There are excellent walks locally and throughout the area. Some of our personal
favourites nearby are described below, but for walks in Kielder Forest, the Bellingham
area and further afield we refer you to the internet, or leaflets available at the Heritage
Centre, Bellingham, or Tower Knowe Visitor Centre, Kielder.
There are public footpaths (both left and right) a few hundred yards away, at the
Hott Farm – right out of the gates and down the road). Please, on public footpaths,
always observe the country code, keeping dogs on a lead, and shutting gates
Please however be aware that we live next to a working farm, and these fields
cannot be walked on by visitors.
Public footpaths at the Hott Farm. Here you can turn left and walk over the pedestrian
‘swing’ bridge onto the North bank of the river, turn left again after bridge, and then go
through wooded area along riverbank to join the very countrified single-trace road up the
river to Donkleywood (or beyond). Or you can turn right and walk in the opposite
direction to medieval Dally Castle (English Heritage: free, unmanned, site) across the
fells. In this case turn in to cul de sac on right, go past farm and cottages, and you will
see the footpath onto the fells after the post box. If you prefer a combined drive/walk
when going to Dally Castle, turn right out of your drive, and right again at the Tyne
Bridge after re 1 mile, and then right again shortly afterwards, immediately before the
hump-backed bridge. You can then park anywhere along this road, and walk up this
country lane to Dally Castle along the Chirdon Burn. Forestry walks are all around you,
with some good views despite recent felling.
Alternatively, you can drive through Lanehead to Greenhaugh, and on to Sidwood,
where there are spectacular forestry walks, including one across the Tarset river to Black
Middens Bastle (English Heritage; free, unmanned site). ‘Bastles’ – medieval fortified
farms to protect against border Reiving (raiding) from Scotland (and vice versa!) – are
typical of this area.
The best and most famous local walk however is at Bellingham - Hareshaw Lynn. Turn
right in centre of village, and then immediately left along the burn to the Hareshaw Lynn
car park. Don’t be put off by the semi-industrial landscape – once through the gate and
up the hill you will experience one of the most superb walks in Northumberland, with a
waterfall as the climax of a winding, wooded path along the burn.
The Pennine Way, designated in 1965 as Britain’s first National Trail, passes through
Bellingham, and is today one of the most famous and popular walks in the country.
Nearest point to join it is by driving through Greenhaugh; turn right shortly after village for
High Green (spectacular scenery), then after the mansion on your left turn right onto the
fells, and you will see the Pennine Way footpath sign shortly afterwards.
Further afield, there are superb walks at Simonside, near Rothbury, and Lordenshaws;
both are of great interest to those keen on pre-history, with Stone, Bronze and Iron Age
For those interested in bird-watching, Kielder, as Britain’s largest forest, offers rich
opportunities. Among the many species living in the forest are goshawks and the
occasional osprey, and the forestry recommend Bakethin Raptor Point as the ideal spot
For families, the Bird of Prey Centre at Leaplish Waterside Park, Kielder, is excellent,
and the birds can be seen flying at certain times of day. We regularly see oyster
catchers, and wild duck of various kinds along the riverbank. Lapwings (peewits) and
curlews are on the fells above us, although less common than formerly, and our garden
birds at different times of year include robins, blue and great tits, swallow and house
martins, mistle and song thrushes, blackbirds, wood pigeons, pheasants, sparrows,
starlings and the occasional wren. We regularly hear tawny and barn owls at night, and
Greystead Institute has its own resident owls, which many visitors have seen at dusk
flying over the garden (if you hear scuffling overhead, it is the owls moving around in
their specially designed owl loft!) We also often have hedgehogs; they are enchanting,
but please do not disturb them or pick them up!
A full-colour guide to The Birds of Kielder, available at Kielder shops, is the best source
for bird watchers.
We are fortunate to be one of the last places in Britain where red squirrels survive, and
have had our very own red squirrel in residence here recently, although we have also
sadly have grey squirrels from time to time, which unfortunately pass on a pox fatal to
the reds. There are now quite a number of otters and water voles in the forest, the
Forestry Commission having encouraged their return with a variety of measures over the
last few years.
There are wildlife and conservation exhibitions at Kielder Castle and Tower Knowe.
So much information is available on facilities at Kielder that, as well as checking online, if
you are looking for an outdoor holiday, you may prefer to head up to the Visitor
Information Centre at Tower Knowe, Kielder to obtain further details of what is available.
Leaplish Waterside Park and Kielder Castle Visitor Centre between them cater for all
ages and tastes; there are picnic sites, a heated swimming pool, water-sports, ferry
rides, children’s adventure playgrounds, walking and cycling trails, miniature golf, Birds
of Prey Centre, artworks, restaurants/tearooms/bars and souvenir shops and much
more. All buildings are accessible to wheelchair users.