Walk Distance: 10km Walk Duration: 2hr 40 OS Map: OS Landranger Cheviot Hills and Kielder Water OL80 ,OS Explorer Kielder Water and Forest OL 42 Suitable for: all-terrain & sturdy pushchairs, slings/backpacks, older children, cycling with baby seats. Walk features: Good paths, lakeside walking, forest walking, nature reserves and wildlife spotting (red squirrels), refreshments, public toilets, pub, shop, playground and information centre. Walk description: The Kielder Water Leaplish Loop walk offers gentle off-road walking and cycling on well made paths suitable for all the family. Starting from the Leaplish Waterside Park, this route is just one of many possible child and baby friendly walks at Kielder Water. It offers the same great quiet and scenic paths alongside the reservoir as it weaves out over a headland protruding into Kielder Water reservoir, as well as the chance to look for red squirrels and spot the Osprey from Leaplish Waterside Park centre. Leaplish Waterside Park itself has plenty besides walks to offer. There is a children’s playground, a birds of prey centre where children can even take short courses, osprey spotting during the summer months, ferries to the other side of the reservoir and every imaginable kind of watersport! There is also a good shop selling maps and tourist items and a restaurant and picnic area with views across the reservoir. Public facilities and baby changing facilities are plentiful, including outdoor accessible ones for children with muddy feet returning from walks.
Begin the Kielder Water Leaplish Loop walk at the Leaplish Waterside Park centre – next to the visitor car park. With your back to Leaplish centre itself, follow the Lakeside Trail footpath signs which will take you around to the left-hand side behind the centre and to the start of the Lakeside Trail proper which is clearly signposted as it leads into the forest along the water’s edge. Follow the trail through the woods – you can take a quick detour as it bends around to the right if you fancy a clear view of Kielder Water reservoir – following the Lakeside Trail signs. Along the path you will see signs for the wildlife hide.
Follow these up the trail to the left and you will come to the red squirrel hide down a small track off the main path to your left. It is definitely worth a detour to visit the hide and watch for the Kielder red squirrels. Kielder Water is home to around 50% of Britain’s remaining native red squirrel population with the red squirrel hide at Leaplish offering the best chance of a sighting. Even if our furry red friends don’t make an appearance, the bird feeders located just in front of the hide are always a hive of activity and children will enjoy watching the feeding frenzy of tails and feathers flitting to and fro from trees to feeders. Red squirrel watching over, return to the trail and continue until you descend into the small watersports parking area. Walk straight across and rejoin the trail as it moves onto the headland of Bull Crag Peninsula, jutting out over Kielder Water. Wind your way uphill and enjoy the start of the fantastic views across Kielder Water. From here you can see the whole of Kielder ‘s north shore.
For those with rumbling stomachs, Freya’s Cabin a little further along the headland is a perfect spot to have a picnic. The little wooden ornately decorated hut perches on the hillside just above the Lakeside Trail and offers panoramic picnic views across Kielder Water reservoir from within the shelter of its walls. Freya’s Cabin is one of two cabins built on the north and south shores of Kielder Water, designed and handmade by Studio Weave architects. It’s inspiration is based on the story of two lovers, Freya and Robin, who live on opposite sides of the lake and have to overcome barriers in order to meet. You can see Robin’s Cabin from Freya’s Cabin on the opposite shore and children can read the full tale of the lovers over their lunch in the cabin.
Moving on from Freya’s Cabin, the Lakeside Trail continues around Bull Crag Peninsula to the right. As you bend round the corner leaving the first stretch of the peninsular path behind you, the trail joins the old valley road – most of which now lies beneath the deeps of Kielder’s tranquil waters after the creation of the reservoir submerged the land it ran through. Now it offers smooth walking for families with small children along the end of the headland, lined with the cheerful bright yellow of wild broom in summer. At the end of this stretch of road across the head of Bull Crag peninsula, the trail once more turns to the right and back onto a woodland trail. Enjoy walking through what feels like a giant Christmas tree plantation and have your children look out for Mr. Tumnus or Aslan – it certainly feels Narnia-esque! These trees make up just a small part of the what is the biggest working forest in England. Along the path you continue to get tantalising glimpses of Kielder Water down below you before the path crosses the small Bull Crag Peninsula parking area. Here the views open more up down into sheltered Whickhope Inlet below and you can see and assortment of boats bobbing at their moorings.
The trail diverges here with the Lakeside Trail continuing downhill to the waters edge and longer walks. Don’t take this left hand trail but carry straight on instead for the circular walk back to Leaplish Waterside Park. The trail bends around to your right and joins woodland paths back towards Leaplish. After walking through the forest a little further the path will once more bend around to face out across Bull Crag Peninsula and you will have a view across to Freya’s Cabin, Kielder Water and the path you took earlier. For those with pushchairs or buggies, it is best to descend down to Freya’s Cabin once more and follow your original path back round to Leaplish and the walk start. For those with children of walking age or carrying babies in backpacks or slings, turn left on a small woodland trail here which leads back parallel to the route you took from the visitor centre on the way out. This route is further inland and uphill than the outgoing trail and offers scenic views across Kielder Water and the surrounding forest. It can however get a little boggy under foot and narrow in places, hence why not recommended for children in buggies. If following the woodland trail, you will come to an access road which you should cross. Shortly after this the trail will exit the forest by the Leaplish Waterside Park cabins. Walk past the cabins downhill, past the birds of prey centre and back to the information centre where your walk began. Children can let off any remaining steam in the playground on the way back! Map of Route: Directions: View Kielder Water walk – Leaplish Waterside Park in a larger map Rate this walk: