The Lost Spells Exhibition at The Sill

This post is an advert for August 2022. Any reshares or edits beyond this date have not been asked or paid for. This post contains affiliate links.  Please check with venues direct for the most up-to-date information before heading out as information in this post can change. 

The Lost Spells Exhibition at The Sill

The Lost Spells Listening to a Landscape of voices is a new exhibition and programme of events taking place at The Sill : National Landscape Discovery Centre in Northumberland National Park. 

It's based on the book 'The Lost Spells' which features stunning art work by Jackie Morris and beautiful words by Robert Macfarlane (you can buy the book here). This book is recommended for ages 9+ and as an adult, I absolutely loved it. 

It's a nature book you can dip in and out of and is designed to be read aloud. I'd definitely recommend as something thought provoking and a little different to your usual read. 

Although the book is recommended for ages 9+, the exhibition, words and illustrations can be enjoyed by all ages and it's something I would recommend for all ages from little ones right up to great grand parents. A trip to The Sill is one of those places I would recommend as being perfect for a multi-generational day out or place to visit with kids or different ages. 

The Lost Spells exhibition explores the tranquil landscape of Northumberland National park and the various species you will find here. It is free to visit and continues until Sunday 4 June 2023. No booking is required - just drop in during normal opening hours. Find out more here. 

The Lost Spells Book

Scroll to the bottom of this post for a list of FAQs. 

We had a brilliant day out visiting the exhibition alongside the rest of The Sill. The staff were all friendly and helpful, there was quite a bit to do and activities were engaging and in good working order, it was so nice escaping to the countryside and enjoying the views and some fresh air and a lovely lunch in the cafe topped off our day. 

This post will share my top 10 reasons why I think you should consider visiting too. 

10 Reasons to Visit The Lost Spells Exhibition 

1 - It's free to visit with no booking required 

The Sill is generally open from 10am - 5pm every day (do check this before setting off) so perfect to keep on your list of places to visit when the weather isn't so great, you fancy visiting somewhere new or you want to get out into the countryside somewhere with good facilities.

It's free to visit too so ideal for a trip at the end of the summer holidays when we're all spent up (parking charges apply). 

2 - Interactive, sensory & creative fun for little ones (and beyond)

Just before you enter the main exhibition, look out for 'the lost spells hub' which is just to the side of the main exhibition space. 

It's a lovely little creative hub with self-led activities including animal dress up, spell writing, sensory trays, a light box, drawing activities and building blocks. 

The Lost Spells Exhibition at The Sill  - Dress Up Area

3 - Thought provoking for older kids & adults 

We visited the exhibition with 13 year old Dee who does like this kind of thing. But I have to say, as two adults and a teen, we really enjoyed our time here and we just jumped in and joined in with some of the activities too. It was fun. 

The exhibition does focus a lot on sound and words and there are various interactive areas where you can get involved. 

Below is a soundscape board where you can add different woodland animals to a scene and create your own layer of sounds. It's a different way to get creative. 

And above, Steve is learning more about some of the local wildlife you may spot in Northumberland National Park. 

I really admired the gorgeous illustrations and words and it's the kids of exhibition which will make you feel happy inside.

4 - Try some mindfulness 

There are several spaces and activities where you can enjoy a bit of escapism including this quiet corner and some colouring sheets. Again, please don't think these are just for little ones, there for all ages to enjoy. You're never too old to enjoy a spot of colouring. 

The setting in Northumberland National Park is a perfect place to really switch off and recharge. 

5 - Learn about local wildlife & species 

The exhibition includes copies of The Lost Spells book and you are invited to take a seat and enjoy. Various sections are brought to life on the walls around you too.

I loved the Fox section (they're my favourite animal so I was bound to) but there are also sections dedicated to wildlife that wouldn't automatically come to mind including the Jackdaw. Do take time to read the whole verse if you can - it's so clever. 

It's not just animals either, several plants and trees you might find in Northumberland are highlighted too. 

6 - Join in with an associated special event

There is a range of special events planned across the year to compliment the exhibition. They look fab and are a brilliant way to try something new and discover a new skill. Highlights this summer include: 

  • Nature Ranger with Wild Intrigue (for ages 7-16)
  • The Lost Spells Holiday Club (for ages 6-14) 
  • Wild Wander (for all ages - parents go free) 
  • The Lost Spells Little Larks (for under 6s) 

You can find out more about what's on in Northumberland National Park and book these events and more here. 

New events are added regularly so do check back. 

