This Easter, we took a long weekend break with English Country Cottages to visit Kielder Water and Forest Park in Northumberland. We stayed at the gorgeous Falstone Barns – you can read our review here if you’re looking for 5-star accommodation in Northumberland 🙂
Now, I’ll start out by saying the weather? Was not perfect. Not even close.
But still, there are plenty of things to do for families in Kielder, even if it rains! Check out our highlights video, and read on to find tips on things to do with kids in Kielder whatever the weather!
Explore the Dark Skies
One of the coolest things about Kielder is that the skies here are the darkest of any skies in England. So that means you get absolutely spectacular star-gazing here.
If you can, then book into an organised event at Kielder Observatory – these happen at night throughout the year with dedicated family events. If you can’t get to the observatory, then there are other dedicated star-gazing spots throughout Kielder, and on many of these you’ll find charts to help you navigate the stars.
Kielder is home to some of the UK’s best biking trails, with amazing views and trails to suit all abilities. There are over 125km of trails in the park, from blue to black grade.
We hadn’t brought our own bikes but we rented mountain bikes for the afternoon from The Bike Place at Kielder Castle – the guy at the shop was super helpful in pointing out kid-friendly trails and ensuring we both had the right bikes and kit for our afternoon exploring.
Obviously, we still managed to get lost and completely lose the trail, but we had great fun and at £40 for two bikes with helmets, I thought it was great value for money. If you need to, the shop can also provide snacks, outdoor clothing, and all manner of cycling kit.
Clay Pigeon Shooting
One of our favourite activity centres around Kielder was The Calvert Trust, which exists to help people with a range of disabilities to access outdoor activities.
On certain dates through the year the centre runs drop-in sessions where you can go along and, for a small fee, try a new activity. On the day of our visit, we had the opportunity to drop in for some shooting and archery.
The shooting was great fun – laser-based electronic shooting means you hold a rifle, the leader releases the ‘clay pigeon’ and you fire – but rather than live ammo your gun uses a laser, and a large screen displays which guns have hit the target. It gets very competitive, and the centre has special supports and loops so that even young kids can take part.
From the shooting range, we took a short walk across the Calvert Trust grounds to the archery fields where a fab instructor called Mark coaxed me into picking up a bow for the first time since my schooldays. Flea loves archery but it’s not something she gets to do very often so this was a real treat.
Each activity cost just £10 a head, and you don’t need to book at all – just check the website to see what activities are available on any given day, and show up.
Okay, it’s not strictly a castle, but this former hunting lodge is at the centre of a fun activity park. There’s an adventure playground for kids, loads of forest walks with views over Kielder and the River Tyne, a visitor centre and cafe serving hot food and afternoon tea. This is a great spot for walks – Kielder is home to 50% of the UK’s red squirrel population, and you’ve got a great chance of spotting them at Kielder Castle, in the wild.
Flea also had great fun here trying out the maze – a stone and metal construction that is known as The Minotaur.
Go Active at Leaplish
There are three key activity centres at Kielder – Leaplish is probably the biggest. It’s a good base to walk the Lakeside path (if you want to go around the whole lake, it’s 27 miles) and there’s a cafe with great views over the lake and free WiFi (this stuff matters when there’s no mobile signal for miles!). Whatever time of year you visit, make time to check out the bird of prey centre here – flights take place in the afternoon and are worth a watch!
Although we visited in March, if you’re visiting between May and November you can book onto a range of Go Active activities for kids aged 4 and up, from water zorbing to archery, fencing and cycling. These are run by Hoseasons for guests staying at the centre, but you can book online as a day visitor, too.
It’s a little further afield, but it’s worth noting that Kielder is pretty close to the famous Alnwick Castle – which kids will recognise as being the shooting location for scenes in Harry Potter. It’s around a 90 minute drive, through some gorgeous scenery, and there’s plenty to do there even if the weather isn’t co-operating.
Grown ups might also enjoy the castle’s Downton connection, too. In school holidays there are regular Potter-themed events, including broomstick flying lessons, which are a lot of fun.
Do you have recommendations of fun activities in Northumberland for kids? Let me know in the comments!
Pin it for Later