspace. Situated high on a hill overlooking Kielder village, Cat Cairn, where Skyspace can found, provides fantastic views out over the landscape, the top end of Kielder Water and the edge of the Scottish border.

Kielder Skyspace is a sculptural artwork located on a rocky outcrop overlooking Kielder Water & Forest Park by internationally renowned American artist James Turrell. The artwork consists of a short tunnel that leads to a partially buried circular room, a ceiling containing a central circular oculus or opening, and a ring of seats forming the lower part of the inner wall.

A little further up the forest road is the award winning Kielder Observatory, looking a bit like a wooden ship sailing above the rugged fellside. This is a place where you can enjoy a nightwatch or astronomy talk by experienced astronomers as part of a programme of public events throughout the year.

The nearest public parking is at the car park sited just off the C200 at the bottom of the forest road signposted to the Skyspace, and beyond to the Observatory. Walking to the Skyspace takes around 45 minutes, by bicycle, approximately 20 minutes depending on ability. The return downhill trip is considerably quicker by bicycle. Visitors should note that the Skyspace is approximately 360 feet/110m higher than the bottom car park and while the route is not a difficult walk, the additional elevation makes the site more exposed, and it is often colder and windier up on the hill.

 Visitors wishing to drive up to the sculpture will need to get a key to pass through the forestry barrier beyond the lower car park. Keys are available from Kielder visitor centres, the local shop, the Anglers Arms in Kielder village and from the Calvert Trust activity centre.

 Skyspace can also be accessed by following the Lonesome Pine red grade mountain bike trail. For comprehensive listing of cycle trails within Kielder Water & Forest Park, go to things-to-do/cycling and for the single track trails things-to-do/mountain-biking.

 On the south shore of the Lakeside Way you will pass Bakethin nature reserve and John Maine’s Kielder Column on the way to Leaplish Waterside Park. Along the way discover the Mirage deck, where the Mirage art installation used to hang in the trees - the perfect place to have a picnic lunch amongst some of the oldest trees in the forest.

Leaplish Waterside Park is home to three sculptures; Shadow was amongst the earliest works created at Kielder; and Mapping minigolf and Play Garden which form part of the centre’s activities and are more recent. Mapping takes features and names from old and new maps of the Kielder valley to create a multi-layered and brightly coloured minigolf course. Play Garden is a children’s playground but also an imaginary environment inhabited by ‘forest follies’ that invites users to consider the many and varied elements that make up the complex landscape of Kielder Water & Forest Park.

Beyond Leaplish Waterside Park you will quickly arrive at Freya’s Cabin, a gold clad house balanced on stilts. Home to a character in a fairy story written by designers Studio Weave, Freya’s Cabin is intricately carved inside and offers shelter and views out over the lake towards Robin’s Hut which can be seen directly opposite on Kielder Water’s remote north shore.
If you still have time to spare, pick up a Keepsake pack from reception at Leaplish Waterside Park and complete the brass rubbing trail on Bull Crag peninsula beyond Freya’s Cabin. This enchanting artwork provides you with all the tools you need to track down twelve rubbing plaques featuring scenes created by artist Nicola Moss and create your own Kielder Keepsake.

Day two

Starting on top of Deadwater Fell, at 1900’ the highest point around, take in the huge views up into Scotland and across the breadth of Kielder Water & Forest Park to the south from Specere, architect David Adjaye’s mountain bikers’ shelter. Descend to Kielder village to get lost in the Minotaur maze, designed by architect Nick Coombe and artist Shona Kitchen. Why not stop for lunch at the Duke’s Pantry? Head on the Lakeside Way past Gowanburn farmhouse to Silvas Capitalis, a giant wooden head created by American artists SIMPARCH and a mile further on rest at the Janus Chairs – three Goldilocks style rotating seats designed by Ryder Architecture, that can be orientated in an infinite number of positions depending on the visitor’s desires. Another couple of miles will take you to Robin’s Hut, paired with Freya’s Cabin (see above), and shortly after you will arrive at the Belvedere, Kielder’s first architectural commission and winner of many prestigious accolades.

From April to October the Osprey ferry will pick up visitors wanting to return to Leaplish or Tower Knowe visitor centres from the Belvedere jetty next to the shelter.
If you’re ready to complete the north shore walk, continue on to Cock Stoor, the isolated stand of Scot’s Pine trees at the water’s edge to the east. Here you will find 55/02, a bright orange shelter designed by sixteen*(makers), featuring a cluster of unusual places to sit and enjoy different views of the main lake and the more intimate Belling inlet. 55/02 refers to the latitude and longitude of the site and relates to the idea that the complex design of this shelter developed out of a study of this exact spot, and that its form would have been different had it been conceived for anywhere else.

