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Milestone for forest drive that opened Kielder to eager rovers

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Car travelling along original forest drive

Back in 1973 the country was on the brink of a three-day working week, it joined the EEC, and a catchy song was inviting people to "tie a yellow ribbon around the old oak tree".

Meanwhile, someone had the bright idea of building a spectacular, 12-mile, public road through the heart of Kielder Water & Forest Park!

On 11 May 2013 the Forestry Commission will mark the 40th anniversary of the opening of the iconic Kielder Forest Drive, the longest public forest road of its kind in England. Scores of antique vehicles from the bygone days of motoring will hit the trail as part of the annual Kielder Vintage and Classic Vehicle Show, and anyone who owns a car, motorbike or van from yesteryear is invited to join in.

The road connects Kielder village with Blakehopeburnhaugh, supposedly the longest place name in England, cresting at more than 1500 feet and traversing a wild landscape, the haunt of wild goats, deer and birds of prey.  Hardy Forestry Commission workers took many months to build the route, which provided unprecedented access to one of northern Europe's largest man-made forests. Officially opened by Lord Ridley, the first toll ticket issued cost 30p.

Alex MacLennan, the Commission's  recreation and public affairs Manager for North East England, said:

"There are few more spectacular routes to get away from it all and indulge in the joys of motoring, so we would like as many people as possible to take part.

"The forest drive rally will be one of the highlights of a vintage weekend at Kielder. Last year more than 100 vehicles ranging from motorbikes to tractors, cars and commercial vans turned up at the main event at Kielder Castle, serving up a fabulously colourful scene. It seems that for all the comforts and gadgets of modern vehicles, interest in the simpler but more distinctive machines of the past is on the rise."

If you want take part in the circular anniversary drive on 11 May or the main Kielder Castle Rally on 12 May, please contact Wesley Turnbull on 07800 853475.

Note to Editor:

  • The Forestry Commission is the government department responsible in England for protecting, expanding and promoting the sustainable management of woods and forests and increasing their value to society and the environment. Forestry makes a real contribution to sustainable development, providing social and environmental benefits arising from planting and managing attractive, as well as productive, woodlands. For more information visit

Media calls to Richard Darn on 07753 670038.