30 of the Best Things to do at Kielder with Kids

This post was published in April 2021. Not all of these facilities will be open at all times and many are seasonal. Please ensure you contact venues direct to check facilities and opening hours/booking requirements before making plans. Also note that prices may have changed since posting so please do check this too. 

30 of the Best Things to do at Kielder with Kids

We absolutely love Kielder. The remote village, forest and reservoir is just three miles South of the Scottish border and it is one of those places where you really feel as if you are in the middle of nowhere. There is very limited phone signal making Kielder the ideal spot to really switch off from the world.

Kielder is special in many ways. It has the lowest levels of light pollution anywhere in England and is a certified International Dark Sky Park. Kielder Forest is the largest man-made woodland in England and over 50% of the UK's red squirrel population can be found here. Kielder Reservoir is the largest artificial lake in the UK and is home to the UK's largest Hydroelectric plant. 

There is also a local legend that there is a whole village hidden under the reservoir....... 

Pretty cool eh? We are so lucky to have such a unique and fantastic place here in Northumberland. It is well worth a visit (or several visits) in my opinion and if you can, I would certainly recommend a weekend break here too. 

30 of the Best Things to do at Kielder with Kids 

Kielder is a vast site. I have tried my best to show you where things are located on the maps below. Click on the images to enlarge them. 

There are a few main destinations. If you approach Kielder travelling North, you will reach Tower Knowe on your right first, then Calvert Trust on your left, then Landal Kielder Waterside on your right then Kielder Castle and Observatory at the top of the map. 

The map below shows more of what's on offer at Landal Kielder Waterside......

And this map below lets you know where the activities around Kielder Castle can be found. 

Know Before You Go

Visit Kielder has put together a handy list of what's opening when - click here to read their guide

Visit Kielder also has lots of handy FAQs including when to visit to avoid midges, their dog policy and opening hours - click here to read

There are public toilets at various locations around Kielder (see maps for details) including Kielder Castle Car Park, Kielder Castle Visitor Centre, Matthew's Linn, Kielder Waterside and Tower Knowe Visitor Centre. I used the map linked in this post to find their locations. 

Parking at Kielder 

Parking at Kielder can be booked online in advance or paid on arrival. It is £2 per hour or £5 per day and covers you for the following car parks: 

  • Kielder Waterside (NE48 1BT)
  • Kielder Castle (NE48 1EP)
  • Skyspace Lower Car Park 
  • Elf Kirk 
  • Tower Knowe (NE48 1BX)
  • Hawkhope
  • South Abutment 
  • Bakethin (NE48 1HF)
  • Matthew's Linn 
The postcodes are for guidance only - everything is really well signposted once you are in Kielder and everything shoots away from one main road. Follow road signs over postcodes once you are in the vicinity. 

You can visit as many/few of the above car parks across the whole day if you buy a day ticket (which is what I would recommend). All car parking spaces are available on a first come, first served basis (I have to say, I've never found them particularly busy but maybe we've just been lucky). 

The Bike Place & Kielder Cycle Centre  

There are 26 miles of cycle trails around Kielder for you to enjoy and you can try as much or little as you like. If you fancy hiring a bike, get in touch with either of these centres who can help you with routes, advice on which bikes would be best suited for you and reserve your bike. There are bikes and routes for all ages and abilities and electric bike hire, tag-a-longs, child seats and trailers are all available too. Find out more here. 

Gruffalo Trail  

The Gruffalo Trail at Kielder is lots of fun for kids and something a little different. Download the Gruffalo Spotters 2 App and have fun with the Augmented Reality in the forest. You will also spot various Gruffalo hidden in the woods, rubbings and activity boards to try as part of the trail.

Read our review of the trail and see more photos here. 

The app and trail are both free to enjoy at any time (no booking required) but if you would like a little added extra, you can purchase a trail pack from the Castle Cafe or Cycle Centre. Find out more about the trail here. 

Minotaur Maze 

The Minotaur Maze is a small, free to visit attraction just next door to Kielder Castle. It is not worth driving all the way to Kielder just for the maze but it's a nice little add-on activity for your day. Find out more here. 

Kielder Observatory 

Kielder Observatory is a place you can experience some of the darkest skies in the world. The observatory hosts a range of family events and activities throughout the year. They usually sell out quite far in advance so it is worth checking what's on and booking well ahead of your trip. Find out more and book here. 

Kielder Castle 

Kielder Castle is a brilliant starting point for any visit to Kielder. Here you will find the main visitor centre with lots of info and a cafe too. Find out more here. 

Kielder Forest Drive

Kielder Forest Drive reopens on 1 May (but please double check their website before setting off). It is a 12 mile drive around spectacular scenery along one of England's highest roads. There is a £3 toll and low vehicles are not recommended. The drive starts near the castle. Find out more here. 

