Celebrating 30 years of Kielder Reservoir

Kielder Reservoir


The ‘jewel in the water crown’ is set to celebrate a special anniversary.

As Kielder Reservoir in Northumberland approaches its thirtieth birthday, tourists and locals alike are invited to hear its extraordinary story as told by the people who live and work there.

‘What the reservoir means to me’, a special exhibition at Tower Knowe Visitor Centre, is one of a series of activities taking place in Kielder Water & Forest Park to commemorate the anniversary.

On Wednesday 26 May 1982 her majesty the Queen officially opened Kielder Reservoir in Northumberland. The largest man-made lake in northern Europe; the Northumbrian Water project had a big impact on the remote valley and is now one of the county’s top tourism destinations.

Elisabeth Rowark, from Kielder Water & Forest Park Development Trust, said: “Kielder is such a special place and a place that many people hold dear to their hearts. It’s sheer scale, the breathtaking scenery and the pure, idyllic tranquillity makes it such a majestic and memorable place.

“We’re inviting everyone to join us in celebrating Kielder Reservoir’s first 30 years and what better way than seeing this special place through the eyes of those in the know.”

The exhibition showcases deeply personal stories that capture the reservoir’s fascinating history such as the tale of Jonty Hall, the little boy who dammed the River North Tyne to form the reservoir in 1979 and now manages the reservoirs maintenance, and Richard Bond, who used to catch tiddlers in his socks and now manages Kielder Salmon Centre, looking after salmon, pearl mussels and other endangered species.

Children are also invited to art and craft workshops where they can contribute to the celebration of Kielder’s special history by taking part in one of three activities. They can help to colour in a giant commemorative sail that will eventually be displayed at the visitor centre, log why they love Kielder so much on a special collage, or make mini baskets or foam animals to take home.

The special weekend of activities will take place on Saturday 26 and Sunday 27 May and includes:

Tower Knowe Visitor Centre

The exhibition stories:

• Jonty Hall – pressed the button to form the reservoir and now manages the maintenance

• Richard Bond – used to catch tiddlers in his socks and now manages the Kielder Salmon Centre

• Peter Pattinson – won his first fishing competition at Kielder aged 14 and is now assistant operations manager

• Jayne Dolbear – senior watersports instructor at Calvert Trust Kielder

• Kelly Hollings – returned from working in North America to be an estates officer for Northumberland Wildlife Trust

• Ellen Earsman – her daughter was chosen to present a posy to the Queen at the opening of Kielder Reservoir and now Ellen works at Leaplish Waterside Park

• Dave Raggett – passionate about renewable energy and looks after Kielder’s hydro-electric plant

• Maria Smith – an architect who fell in love with Kielder and designed Freya’s Cabin and Robin’s Hut artworks

For interview requests contact Philippa Clark on 0191 301 5538.

Visit the interactive exhibition or take part in the art and crafts workshops from 11am to 3pm both days. Pre-booking not required. There will be free tea, coffee and birthday cake for all visitors.


To mark Kielder’s 30th birthday, Northumbrian Water has released thirty very special rainbow trout into the reservoir. Lucky anglers that catch a fish with an anniversary tag can win a variety of prizes including day fishing permits and 2013 season permits.

Activity taster days at Calvert Trust Kielder

Drop in anytime from 10am to 4pm to try your hand at the top outdoor activities Calvert Trust Kielder has to offer. For £10 per person, visitors can experience the High Ropes course on Friday 25 May, the indoor climbing wall on Saturday 26 May or the giant King Swing on Sunday 27 May. No booking required.

Kielder Observatory

On Saturday 26 May there is an Aurora Night at the award-winning Kielder Observatory. Learn about the incredible energy that the sun releases second by second, how this energy interacts with the earth’s atmosphere and gives a light show like no other. Booking required through www.kielderobservatory.org.

Mountain biking and cycling

Join in the celebrations by cycling 26 miles around the shoreline of Kielder Water on this anniversary weekend. Purple Mountain bike hire centre has a special family offer available on Saturday 26 and Sunday 27 May - hire two adult bikes for the full day and get one children’s hire for half price or hire three adult bikes for the full day and pay £5 for one children’s hire. Offer must be pre-booked by calling 01434 250 532.

Kielder Water & Forest Park, which spans 250 square miles, is home to the largest forest in England and the largest man-made lake in northern Europe. It was voted the most tranquil place in England by the Campaign to Protect Rural England. For more information go to www.visitkielder.com.

‘Like’ Kielder Water & Forest Park on Facebook - www.facebook.com/kielder

For more information contact Philippa Clark, communications advisor (Kielder Water & Forest Park), on 0191 301 5538, 07970 897 756 or philippa.clark@nwl.co.uk.

Kielder Reservoir is the largest man-made lake in northern Europe and is capable of holding 200 billion litres of water. It has a shoreline of 27 miles and is 170 feet at its deepest point (taller than Nelson’s Column). Following many years of planning it was built at a cost of £167million and was officially opened by Her Majesty the Queen in 1982.

When completed, the Kielder Water Scheme was one of the largest and most forward looking projects of its time. The first example in the UK of a regional water grid, it was designed to meet the demands of the north east well into the future.

The scheme is a regional transfer system designed to allow water from Kielder Reservoir in the north west to be released into the Rivers Tyne, Derwent, Wear and Tees. This water is used to maintain minimum flow levels at times of low natural rainfall and allows additional flows to be released for both domestic and industrial use.

Electricity generation is also a by-product of the release of water into the river. Two hydro-electric generators installed at Kielder dam convert latent energy into electricity for the nation grid. A water release of 1,300 million litres a day can produce enough power to illuminate a town about the size of Hexham (population approximately 11,000). Kielder Reservoir can provide up to 909 million litres a day, nearly as much as all the other sources in the region added together.

In close consultation with the Environment Agency, which sets the release regime for the reservoir, water releases are used to encourage migratory salmon and sea trout to move up the river to spawn. It can also be used to help resolve problems these fish encounter with shallow flows in the lower stretches of the Tyne or in emergencies when a pollution incident has occurred downstream.

The local community has also benefited through job creation and an influx of around 300,000 tourists per year who use the area for recreation.

For further information about the workings of the reservoir visit www.nwl.co.uk.

Kielder Water & Forest Park Development Trust is a registered charity working at Kielder to promote sustainable development, provide recreational facilities, improve knowledge of the natural environment and encourage the arts. The Trust works with the range of communities to benefit from these activities.

Members, who have appointed directors/trustees to serve on the board, are Northumbrian Water, Forestry Commission, Calvert Trust Kielder and Northumberland County Council. Affiliate organisations that are not members but have a close working relationship with KWFPDT include Arts Council England, Northumberland Wildlife Trust, Environment Agency, The Scout Association and local decision making bodies such as the parish councils.

We use cookies on our website. By continuing to browse our website, you are agreeing to use our cookies. Terms and Conditions