7 - Explore the rest of The Sill 

It is definitely worth taking some time to explore the rest of The Sill after you've visited The Lost Spells exhibition. It's all free to visit and self-led. 

Their permanent exhibition explores the different landscaes around us and covers topics such as different types of rocks, the water cycle, how landscapes have changed over time, challenges we may face in the future, different habitats and more. 

The exhibition is engaging with lots of interactive elements (pull this / twist this / look through here etc....) and educational too. Everything is in excellent working order. 

The sand box is always popular - you move the sand around to create different landscapes. 

Definitely take the time to explore the roof top walk. There are little prompts as you walk up to the top sharing information on how and why certain plants grow where they do. 

The main reason I like going up to the roof top is the views though - they're stunning and you can see Hadrian's Wall and enjoy panoramic views of Northumberland National Park. The roof top walk is accessible for pushchairs and wheelchairs but pet dogs are not permitted up here. 

8 - There's a playground, cafe, toilets & takeaway kiosk 

The Sill has excellent facilities including a lovely cafe serving local produce, light bites, afternoon tea and kids meals and a takeaway kiosk at the entrance with seating which is ideal if you're just after a drink or ice cream.

Facilities are good with baby change, toilets, accessible toilets and a changing places toilet. 

There is a fairly new playground too which is a welcome new addition. There are balance beams, a hammock swing, a leaf shaped climbing board and a sand play area with diggers etc..... 

The Sill Playground

The Sill Cafe

I recommend the sausage rolls from the cafe - served warm with local chutney. 

9 - It's easy to combine your day with a walk to Sycamore Gap 

View of Sycamore Gap from the road

It's a 2 mile circular loop to Sycamore Gap and back from The Sill which is a popular waling route with families. It's very easy to add this walk onto your day out here and it's suitable for little ones (read our guide to trying this walk with kids here). 

You can read more about the walks available from The Sill here or just ask a member of staff - they're super knowledgable and there are walking maps available at The Sill reception. 

10 - It's accessible by public transport (+ on site parking) 

AD122 bus at The Sill

I love that the Sill is accessible by public transport. The AD122 bus stops right outside from Easter - end of October. You can check the current timetable and route here. 

We enjoyed a full day out around Hadrian's Wall using the AD122 a few years ago - you can read about that trip here. 

On site parking is also available with 170 spaces. We have always managed to find a space whenever we've visited (see here for parking charges). There are two electric vehicle charging points and they were working on the day of our visit. 


What age would you recommend this for? 

I would recommend this exhibition and wider day out at The Sill for all ages from tots to great grandparents. It's somewhere all ages will enjoy. 

How long should we aim to spend here? 

I would recommend setting aside around 2-3 hours to explore the exhibitions, playground and stop for lunch. Longer if you'd like to incorperate the walk to Sycamore Gap too. 

Is The Sill suitable for pushchairs and wheelchairs? 

The Sill has been designed to be accessible to everyone and is suitable for wheelchairs and pushchairs. The building is fully accessible and there is a Changing Places toilet on site with shower, adult changing table and hoist and there are five blue badge parking spaces.  You can read their full access statement here. 

What are the opening hours? 

The Sill is open daily from 10am-5pm but do check their Social Media for updates before you visit in case of temporary closures. 

Is The Sill dog friendly? 

Pet dogs are welcome in the outdoor areas of The Sill (with the exception of the Whin Grassland roof). They are not permitted in the indoor areas. There is outdoor seating at the entrance, dog water bowls and a takeaway kiosk which is suitable for those visiting with dogs. Read more about The Sill's dog policy here. 

What can I do nearby to make a day of it? 

  • Walltown Country Park 
  • Chester's Roman Fort (English Heritage) 
  • Twice Brewed Inn 
  • Vindolanda and Roman Army Museum 
  • Housesteads Roman Fort (English Heritage / National Trust) 
  • Walk to Sycamore Gap 
  • Haltwhistle Outdoor Pool 

Where can I stay nearby? 

The Sill is also home to a YHA and it looks like a fantastic place to base yourself for exploring the area. Find out more here.  If you're visiting with a dog, The Twice Brewed Inn next door has dog-friendly rooms or you could try glamping / camping at Herding Hill Farm which is a few miles away. 

Where can I find out more? 

Check out their website here:

Where exactly is The Sill? 

The Sill is in the heart of Northumberland National Park. Located 35 miles West of Newcastle, it's an easy yet scenic drive. 

Address: National Landscape Discovery Centre. Bardon Mill. Hexham. Northumberland. NE47 7AN. 

The Sill from Newcastle Upon Tyne


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