Category: Events

The launch of "The grass seemed darker than ever"

The launch of “The grass seemed darker than ever”

In 2015 Kielder Art & Architecture invited expressions of interest from artists or architects to create a new temporary work for the surroundings of Kielder Castle, Forestry Commission England’s visitor base in Kielder Water & Forest Park, Northumberland. Interested parties were asked to propose a work of contemporary art or architecture in any media that explores and responds to the Castle and its broad environs. This commission would become part of a larger strategic project by Forestry Commission England and the Kielder Trust, involving artists Heather & Ivan Morison and Mosedale Gillatt Architects, that is currently exploring options for the longterm future usage and identity of the Castle and the wider western end of Kielder Water & Forest Park.

The call out resulted in the London-based artist, Fiona Curran, being selected to create ‘The grass seemed darker than ever’. Located only 600m from Kielder Castle visitor centre, the sculpture consists of  350 individually painted sycamore fence palings encircling a section of the forest, which has now been painted black.

The piece is inspired by the history of enclosure of the English landscape, reflecting, in particular, the Black Act of the 18th Century. This Act enabled the death sentence to be passed on people suspected of poaching on the newly-enclosed land, or those found in the forest with blackened faces.

Fiona said: “It has been a wonderful experience working at Kielder over the past year with such a committed and supportive team of people. The landscape has been a constant source of inspiration throughout the changing seasons. It has been a pleasure and a privilege to work in such a magical place, to participate in the Art and Architecture programme, and to contribute to the area’s rich histories.”

The launch also saw the introduction of ten temporary installations created by Fine Art students at Newcastle University. All 11 pieces of work form part of Kielder Water & Forest Park Development Trust’s Art and Architecture programme. These particular pieces have been made possible thanks to support from the Forestry Commission, Northumbrian Water, and Arts Council England.

Working for Active Northumberland, I was given the chance to be considered for a place in the 2015 Kielder 10K at Kielder Water & Forest Park on October 3.

Gearing up for the race with some encouragement from Northumberland County Councillor Kath Nisbet

Dawn (left) gearing up for the race with some encouragement from Northumberland County Councillor Kath Nisbet (right)

After some deliberation I applied. The reasons behind my application were to get fit, lose weight, stop smoking, and generally make my life healthier. I had an added incentive in that I am to be mother-of-the-bride in July 2016 when my daughter gets married.

Shortly after I applied, I was fortunate enough to be offered my own ‘personal trainer’ to get me on my way. Little did Steve Baker from Morpeth Riverside Leisure Centre know what a task he had in front of him…

Week one started gently but by week six, I was working harder than I had ever done and that’s when I joined Ashington Hirst Running Club for beginners. They were fantastic and gave me so much encouragement leading up to the race.

The morning of the race came and I was a little nervous standing on the start line among nearly 900 other runners, but excited at the same time.

It hadn’t really hit me until then just how far 10K actually was and I found myself wishing a little bit that I had already finished the race, and not just about to start!

Everyone was so friendly though and I spoke to a few people around me who had run a 10K before. They assured me that it was an achievement just to be even standing on the start line, to enjoy it and not to worry about what time I finish the race – the main thing was I was there.

Running in the 10K

Running in the 10K

The views of the Park were absolutely stunning and I had plenty of time to enjoy them really as I wasn’t speedy in the least. Even the peace and tranquillity of Kielder Water & Forest Park is ideal and I enjoyed everything about it (except maybe the inclines around Bull Crag peninsula haha).

The people I met and the encouragement all the way along the route was amazing (although I think the marshals felt a bit sorry for the one at the back!). Four very kind marshals actually ran along with me for a short way as I must have looked a lonely figure bringing up the rear, or maybe they were a little on the cool side and needed warming up, either way I really did appreciate it.

Heading for the finish line with Northumbrian Water's David Hall

Heading for the finish line with Northumbrian Water’s David Hall

Crossing the line was amazing! There were so many people there and the atmosphere was something I’ve never experienced before. I think a lot of the crowd were waiting for the first of the Kielder Run-Bike-Run competitors, who were running simultaneously on a longer route, to start coming in but I soaked up their applause regardless.

I am a very lucky lady that I had so many friends and family also there to cheer me on and I want to thank them all.

I go to a running club now every Tuesday and Thursday which will help me finish better than last place or even just aim for a faster time than 1hr 41 mins next year…and yes, I did mention a next year!

That’s what people do; strive to beat their previous time. Although I think I may have to visit Kielder a few times before the race to help me conquer those hills!

The Park is so beautiful though, with it’s extensive network of off-road trails it’s the perfect location for some long (and not so long) distance running and cycling.

