Kielder Forest and Hadrian Wall, 28-30 April 2017

We spent the long weekend in the Northumberland, as the strong winds in the forecast prevented us going into the mountains. Kielder Forest is only 2.5 h drive from York. We arrived late on Friday night, and walked to the nearest bothy. There are a few well-maintained bothies in Kielder Forest. We were only a few kilometers from the bothy, but once the path disappeared and we found ourselves in the midst of logging slash, our pace slowed down to crawling. We reached the bothy after 11 pm.

The red, blue, green and brown lines show our track in the first, second, third days and by the Hadrian Wall, respectively. The red arrow shows direction of travel.

The bothy had a nice open fireplace and we enjoyed the fire. The bothy was a converted 2-storey farm house with four rooms. The top floor was occupied by a pair of youths but they were no trouble at all.

It was a starry night.

The bothy originally belonged to the Roughside farm. On a picture of this place from 1950s, there were no trees at all, the farmhouse was surrounded by fields. Now it is in the middle of a dark forest. A few stone walls are the only reminder of the farming past. They must have been breeding sheep here. There is no water or electricity in the bothy but a bio toilet outside, and rain water is collected. The bothy was quite tidy; it is maintained by Mountain Bothies Association. There must have been other buildings on the farm. We liked a row of trees planted by the road leading into the bothy.

The forest track with a stone wall. The forest is so thick that there is no undergrowth, not even moss. The green signs of flora are only visible in the places the sun can break into, like the roadside.

A mossy wall.

In the open spaces, the moss also grows on the fir tree branches, but it's not quite like in France, the climate there is a lot milder.

A typical picture of Kielder Forest: woodland, logging slashes, fields, a few farms, moors further on. This is the biggest man-made forest in England (650 km²).

Jerry's Linn waterfall. These pine trees are probably natural rather than planted.

The water level is quite low, but judging by the pile of tree trunks by the waterfall, the currents here could be strong.


Here the trees were fallen by the winds - one row after another.

Most plantations here are Sitka spruce (Picea sitchensis). Looks like an ordnary fir tree but with a blueish tint and very sharp needles.

We covered over 15 km, some on the paths, some through the cuttings in the forest. This area has very few visitors, and not all paths are visible. The cuttings are not easily passable. The trees are planted very close to each other so it is very hard to get through the forest without paths. We spent over an hour getting through a patch of forest less than 1 km wide. The prize for our efforts was a camp fire. We camped at a designated wild camping spot, on a medow next to a stream, and made a small fire on the pebbles at the side of the stream.

British soldiers lichen (Cladonia cristatella).

Hadrian Wall

The next morning we quickly made it to our car and drove to Hadrian Wall. When the Romans conquered this territory (122-126 AD), they got to the border with Scotland and decided that they'd had enough. To protect the Empire from the attacks of Northern tribes, they built a wall across England, over 100 km long. The Eastern part of the wall was made of stone (2.4 m thick, 6 m tall). The Western part of the wall was an earth bank.

We visited Housesteads, the best remaining fort, and then walked West along the wall. Here Sonya is inspecting a Roman warehouse.

A robin exploring Roman heritage.

A dog on the wall.

A milecastle. Milecastles were built on the wall every mile. Here we crossed the wall and stopped for lunch on the Northern side. Sonya is looking at Kielder forest, where we had been walking the day before.

The remains of the Hadrian Wall are only 1.5-2 m tall at best - but the wall was 6 m tall when built.

Apparently this is one of the most photographed trees in the North of England: Sycamore Gap Tree. We only found out later.

The last tower on our way.

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