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A family day out at Kielder

A family day out at Kielder

This is a guest post by Jill and Ged, who took a trip up to Kielder Water and Forest Park with their two boys aged 8 and 3. They followed the Highway Rat trail, enjoyed lunch at the Castle Cafe and watched a demonstration at the Kielder Water Birds of Prey Centre.

Family time at Kielder

Last week we had an excellent day out at Kielder. After a nice drive, we arrived at Kielder Castle, which was formerly a hunting lodge for the Duke of Northumberland and is now the visitor centre. As we got out of the car it began to rain heavily, but we were prepared for the borders climate and put on our waterproof gear.

kielder highway rat trail two boys with gruffalo

The Highway Rat trail

We started with The Highway Rat trail, based on the book by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler. The trail is great fun for smaller kids who can collect clues and rubbings, and explore with the help of a pack available from the cafe at the castle. The whole family can enjoy a nice walk through the forest, which could take anything from forty minutes to two hours depending on how old/fast/preoccupied your party members are. The latter part of the trail would be difficult for pushchairs or wheelchairs. Keep your eyes peeled for some of Donaldson’s other characters, such as Stick Man, and The Gruffalo.

highway rat trail kielder forest boy with mask in wanted sign

boy wearing mask from highway rat trail at kielder forest running along dirt track

Kielder Water Bird of Prey Centre

Next, we headed over to the Kielder Water Bird of Prey Centre. The rain had stopped during the earlier walk, and we were given an interesting and informative show by Ray. There was a large party of scouts there, but all of the kids were allowed to join in the display and help handle the birds. We saw various owls and hawks before rain stopped play. The birds were having none of it when the rain began to fall, and this was a fitting demonstration of the behaviour of these majestic creatures.

Kielder birds of prey demonstration with owl handling

Kielder Castle Cafe

On the way home, we popped into the cafe for refreshments and received good value and service in a cosy environment.

kielder castle family day out

kielder castle cafe doorway

Kielder also hosts mountain biking, water sports, and various other activities, and has an observatory, a scout centre, and a couple of pubs.

We enjoyed our day so much that we’re planning to stay a few nights in a lodge nearby and make a long weekend of our next visit!

Lunch for the family was complimentary, along with the birds of prey demonstration, and the highway rat trail. All words and photos by the family.

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