From Cock Stoor the path leads deep into the Belling inlet and then back out to the Belling, a promontory only just joined to the shore by a narrow neck of land. A waymarked spur path will take you to the Wave Chamber, a camera obscura created by artist Chris Drury in the form of a stone beehive shaped hut. Inside on sunny days, an image of the waves on the lake is projected onto the floor in the darkness of the circular chamber.

The final part of the walk passes through Hawkhope car park and leaving the main Lakeside Way, proceeds to Falstone below the dam. Along the village riverside walk you can discover Stell, a sculpture by Colin Wilbourn in the shape of a traditional Northumbrian sheepfold. When you get close enough, it transforms into a small ‘room’ flanked by two carved stone sofas to sit on and rest your weary feet.

Note: there is a considerable distance between artworks. Visitors that wish to walk this route should first download the Trails Guide from the website to ensure they know how long it will take to get to each sculpture and how to plan their return journey. For advice, call 01434 220 616.

Places and distances

Inside Skyspace
NE48 1ER

Sorry for any inconvenience the Skyspace will be closed due to works being carried out from

               the 14th - 18th May, it will reopen for the weekend and close again from

                                           the period of the 21st - 25th May

Created by internationally acclaimed American artist James Turrell, the Kielder Skyspace is a sculptural artwork at the Cat Cairn viewpoint where the artist manipulates our normal perceptions of light and space.


Approx 0 mile(s) between Cat Cairn: the Kielder Skyspace - James Turrell 2000 and Cat Cairn: the Kielder Skyspace - James Turrell 2000
Inside Skyspace
NE48 1ER

Sorry for any inconvenience the Skyspace will be closed due to works being carried out from

               the 14th - 18th May, it will reopen for the weekend and close again from

                                           the period of the 21st - 25th May

Created by internationally acclaimed American artist James Turrell, the Kielder Skyspace is a sculptural artwork at the Cat Cairn viewpoint where the artist manipulates our normal perceptions of light and space.


Approx 2.07 mile(s) between Cat Cairn: the Kielder Skyspace - James Turrell 2000 and Kielder Column - John Maine 1999
Kielder Column
NE48 1ER
This sculpture is a stock of pink sandstone blocks arranged in courses around a core. The surfaces have been closely worked by hand to create the sense of an ascending spiral throughout the column.
Approx 0.37 mile(s) between Kielder Column - John Maine 1999 and Mirage - Kisa Kawakami 2006
Reflections and decking
NE48 1BQ
500 pairs of shiny disks hang high in the trees in a 3-dimensional cloud, reflecting light from beyond the forest. Underneath the sculpture, a series of interlacking terraced decks create a resting place for visitors.
Approx 2.17 mile(s) between Mirage - Kisa Kawakami 2006 and Shadow - Julia Barton 1995
Shadow by Julia Barton
NE48 1BT
Visitors can walk between the parts of Shadow to experience the many textures that echo those found on the nearby beech trees. Shadow is inspired by and celebrates the ancient trees along the Beeches Walk.
Approx 0.29 mile(s) between Shadow - Julia Barton 1995 and Mapping mini golf
Mapping minigolf at Kielder
NE48 1BT
Mapping is a minigolf course derived from old and new maps of Kielder. Mapping uses bright finishes and colours and is a fully accessible, highly visual and entertaining 'must-play' experience.
Approx 0.12 mile(s) between Mapping mini golf and Play Garden - Zone Architects 2006
Play garden in Kielder
NE48 1BT
Play Garden is an unusual playscape featuring a walled garden for smaller children, with forest follies in the wilder area for the older participants.
Approx 0.53 mile(s) between Play Garden - Zone Architects 2006 and Freya’s Cabin - Studio Weave 2009
Side of Freyas Cabin in Kielder
NE48 1BT
Freya’s Cabin is one of a pair of small buildings located on opposite sides of the Kielder Water along the Lakeside Way. The two buildings, Robin’s Hut and Freya’s Cabin, are linked by the story of Freya & Robin
Approx 7.08 mile(s) between Freya’s Cabin - Studio Weave 2009 and Specere - Adjaye Associates 2009
NE48 1ER
Specere is a timber shelter designed by acclaimed architect David Adjaye which looks out over the extent of Kielder Water & Forest Park, providing mountain bikers and other visitors with fantastic views and protection from extreme weather conditions.
Approx 2.63 mile(s) between Specere - Adjaye Associates 2009 and Minotaur - Nick Coombe and Shona Kitchen 2003
Minotaur Maze at Kielder Water
NE48 1ER
The Minotaur Maze is a must for children and adults alike. The adventurous will discover a number of special features that include a small glittering room formed from rocks of recycled glass.

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