The 140 hectare Bakethin reserve was created when Kielder dam was constructed in 1979. Wrapped around the northern edges of Kielder Water, it offers a diverse range of habitats, including open water, wetland, woodland and grassland, and provides a haven for diverse wildlife.

Wildfowl are best viewed during the winter months. Visitors include pochard, tufted duck, goldeneye, goosander, mallard and teal. Early and late in the year there are sightings of whooper swans and barnacle geese en route to or from the Arctic. In the late winter, crossbill can often be seen and heard singing in the treetops as they begin courtship. In spring, the reserve can give views of osprey, merlin and goshawk during their courtship, with the viaduct offering an excellent vantage point. If you’re lucky, you may also spot an otter hunting along the edges of the lake. The shallow water margins also offer valuable spawning grounds for the common frog and palmate newt and there is a healthy fish population including trout, minnow, eels and stone loach. Adder and common lizard are regularly recorded and the two ponds near the viaduct also provide excellent habitat for amphibians and dragonflies.

Exmoor ponies and hardy sheep graze the site, helping to maintain the diversity of the wet grasslands and flushes. The woodlands are being sensitively managed to encourage new native woodland extension beyond the reservoir shores. The three ponds are also regularly maintained to retain open water areas.

Visiting the reserve

From the main car park, there are a variety of easy access paths on mainly wide well-surfaced tracks. One route heads along the south shore to the bird hide overlooking Kielder Water. Another route heads up on to an old railway line and historic viaduct across the reservoir, giving great views of woodland and lake, with a chance to spot fishing otters or ospreys. Once across the viaduct on the north shore, a narrower grass track leads through the reserve, along a mainly level path but with some muddy stretches.

The Lakeside Way multi-user track runs through the reserve and therefore reaching us on bikes could not be easier from Leaplish Waterside Park, the Tower Knowe Visitor Centre or Kielder Castle.

Click here for a recommended walking route.

A new wildlife viewing hide, situated about ½ a mile along the Lakeside Way on the South Shore, was officially opened in July 2017. The hide, designed and built by students from Newcastle University, offers a wonderful opportunity to view the reserve’s wildlife from a unique and attractive waterside viewpoint with dual vantage points across the water and into the forest. The design draws on themes from the exiting architecture and artwork around Kielder including the darkened, charcoal colour of the building’s façade. The project, which has taken a number of months to complete, makes a fantastic addition to the reserve and is testament to the ongoing strong partnership investment from Heritage Lottery Fund, Kielder Water and Forest Park, Newcastle University, Northumberland Wildlife Trust, Northumbrian Water, Arts Council England, Forestry Commission, Environment Agency and Northumberland National Park.


Please note: The Bakethin Hide will be closed for essential roof maintenance until further notice. Please check our social media pages for updates on when the hide will reopen.



Nearby nature reserves

Falstone Moss
6 miles - Northumberland Wildlife Trust
Whitelee Moor
9 miles - Northumberland Wildlife Trust
Butterburn Flow
10 miles - Northumberland Wildlife Trust

Nature reserve map

Reserve information

Bakethin lies upstream of Kielder reservoir
Butteryhaugh Bridge
Map reference
NY 631 927
Get directions
Find out here
Public transport
Plan your journey
Opening Times

Please see downloadable Access Information for the reserve below.
Walking information
Footpaths on the old railway and as part of the Lakeside way. Access to one hide.
Park in the Viaduct car park near Butteryhaugh Bridge (small car park near to bird hide available for persons with limited mobility).
Dogs must be on lead
Grazing animals
Reserve manager
Northumberland Wildlife Trust
Tel: (0191) 284 6884


Factsheets and guides for your visit