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.
NWT is currently working with partner organisations to review and significantly improve visitor facilities including access, viewing points and information at the reserve during 2017. We will provide updates as the work progresses.