Northumberland-Walks.co.uk - photographic walks in Northumberland.
Leaplish to Hawkhirst Circular Walk, Kielder.
This walk includes lakeside paths, forest trails and tarmac roads with tremendous views of Kielder Water.
DWhen we did this walk we hardly saw another soul in some places.
We started at Leaplish and followed a lakeside path into the forest. This should also have been the return route but inconsiderate tree felling had destroyed the path through the forest when we visited, so we returned along the main road.
Total Distance is between 5 and 6 miles depending on route variations.
Toilets - next to pub / shops at Leaplish, but not always open.
We started this walk in the car park at Leaplish.
1) We followed the path out of the north end of the car park and skirt along the shore into an inlet where the footpath became clearly visible.
This was necessary when we did this walk due to tree felling next to the car park. When this is complete you should be able to follow the footpath through the forest again (waymarked).
2) A short distance along the inlet there is a footbridge on your right. We crossed this bridge and follow the footpath along the other side of the inlet.
Some of the best views of Kielder Water are from this point. You can see along the lake as far as the dam if the weather is clear.
3) We followed this path, crossing more footbridges as it skirts around the shoreline.
The path was wide and recently laid along here but came to an abrupt end at a fence beside the forest.
4) From here we turned right and walk down towards the lake until you reach a stile across the fence.
We then crossed the stile and follow the path up through the forest.
Here is when we needed good navigation skills, depending on when you do this walk.
According to the O.S. Map the path should follow roughly the edge of the forest for a while before bearing slightly to the right and then downhill to a stile where we left the forest.
When we did this walk however the path had been destroyed by tree felling and we took a wrong route that brought us out of the forest at the wrong place. This was the only visible route se we had to follow it.
As it happens it brought us to Mounces Viewpoint which provides superb views north over the forest to the Scottish Border.
The downside of this was that we had to climb a couple of fences and cross a field to get back to the path at the stile, where we should have left the forest.
5) From the stile few ollow the path which soon became a boardwalk across a boggy area to a very narrow footbridge.
6) Here we crossed the bridge (single file only!) and a stile at the other end.
This is on the old North Tyne Valley Road which was the main road before the reservoir was built and the valley was flooded.
We turned right and followed the road.
7) After a short distance the road disappears into the reservoir.
We turned left before the water and follow a path up to another stile at the edge of the forest.
8) We crossed the stile and follow the path through the forest close to the shore by the lakeside. There were some markers here and there but this seems to be a little used path.
9) After a while the path turned left, still staying close to the shore but at this point it becomes indistinct and boggy in places. We diverted onto the shore in one place where the path was very wet.
10) Beyond a clearing the path enters the forest again and signs of human activity reappear. Old sawhorses that may have been used as fires (or barbeques?) are scattered about the forest.
11) The path soon emerges from the forest at Hawkhirst where boats and canoes are stored by the lake and moored in the water.
12) At this point we followed the path through the forest which emerges at the old Tyne Valley Road again. There was then a choice to make.
a) Turn left and after a short distance you will reach the narrow footbridge you crossed earlier. From there, retrace your steps to Leaplish.
b) Turn right and walk up to the main road. Follow the road back and either turn left onto a path back down to the lake or continue along to the Caravan Park exit road and down to Leaplish Car Park.
Note: if you take option b) as we did due to the state of the forest path, take great care along the road as some traffic travels very fast on this stretch. Keep on the right so you can see it coming and move onto the verge.