About Kielder Forest

Kielder Water and Forest Park encompasses over 230 square miles of some of the most spectacular scenery in the United Kingdom. Home to a variety of outdoor pursuit camps and activity centres, the Forest is home to the Kielder Observatory, in Europe’s second largest dark sky protected reserve.

The forest itself produces 25% of England’s domestically grown timber, is home to over 50% of all England’s red squirrels and counts a multitude of deer, wild goats, goshawks and buzzards amongst its natural residents.

But more to the point, it’s got some of the nation’s least light polluted skies! Small telescopes seem to swell in aperture as tough targets glow against an inky backdrop. Objects such as Messier 33, a galaxy deemed by many to be invisible to the naked eye, can be clearly seen from the Observatory site on moonless nights.

At a latitude of 55 degrees north, the Observatory is famed for its ability to see spectacular northern light displays, when the solar activity reaches levels suitable (known as the KP index, with KP levels of 5 or higher, we regularly see the Aurora).

On the back of this, we regularly host Aurora events, and have wowed visitors with the subtle hues of greens, reds and crimsons caused by the Sun's energetic particles slamming in to our atmosphere, creating that mystical magical glow.

Hadrian's Wall, a Unesco World Heritage Site is within a few miles of the Observatory site, offering visitors who like to take long and relaxing walks or cycle rides, a chance to experience heritage and history on a scale that can only be found in what is widely regarded as one of the UK's most beautiful counties. With the lowest population density of any in the UK, the level of light pollution measured during the International Dark Sky survey reached a staggering 23.5 out of a maximum of 24, making us one of the darkest places in continental Europe.


Kielder Village lies only a short drive from our Observatory, with its famed castle, a top visitor attraction, a local village shop, numerous bed and breakfast facilities, a first class public house, and a nearby campsite, offering visitors comfortable accommodation.

The Kielder Campsite, which pays host to regular star parties, has a good range of facilities, including laundrette, pay phone, hot and cold showers, dish washing room and children's play area. A warm room will be open so campers can remove the chill from their bones during observing sessions.

Seventeen miles south east of the Observatory is Bellingham, which has a wider range of shops and facilities, including a well stocked supermarket.

Kielder Village and our Observatory have limited mobile phone reception, so please be aware of this, when making travel arrangements to and from us. 

Northumberland is widely regarded as one of the most beautiful counties in all of the United Kingdom. Take a look at the fantastic range of things to do as part of your visit to the observatory and its surroundings here at the Visit Northumberland website.