Thoughts on Kielder Forest
I’ve never been to a man-made forest as vast and impressive as Kielder. A few years ago I visited the Black Forest in Germany, full of shadows and earth and cuckoo clocks, but Kielder was different. Row upon row of sitka spruce marched across each horizon, darkened by the blue green shadow of conifer needles and interspersed with the occasional glow of oak, rowan, birch and beech. The air was still and quiet, broken only by the melancholic cry of an osprey and the distant rumble of timber trucks carrying harvested trees away into the world.
Originally planted as a timber forest in the 1920s and 30s, the forest is now also managed for recreation and wildlife, with around 50% of England’s red squirrel population living within its borders. It is so large, and with so few roads and people, that it is also being considered as a trial site for the reintroduction of the Eurasian lynx, which has been extinct in Britain 1,300 years but would help keep deer numbers down naturally. I spent two days there and got lost continually, but that was part of the fun. It’s a rare thing to feel truly lost in the UK - especially in ‘the wild’.