Tag: kielder

Perfect Picnics

Nothing says ‘holiday’ more than heading out into the great outdoors with a picnic, so whether you simply throw some crusty bread and cheese in your backpack or you carefully prepare a gourmet basket of goodies, you will find plenty of perfect picnic spots in Northumberland.

National Trust and English Heritage sites are always a great choice for an al fresco lunch with benches, picnic tables and grassy areas aplenty. At Wallington Hall throw down your picnic blanket in the grassy courtyard or saunter off along one of the many walks to find some dappled shade or sit and enjoy the peace and tranquility within the walled garden. A trip to Cragside offers a huge area in which to enjoy your perfect picnic with perhaps some of the best spots being as you navigate The Carriage Drive with lots of lakeside dining areas to choose from and some hidden in the beautiful woodland of the Cragside Estate.

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Nelly’s Moss – Cragside

A visit to our Northumbrian Market Towns are a great day trip and a picnic can make for a relaxing lunchtime pitstop. Hexham boasts the beautiful Abbey grounds which includes the pretty bowling green surrounded by seating where you can enjoy an outdoor lunch and if you’re lucky you may even be able to enjoy all the sights and sounds of an outdoor bowls match. Carlisle Park in Morpeth is another great destination for a a picnic lunch and this lovely market town also offers the opportunity to stroll along the banks of the River Wansbeck or even row, row, row your boat up the river.

As far as scenic picnic spots go there can be few better than the dramatic landscape of Hadrian’s Wall, so throw a picnic together and venture out to enjoy some of the wonderful walks this area provides, although with so many wonderful vistas to admire it can be hard to choose. A short 20 minute drive takes you to the very impressive Cawfields which is one of the best preserved stretches of the Wall and provides the opportunity enjoy your packed lunch by the lake or at the sheltered picnic site before burning off some of those calories and taking the scenic walk to Milecastle 42.

Kielder Water & Forest Park covers an area of hundreds of square miles so finding a secluded but picturesque place to picnic is easy. With large grassed areas, picnic tables dotted all over, designated picnic areas and miles and miles of wide open space Kielder is the perfect place to escape and just enjoy the quiet and the vastness of this remote part of Northumberland. The Visit Kielder website is packed full of information on everything that can be enjoyed at Kielder.

Fancy a picnic and a paddle? Well just pick a beach, any beach on the North East coast. All of our Northumberland beaches are heavenly, the whole of our coastline offers wide, sweeping beaches of golden sands that boast to be some of the quietest in the country, there are hidden coves, huge sea views together with pathways, rockpools and dunes, all perfect for a romantic picnic for two. Although I’m afraid we can’t guarantee you won’t get sand in your sandwiches!

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Bamburgh Beach

The beauty of a picnic means you can enjoy one anytime anywhere and you certainly don’t have to travel far to enjoy some open air dining when you stay at St Oswald’s Farm. We invite you to use our farm map and take a walk around our farmland and head to ‘our favourite spot’ on the farm. Brady’s Crag or The Bottom Crag as we call it, is the most perfect place to admire one of the best views from St Oswald’s and it’s a great place to enjoy an evening walk and witness our huge skies and spectacular Northumbrian sunsets. We provide a rug and a backpack in the cottage so all you need to do is chill a bottle of something lovely, grab some glasses and some tasty bites and take the 10 minute walk. We hope you are able to sit back and enjoy what we truly love about where we live.

A Haven for Wildlife

If you’re wild about wildlife then Northumberland is most definitely the place to be. Our diverse countryside of rolling hills, dales, moorlands, woodlands, forests, rivers, lakes and our coastline are teaming with wildlife and any drive or walk through Northumberland will undoubtedly mean you can easily spot some of our slightly wilder residents.

Our nature reserves are second to none, and each one with it’s own unique offering. Kielder Water & Forest Park provides a huge variety of habitats from marshy grasslands and bogs to woodland which attract an impressive amount of wildlife including badgers, roe deer, otters, red squirrels, shrews, pine martins, foxes, several species of bat, woodland birds and birds of prey, including ospreys. Of course the offering doesn’t stop at birds and animals, the insects, grasses and wildflowers come into their own at certain times of year, don’t be surprised to see the likes of yellow rattle, bird’s foot trefoil, and a variety of orchids. 

The Kielder Water website is packed full of information on all their ‘residents’, their ongoing projects, such as the ‘restoring ratty project’, their own Bakethin Nature Reserve and check out their nature calendar for what you’re most likely to spot during your visit.

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Roe Deer

In North Northumberland Hauxley Nature Reserve is right next to the beach and offers one of the best wildlife watching spots in the North East. The reserve is renowned for it’s bird life and regularly attracts 140 different species a year including tree sparrow, reed bunting and bull finch to coot, moorhen and curlew. The summer offers spectacular wild flowers including viper’s bugloss, bloody cranesbill and northern marsh orchid and of course where there’s flowers you will find variety of butterflies and the reserve attracts species such as the common blue and wall brown and you may see dragonflies and damselflies on the ponds, including the common hawker and the common darter. The reserve has a circular path leading to it’s wildlife hides and lots of information boards if you’re unsure what you might have spotted.