Kielder Art & Architecture Trails  

Kielder is filled with lots of art sculptures and architecture and there are many surprises hidden in the forests. Sometimes they are just fun to stumble upon but if you'd like something a little more structured, you can try one of three art and sculpture trails around the forest. Download maps, directions and find out more here (before you visit as phone signal is poor). 

Kielder Salmon Centre

Kielder Salmon Centre is located in Kielder Village and free to visit/drop in. It is only small but it is interesting and shares information around the life cycle of a salmon and the salmon at Kielder. Find out more here. 

Bakethin Nature Reserve 

Bakethin Nature Reserve is where you will find Kielder Viaduct (home to various bats and birds), a dipping pond, bird hides and bug hotels. There is an easy 2.2km 'wild walk' along the reserve which is clearly signposted from the car park. It is flat, on wide surfaced paths and suitable for pushchairs and wheelchairs. A perfect place to spot lots of different types of wildlife. Find out more here. 

Northumberland Fairytales 

I 100% recommend downloading and listening to these Northumberland Fairytales in the car en-route to Kielder. The legend about how Kielder was formed is one of my favourite ever stories. 

Landal Kielder Waterside 

Landal Kielder Waterside is a beautiful holiday destination and activity centre open to residents and non-residents/day visitors. There is absolutely loads going on! Please read t&cs when booking as some booking/safety conditions apply. Most activities require an adult to book too / adult supervision. 

For the activities below, take a look at what's on offer in the coming weeks/months and book activities online here. Below is a selection of what's available. 

  • Mini Golf - This mini golf course is suitable for all ages and abilities, you don't even need to play the holes in any kind of order. The holes are based on maps of Kielder and it's a bit of a bargain at just £6.75 (in total!) for a family of four. 
  • Crossbow - 45 minute sessions are available for those aged 8+ 
  • Segways - Available to those aged 12+
  • Hoverkarts - Available for ages 6-16 (weight limits apply)
  • Fishing - Book your permit here 
  • Paddleboarding - 90 minute sessions for those aged 10+  
  • Tomahawk Throwing - 45 minutes sessions for those aged 8+
  • Canoeing - A 90 minute canoeing session for those aged 8+  
  • Archery - 45 minute sessions for those aged 7+ 
  • Pond Dipping - Suitable for children aged 5+

Forest Bar and Kitchen - a pub/restaurant (formerly The Boat Inn) overlooking the reservoir at Landal Kielder Waterside. Open to residents and non-residents but please check their website for current restrictions. Find out more here. 

Play Parks - there are a couple of play parks between the Forest Bar and Kitchen / Kielder Birds of Prey which are available to guests enjoying activities or staying on site. 

Kielder Birds of Prey - Kielder Birds of Prey Centre is located on Landal Kielder Waterside but is a seperate business if that makes sense. It is small and not the kind of place you can spend a full day but they are home to such a wide and interesting range of birds and the staff are so knowledgeable that I think it's definitely worth a visit. 

Once restrictions allow, there are organised displays but at the moment, you can meet birds throughout the day (socially distanced). No need to book in advance - just pay on the door. Find out more here. 

Wafflemeister - I have included Wafflemeister in this section as it is operated by Landal Kielder Waterside but it is actually on their Tower Knowe site. Expect waffles, ice cream and hot drinks in a glorious lakeside setting. Find out more here. 

Calvert Trust Kielder 

Calvert Trust Kielder offer various day packages and drop-in activities throughout the year. Activities are inclusive to all. Some of the activities on offer include: 

  • Kielder Zipcoaster 
  • King Swing 
  • High Ropes Course 
  • Introductory Sailing Course 
  • Wildlife & Osprey Cruises 
  • Axe Throwing / Archery / Laser Clay Pigeon Shooting 

Find out more about activities at Calvert Trust Kielder and book here. 

Where to Stay 

You can stay at both Landal Kielder Waterside Park or Calvert Trust Kielder - both offer a variety of lodges. If you fancy camping, check out Kielder Campsite and overnight parking is permitted in some car parks once restrictions allow (£10 fee). If glamping's more your thing, I can highly recommend Hesleyside Huts nearby. 

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Thank you for your support as always. 

Please follow social distancing rules & Government guidelines , respect the local area, leave no trace, take litter home, park responsibly and if somewhere is busy on arrival, please consider leaving and returning at a later date. 

Remember face coverings are required for indoor attractions / shops for those aged 11+ (usual exemptions apply)  

Check for local lockdowns / travel restrictions before visiting anywhere. 

Always check updated opening hours / protocols with venues direct before setting off as things may have changed after this post was published. 

30 of the Best Things to do at Kielder with Kids


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