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NEWS RELEASE No: 159614 JUNE 2013

Kielder Water and Forest Park is celebrating its gold award for Best Tourism Experience in England (Visit England) with the launch of its Osprey viewing area

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Osprey chicks being ringed in Kielder Water and Forest Park, 2010

Kielder Water and Forest Park in Kielder Northumberland has been awarded Gold, in the Tourism Experience of the Year at the Visit England Awards for Excellence 2013.

The honour is a great achievement and signifies that the visitor attraction has demonstrated that it is the best in English tourism.

Kielder Water and Forest Park, which spans 250 square miles, is home to the largest forest in England (managed by the Forestry Commission) and the largest man-made lake (managed by Northumbrian Water) in northern Europe. It was voted the most tranquil place in England by the Campaign to Protect Rural England.

The area has three visitor centres; Tower Knowe, Leaplish and the recently refurbished Kielder Castle ensuring there is plenty to explore and see.

One of the highlights of the forest park is the recolonisation of Ospreys.

This weekend will see the opening of the Osprey viewing area at Leaplish Waterside Park, which is open from 11.00am to 4.30pm at weekends and on Wednesdays, although not on Wednesday 29 May  because the watch will be open on Bank Holiday Monday 27 May instead.

The viewing area is manned by volunteers in partnership with Northumberland Wildlife Trust. Visitors, who make the trip to Kielder, can view the birds and the chicks once they have hatched and learn about the Ospreys.

The Forestry Commission helped to install the nesting platforms in key locations attractive to ospreys and they have returned this year, the fourth in succession. The Forestry Commission also manages the protection of the birds and helps the public to learn more about the birds with a live camera feed from the nests to screens located in Kielder Castle and Leaplish Waterside Park allowing visitors and bird lovers to get close to the ospreys without disturbing them. There is also an exhibition at Kielder Castle of the Ospreys.

Members from Kielder Water and Forest Park Development Trust, including Alex MacLennan, Recreation and Public Affairs Manager for the North East Forestry Commission, were presented with the award by John Pelton, Head of Efficiency Challenge Programme at CH2M Hill - the sponsors of the event, and James Berresford, Chief Executive of Visit England, at the ceremony, held at Lancashire Cricket Club in Old Trafford, Manchester.

Alex said:

“We are delighted to receive this award, it is a tremendous acknowledgement for the work that we all carry out on the site, both staff and volunteers. We are going from strength to strength and look forward to welcoming back people familiar with the site as well as new visitors. We have so much to offer and now is a great time to come with the returning Ospreys.”

Kielder Water & Forest Park is also a centre for cycling and a great place to either hire a bike for a family day out or for the more adventurous to try out your skills on the mountain biking trials area or on the single track trail. It is the largest mountain bike network in England.

For more information go to

‘Like’ Kielder Water & Forest Park on Facebook -

Follow Kielder Water & Forest Park on Twitter - @visitkielder

To find out more about the Forestry Commission at Kielder visit

To find out more about the Ospreys visit the blog at

To find out more about the Visit England Awards visit


Media contact: Margaret Bennett or Richard Hector Jones at Creative Concern on 0161 236 0600

Forestry Commission contact: Alex MacLennan (

Tel:01434 221004 / 07917 267183)

Notes to editor:
Kielder Water & Forest Park Development Trust is a registered charity working to develop the Park as an inspirational place. It aims to improve economic, social and environmental sustainability, provide public recreation and leisure facilities, facilitate education in all aspects of the natural environment and advance art and architecture in the Park. 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

Kielder Osprey Watch 2013 is organised by the Kielder Water & Forest Park Development Trust Northumberland Wildlife Trust. The partners are working hard to ensure that the ospreys are here to stay by maintaining a high quality habitat in Kielder Water & Forest Park and safeguarding and monitoring the

nest site. 

Historically ospreys lived in Northumberland, hunting on the once

extensive network of marshes. Accounts written in the 1700s refer to the presence of `fish eating hawks’ locally. However, until 2009 there were no records of the bird breeding in the county for well over two centuries. The Kielder Water & Forest Park ospreys are thought to originate from the expanding Scottish population.  Ospreys were once distributed widely, but persecution resulted in the species becoming extinct in England as a breeding bird in 1840 and in Scotland in 1916. Some birds re-colonised Scotland in the 1950s and by 2001 there were nearly 160 breeding pairs (today about 200). The same year saw the first successful osprey nests in England for 160 years by re-colonising birds in

the Lake District and re-introduced ones at Rutland Water in the East Midlands.
Osprey fact file:
• Ospreys  are migratory and arrive in late March and April. They leave again for Africa in August and September.

• The  bird  of prey is an Amber List species because of its historical decline  (due  to  illegal  killing  and  egg theft) and low breeding numbers.

• Ospreys  normally breed for the first time when they are aged between three and five years old.

• They  are  largely  monogamous and strongly faithful both to nest and mate.

• The  nest  is  generally  built on the top of a large tree, usually a conifer.

• Females lay two or three eggs at one to three day intervals which are incubated for 37 days per egg.

• Ospreys divide the nesting duties  between  the  pair.  The female does most of the incubating, brooding and  direct  feeding  of  the  young. 

She guards them throughout the nesting  period  and  will share the

hunting at later stages when the chicks  are  larger.  The  male is the

major provider of fish for the female and chicks. Chicks fledge about

seven weeks after hatching.

Northumberland Wildlife Trust is the largest environmental charity in the

region working to safeguard native wildlife. One of 47 Wildlife Trusts

across the UK, Northumberland Wildlife Trust has campaigned for nature

conservation for over 40 years. It aims to inform, educate and involve

people of all ages and backgrounds in protecting their environment in

favour of wildlife and conservation. Supported by over 13,000 individual

and 56 corporate members in the Region, Northumberland Wildlife Trust

manages and protects critical species and habitats at over 60 nature

reserves throughout Newcastle, North Tyneside and Northumberland.