National Countryside Week* takes place from Monday 30th July to Sunday 5th August 2018. Every year the campaign aims to raise awareness and celebrate the values of the British countryside. And we’re luckier than most in the North East as we literally have miles and miles of it!
Countless famous writers have praised the beauty, calm and restorative effects of the countryside on the human spirit.
And in this gloriously hot summer, even here in the cooler North East, where better to enjoy some peace than in our own idyllic surroundings?
The Heritage Lottery-funded Living Wild project at Kielder aims to bring Kielder Water & Forest Park’s amazing wildlife and countryside to life for visitors and residents, helping them enjoy, learn, share and immerse themselves in nature whilst also contributing to the long-term protection of the area’s special animals and plants.
So, take a little time way this summer, even for a day. Forget the household chores, the noise and stress of crowded shopping malls or theme parks and head to beautiful Kielder Water & Forest Park.
There are some wonderful countryside activities here that you won’t be able to experience anywhere else (many are free or very low cost) and we guarantee you’ll return refreshed and relaxed. Here are 10 to try!
1. Osprey Watch operates at Kielder Waterside on Saturdays, Sundays and Bank Holiday Mondays, 10.30am -17.00pm and on Wednesdays too during July and August. 2018 is the 10th successive year of Ospreys breeding in Kielder Forest. During that time, the population has grown from one to four breeding pairs.
In the Osprey Watch cabin you can view these fantastic birds and their chicks unobtrusively on their nests via powerful binoculars and webcams. Expert volunteers are on hand to give you the latest updates and information. It’s a fascinating project. You can find out more here http://www.visitkielder.com/play/discover/kielder-ospreys
2. Wildlife and Osprey Motor BoatCruises are a wonderful way to view the beautiful countryside and wildlife at Kielder. They run on Wednesday evenings and Sunday afternoons from July until mid-August. Whilst out on the water, knowledgeable guides will explain about the amazing British animals and birds who have made this place their home. An osprey or two may even fly above you! Price per person is £23 and booking is essential for these trips. For more information and to book, please visit http://www.visitkielder.com/wildlife-events/wildlife-osprey-motor-boat-cruise-hexham&ssid=747314
3. Red squirrels - Around 50% of England’s native red squirrel population live at Kielder, the largest remaining stronghold in the country. You can learn more about red squirrels in the exhibition at Kielder Castle, where there is also a squirrel hide overlooking native woodland. Another great place to catch a glimpse of one is at the red squirrel hide at Kielder Waterside. Find out more through the Red Squirrels Northern England project.
A red squirrel safari for age 6+ will be taking place at Kielder on 20 August at 10.00am – 11.30am at £5.00 per ticket. Booking is essential for this event. More information at http://www.visitkielder.com/wildlife-events/red-squirrel-safari-kielder
4. Fishing is often referred to as one of the most peaceful countryside occupations. With over 2,000 acres of water to explore at Kielder, you can try a different spot every time. The huge lake offers exhilarating fishing for both enthusiast and competition anglers alike with a fleet of 15 fully equipped motor boats. For more on fishing around the area and on permits, visit http://www.visitkielder.com/play/discover/fishing
5. The Creepy Crawlies Show takes place twice every Tuesday evening, at 5pm – 6.30 pm and from 7pm – 8.30 pm at Calvert Trust Kielder all through the summer holidays until 28 August. You can get up close and learn all about some of our wonderful, native creepy crawlies. If you feel brave enough you can even hold them! Booking is essential. Find out more at http://www.calvertkielderblog.org.uk/2018/07/the-creepy-crawlies-show-is-back.html
6. Bakethin Nature Reserve which includes car park, wildlife hide, lake and walks is open all day every day of the year and is free to visit. Here you can watch wildlife, birds and plants and enjoy beautiful nature walks through the trees. You can explore the mossy forest floor, spot water creatures from the pond platform, see strange, gnarled lichens clinging to the branches, and search for signs of squirrels amongst the pine trees.
Why not stroll through the treetops on your way to enjoy the views from the top of Kielder Viaduct? Or go geocaching here – free GPS treasure hunting – sign up at www.geocaching.com . For more information about Bakethin Nature Reserve visit http://www.visitkielder.com/visit/bakethin-nature-reserve
7. The Highway Rat trail will entertain little children for hours - and it’s free for all. Discover all the wonders of the forest as you head on a journey with The Highway Rat and all the characters from the story. Go in search of 10 Highway Rat-themed panels, each with fun facts and activities to try. As you go, look out for characters from the story, complete four rubbings and take your picture with the life-sized Highway Rat 'Wanted' poster! For all the downloads and full information please go to https://www.forestry.gov.uk/highwayrat
8. The lovely Lakeside Way multi-user track encircles Kielder Water's 27 mile shoreline and is almost 26 miles in total. It is suitable for walkers, cyclists, horse riders, mobility scooters and wheelchair users. It gives access to the most scenic parts of the lake shore and offers visitors to Kielder Water & Forest Park a lovely, unique experience in all weathers.
If you’re super-fit, you may wish to complete the whole 26 mile trail in one visit. If cycling, allow three to four hours. Walkers will need longer – eight to ten hours at least. Allow more time if you wish to take in the scenery or visit some of the contemporary art and architecture along the path. For those who wish to try half the distance, why not take the Osprey Ferry across the lake to a half way point? More information at http://www.visitkielder.com/sport-leisure/lakeside-way
9. Kielder Salmon Centre re-opens after a major refurbishment in mid-August. It’s close to Kielder Castle, is the largest conservation hatchery in England and Wales, and it’s where the Environment Agency grows fish to stock rivers and lakes in the north of England. Up to 900,000 salmon are successfully bred here each year.
When it reopens you will be able to drop into the hatchery's visitor centre (free entry) and discover the fascinating life cycle of the salmon. You will also see how the fresh water pearl mussel breeding beds help save one of the UK's most endangered species. More information at http://www.visitkielder.com/visit/kielder-salmon-centre
10. Ratty Ramble! Don’t miss the Northumberland Wildlife Trust’s Ratty Ramble at Kielder on 30 August this year from 10.00am – 12 noon! After meeting at Kielder Castle, you’ll be given an informal talk on the “Restoring Ratty” project and then taken out into the forest to look for signs of the recently released water voles. You may even see a live one! Numbers are limited so booking is essential. More information at http://www.visitkielder.com/wildlife-events/ratty-ramble . Tickets are £3.00 per person from http://www.nwt.org.uk/events/2018/08/30/ratty-ramble