Know before you go
Parking informationPark in the Welcome Point car park, sign posted off the main road (C200) near Butteryhaugh Bridge.
Grazing animalsExmoor ponies and hardy sheep graze some parts of the site, helping to maintain the diversity of the wet grasslands and flushes.
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. Other routes lead via the historic viaduct across the reservoir, giving great views of the woodland and lake, with a chance to spot fishing otters or ospreys. The Lakeside Way multi-user track runs through the reserve and therefore reaching us on bikes could not be easier from Kielder Waterside, the Tower Knowe Visitor Centre or Kielder Castle. Click here for a recommended walking route.
Paths are wide and well surfaced however, there are some steep slopes either side of the viaduct. Bakethin Hide is fully accessible with a short ramp to the more elevated Lake View.
When to visit
Best time to visitAll year round
About the reserve
The reserve, created when Kielder dam was constructed in 1979, wraps around the northern edges of Kielder Water and includes open water, wetland, woodland and grassland habitats.
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 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 shoreline. 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 three ponds provide excellent habitat for amphibians and dragonflies.
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. There is a dipping platform at the pond near the viaduct and the Capon Pond on the Lakeside Way has a small boardwalk/viewing area.
A new, accessible wildlife viewing hide, situated about ½ a mile along the Lakeside Way on the South Shore, was officially opened in July 2017. Bakethin 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 existing architecture and artwork around Kielder including the darkened, charcoal colour of the building’s façade. The project is a fantastic addition to the reserve and is testament to the ongoing strong partnership investment from Heritage Lottery Fund, Kielder Water & Forest Park Development Trust, Newcastle University, Northumberland Wildlife Trust, Northumbrian Water, Arts Council England, Forestry Commission, Environment Agency and Northumberland National Park. A wildlife themed bench, created by prize-winning chainsaw carver Tommy Craggs, was created during 2017 and can be found on the Lakeside Way near Bakethin Hide.
A new, family friendly, clearing has been created nearby to encourage visitors to explore the reserve further. What can you find?