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Lucker Hall

Northumberland, England

The Kielder Water and Forest Park: Dark skies, wildlife and lots of walks!

Posted by Luci Ackers on Jul 29, 2016
The Kielder Water and Forest Park: Dark skies, wildlife and lots of walks!

Image: The Kielder Observatory

At Lucker Hall you are just a drive away from the third largest area of protected sky in the world. Here is a place of complete beauty. You can really submerge yourself in the night's sky without any disruption. This area of the countryside is a haven for outdoor lovers...

So what is it?

The Kielder Water and Forest Park in Northumberland is an incredible place for a number of reasons. It is home to the largest man-made forest in the country: the huge 250 square miles is covered predominantly in rich conifer woodland. It surrounds the largest manmade lake in the UK, Kielder Water, which has a shoreline of an impressive 27 miles. Visitors can enjoy endless trails, bike rides, water sports and nature spotting during the day.

But, what's really exciting, is that the Kielder Forest Park protects one of the largest dark sky areas in the world.

So in the evening, this landscape gives a whole new meaning to the word 'tranquil'. Having been awarded Dark Sky status in 2013, this stunning area is now protected as an International Dark Sky Park. Light pollution is bought down to a minimum, offering the opportunity for more people to experience and be inspired by the sky. During the evening the stars above your head shine with an absolutely breathtaking clarity.

The Kielder Observatory

In the heart of this protected space, the Kielder Observatory is situated under two hours from Lucker Hall, close to the border with Scotland. It's an absolute must for anyone who is interested in delving a little deeper into the beautiful night's sky. The observatory opens its doors to the public when there is an event on and offers visitors the chance to use the telescopes, speak to the astronomers and learn a little more.

Wildlife

A sky protected from light pollution doesn't just create a haven for stargazers, but is also really good for a whole wealth of local wildlife. The Kielder forest is home to around 50% of the UK's red squirrel population and also sees ospreys return each year to breed and roe deer living amongst the trees. Be sure to keep your eyes peeled while you're on your walk!

At night time the forest comes alive around you; dark skies enhance habitats, and create a very rich environment for the species that live there. The International Dark Sky Association promotes an energy efficiency that encourages people to 'light what they need, when they need it' using eco-friendly lighting. This reduces light pollution and carbon emissions and is far better for the nocturnal wildlife. Owls, bats, badgers and foxes all flourish because of it.

Visiting

The observatory is well signposted off the C200.

If you're coming from Lucker you'll come via the B6320 and take a right turn at the signpost to Kielder, Comb and Greenhaugh.

For a full programme of the events that are taking place, visit the website here. And remember to book in advance.

If it's just a walk in the forest that you fancy, you can see a great selection of some of the routes available here

FIND OUT HOW YOU TOO CAN STAY HERE
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Luci Ackers
Author: Luci Ackers

Luci loves getting out and about for a good cycle ride or easy-going walks in the countryside, and thoroughly enjoyed the time she previously spent working for the National Trust. Her love of writing started from a young age and on rainy days nothing beats curling up in a secret corner with a good book.


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