Kielder Forest Drive
We explored this little route on our way up to do the NC500. The weather, forecast to rain all week was kind to us, and stayed dry, with a few sunny spells throughout the drive.
The route starts at Kielder Castle and finishes on the A68 near Otterburn, a few miles from the Scottish border. There is a small £3 levy, which you pay via a machine at the Kielder end. It only accepts change, although if you are caught short, the bike centre opposite were very accommodating in changing a note for us.
Gravel track; Stunning views
The road is mainly gravel, although there is a short tarmac section near the beginnning. The road forks along here – don’t do as we did and take the left hand route. Not only does it clearly state ‘No unathorised access’, it is a dead end track to a private farm house! Quite how we missed the signs I’m not sure!
Back on the “right” route (see what I did there?) we trundled along stopping occasionally for photos. It is worth noting that the road has a speed limit of 25mph along most of its length – and the potholes let you know if you go much faster! As a relatively new biker, I would say that the road is easily passable to bikers, and is fairly easy going. We rode steadily, staying in 2/3 gear the majority of the way. There was plenty of room for a passing car and our bikes without either going off the track or using one of the passing places dotted along the way.
The road winds to a high point which looks out over the moorland. This was beautiful in a desolate sort of way, and would be absolutely stunning in better conditions! The views along the road vary between panoramics across the Northumbrian hillsides to vast swathes of pine woodland. It is worth remembering that the area is a working plantation – with respect to both the views and traffic.
Kielder forest plays host to a large variety of wildlife. Ospreys, Red Squirrels, Otters and Roe Deer are amongst the large list of creatures that call the landscape around Kielder home. We weren’t particularly looking for any wildlife, but spied a few birds of prey hovering above the Forest Drive a times. If you’re looking explore what Kielder has to offer you can buy a combined parking/Forest Drive pass for £7.