The atmosphere of marathon weekend is also so electric and it’s well organised –  I would recommend everyone take part in a race at some point – whether it’s the 10K that I took part in, or the marathon, the half marathon, the Run-Bike-Run or even the junior runs.

If you’re interested, take a peek at

In the meantime, while I gear myself up for next year, I would really like to thank all my colleagues in Active Northumberland who gave me the chance to do this and put up with my regular updates on my training plan!


Dawn Watson
Active Northumberland

So it’s back to Kielder with renewed vigour after a fabulous Christmas break. I do mean Kielder – first day back after New Year and I spent 5 hours in Kielder School while the children and teachers were on a training day.

Historical Kielder Viaduct 2Jo, Julie, Liz, David, Debs and I were hosting a free scanning and heritage story sharing afternoon on the Kielder Viaduct Heritage Project, which is part funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund. David busily scanned an old map of the area pre-Kielder Water, while we talked and captured the stories of villagers about their experiences of the village, railway and viaduct. I even met the man who lives in the former Deadwater Station where the old railway line used to pass through on its way to Riccarton Junction. Tales of coal being passed to the children waiting along the track as the train passed through the valley brought a smile to my face.

We then planned what to do with all of the material we have collected over the period of the project – website links and on-line stories to listen to, plus a possible talking bench and boards, all of course on the Lakeside Way which goes across the viaduct.

22. The iconic shot of the first ever Kielder Marathon 2010Later that evening I met up with the Kielder Parish Council to give them my six monthly update and discuss any plans or events happening in Kielder Water & Forest Park which they might want to work alongside, such as the Kielder Marathon. New events this year include the Kielder Ultra in April and the Kielder Triathlon in July of Iron standard.                                         



Star Trails over Kielder ObservatoryIt’s been a busy week for Dark Skies too. Since securing the International Dark Sky Park Status before Christmas, I have been refining the next steps in our dark skies adventure.

The Kielder Observatory goes from strength to strength with events to March fully booked. So with a possible grant from the Rural Development Programme for England, a group of us are working with local communities to develop Dark Sky Discovery Sites.

These would be dotted about Kielder Water & Forest Park where visitors can get out on a clear night from their B&B, cottage or shepherd hut to see the stars with some information boards and leaflets to help. They may be a local event with a trained astronomer to help point the way with some binoculars and telescopes to hand. Then back to the hot choccy and wood burner to warm up again.


To see Jupiter, Saturn’s rings or the newest and oldest stars in the universe, a trip to the fabulous Kielder Observatory is a must. Gary’s been updating me on their plans to make it a 7 day a week place – but more of that to follow.

Following last weeks BBC Stargazing Live, the evening’s entertainment involved watching Dara and Brian and then tweeting with the rest of the fans just reminding them how great Kielder and the Northumberland International Dark Sky Park really is.


Elisabeth Rowark
Director of Kielder Water & Forest Park Development Trust

Badger in gardenNow then, the subject of badgers, for a few people, is a hot topic. And it is for me too…cos I’ve got loads of them! Not as pets, my adopted badgers are still as wild as can be, but I’m lucky enough to get close to these magnificent beasts on a regular basis. ‘Meles Meles’ or ‘Auld Brockie’  as I like to call them, have a reputation for being vicious little tinkers. If you show yourself to my Brockies all you see is a herd of badger bums legging it the opposite way. Now if you were to corner the animal, that’s another thing. There have been occasions when I’ve seen a fox and a Brock competing for the same food, the fox is shooed away by a nonplussed, but very determined badger. In my mind Brockie is tenaciously robust. (more…)

vk-blog-oyster-goshawkHello again, since I last wrote the wind has grown warmer, the sun shines longer and the bird song is a crescendo in the mornings. Spring is on it’s way! With our early Easter break now complete I have quite a list of happenings at Kielder. The Ospreys have landed! Nest’s one and two are habited and there is a concise, day by day account by our Osprey Watch Volunteer Joanna Dailey at

Kielder Castle Café has a large screen for you to watch live HD footage of the nests and the shenanigans that our amorous visitors get up to, if you do get embarrassed you can always walk to the counter and order another large slice of carrot cake.

During the Easter Break plenty of visitors took part in the activities available at Calvert Trust .(Kielder) Tara Martin (Team Leader Business Developer)  explained to me just how popular the activities had been, with their ‘Laser Clays’, Indoor Climbing Wall and ‘King Swing’ being the busiest events.

Have you ever tried any of these? I’ve taken my family to most of them and it’s great!  I can tell you now, when it comes to “the King Swing…… Kielder, everyone hears you scream!” (more…)