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Common Blue

If you’re visiting Holy Island, the Lindisfarne National Nature Reserve offers 3500 hectares of dunes, saltmarsh and mudflats and is home to a fascinating array of wildlife. The Reserve can be enjoyed all year round with Winter being the best time to see the visiting waterfowl, Autumn and Spring are the best for spotting rare birds on migration and with Summer best for the stunning flowers, butterflies and insects.

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Ringed Plover

We couldn’t talk about nature in Northumberland without mentioning The Farne Islands. For any bird and wildlife enthusiast a boat trip to The Farne Islands is simply a must. The Farne Islands are home to 100,000 seabirds ranging from Eider Ducks to Artic Terns to Puffins and then if that wasn’t enough there’s the thousands of grey seals. Each Autumn hundreds of seal pups are born there and rangers are on constant ‘pup watch’ as the keep an eye on the numbers born each year! The National Trust wildlife calendar is really useful to check the best times of year to enjoy your favourite.

If you prefer something smaller that can be found while exploring the open countryside there are plenty of small reserves dotted all over Northumberland. Druridge Pools, Cresswell Pond, East Chevington, Falstone Moss, Whitelee Moor, Butterburn Flow, Greenlea Lough, Grindon Lough, Beltingham River Gravels… to name but a few. If you’re looking to pack a flask and sandwich and head on a quiet wildlife hunt then there’s lots of information on where to go and how to access them on the Northumberland Wildlife Trust website.

Even a relaxing day spent enjoying St Oswald’s Farm can bring some wonderful wild finds, heron, curlew, woodpecker, buzzards, lapwing, a huge array of garden birds and if you’re lucky you may spot a barn owl. We encourage and protect our environment however we can and in the Spring it is heartwarming to see our birdboxes being put to good use. A quick peek out of the bedroom window in Heavenfield Cottage might just bring a glimpse of a busy little wren. This year we’re hoping to create a new stumpery and look forward to seeing who’s going to join us and makes St Oswald’s their home.

Simply Kielder

Kielder could be described as a very small and remote village, it could just be called the home of Kielder Water & Forest or be best known for it’s impressive star studded skies with observatory and International Dark Sky Park status. However, it is also so much more than all of that and there is a wealth of beauty to enjoy and a plenty supply of hidden gems to discover.

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Tranquil Kielder Water (image Kielder Waterside Park)

At over 250sq miles Kielder Forest is the largest man made working forest in England with Kielder Water the largest man made lake in Europe and with them you will find nature, wildlife and natural beauty on a scale you may not have witnessed before. If you wish to seek out the vastness and expanse of this dynamic scenery for yourself there are many ways to enjoy this beautiful part of Northumberland. Take the expansive forest drive or breathe in the clean and fresh Northumbrian air on one of the many walks, you may even opt to bike or walk the 26 mile Lakeside Way! Pay a visit to the nature garden or take advantage of one of the nature hubs with up to date information throughout the year as the forest and it’s inhabitants change through the course of the seasons.

If you want to be prepared and enjoy a guided walk then download the ‘Kielder Water & Forest Park Wild Walks’ app and take your virtual tour guide with you on your own discovery day of this beautiful piece of Northumberland. The ‘guide’ together with view points ensure you know what to look out for and where.

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Kielder Water (image Kielder Waterside Park)

A great place to start any visit is the visitor centre at Tower Knowe, it is ideal for planning your day and for choosing what to see and where to go. Both the visitor centre at Tower Knowe and the visitor centre at Kielder Castle offer refreshments too.

A day out here holds lots of surprises and over the past 25 years it has become home to a unique collection of art, sculptures and architecture. Kielder Belvedere, Skyspace, Wave Chamber, Freya’s Cabin, Janus Chairs, Silvas Capitalis or the newest installation, The Nick. You never know what you might just discover on your travels!

Adventure seekers need look no further than this vast offering. The options to get out and get active are second to none, with cycling, mountain biking, canoeing, sailing, water skiing, snorkeling, fencing, archery, horse riding and even activities such as high ropes and zip wire, there is something there for all adrenaline junkies.

So whether you want to quietly enjoy the surrounding nature by taking a leisurely drive or a relaxed trip on the Osprey Ferry across the water to take in the views, or maybe you would just love to catch a glimpse of an Osprey or learn about Water Voles and the ‘Saving Ratty’ project or you want to delve into the vast forest park and see the architectural structures now firmly at home there, or you really want your day out to be about getting down to some serious activities, Kielder will not disappoint.

Kielder is without doubt beautiful but it is remote and we would always recommend checking the Visit Kielder website before you travel for up to date guidance on opening times, any restrictions and weather updates. The website is full of useful information and guides, and you will find some of these guides printed off for your use in the cottage. Please do note that when you visit Kielder a phone signal will not be easily found!

When you stay at St Oswald’s Farm Kielder is about an hour away with the drive there taking you through some of the most amazing and picturesque countryside. Book your next stay with us and be sure to put Kielder on your must do list.