Strolling, stargazing and stunning views.
FoodSome provided. Details below
Difficulty Level2 Two
A weekend of walking and socialising in Northumberland. You’re going to be star struck this weekend (literally) as we’re combining great walking with a spot of astro tourism in the heart of Northumberland’s Dark Skies Park.
With official gold-tier recognition by the International Dark Sky Association, Northumberland is one of the best places in England for stargazing.
So, with stunning walks around Hadrian’s Wall and an immaculate, cosy bunkhouse as a base, we’ve compiled an itinerary that also includes an evening spent at Kielder’s Observatory for an out-of-this-world adventure.
In a nutshell:
- Feel invigorated having walked through some fine scenic and historic landscape including following a section of Hadrian’s Wall.
- Be amazed at the wonder of the dark skies at Kielder’s Observatory.
- Feel relaxed as you make yourself at home in a spacious converted stone barn.
- Tuck in to some great tasting food prepared for you.
About the Area:
Northumberland Dark Sky Reserve
Northumberland is fantastic for exploring, both during the day time and at night. The National Park is the 3rd largest protected Dark Sky reserve in the world.
In the heart of the stunning Kielder Forest is the observatory which makes it a perfect place to watch in wonder as the magic of our dark sky comes into view.
On a clear night you can stand and stare from the observation deck at a sky filled with billions of stars and the Milky Way arching overhead. Inside, powerful telescopes and knowledgeable astronomists open up a world of planets, galaxies and star clusters.
During the day, there’s an infinite number of beautiful walks with the heritage of Hadrian’s Wall adding a further layer of interest alongside awe-inspiring scenery.
Feel free to arrive any time after 5pm. As soon as you step through the door of Demesne and into the living room which is ideal for chilling out, you’ll fall under the spell of the weekend.
With our Large Outdoors host greeting and introducing you to your walking buddies, it will be easy to slip into relaxation-mode. Tonight we head out to a pub in the lovely village of Bellingham for a meal and a pint which will set us up nicely for the following day.
Our walk today takes us through Kielder Forest, an area that is often overlooked as walkers rush to get to Scotland and yet it offers beautiful, varied scenery. The route will take us through the forest and onto the surrounding moorland before dipping back down to Kielder Water’s shoreline.
Although a little shorter than our normal Saturday walks, it allows us time to get back to the bunkhouse in time to freshen up and enjoy an early evening meal.
It’s then time to go stargazing at Kielder Observatory (NB: entry to the Observatory is included in the price of this weekend). Here we join ‘A Universe Full Of Stars’ event. After an enlightening talk on astronomy, we’re treated to a tour of the Observatory before getting a chance to peek at the stars through the powerful telescopes.
Amazing gazing will be in the offing if we have clear skies when you can expect to see distant galaxies, the Milky Way and star clusters.
With experts on-hand there is plenty of time to ask questions, have a go at the big telescopes and marvel at the stars. They also serve a rather cracking hot chocolate.
After a leisurely breakfast we leave the bunkhouse and head out to explore one of Northumberland’s most famous landmarks.
It’s time to come down to earth as we’re off to the wall, Hadrian’s Wall.
We head 20-minutes’ south and strike out, joining the wall at Housesteads, one of the most complete parts of the wall and offering, in our opinion, one of the finest views in Northumberland.
The wall is one of Britain’s greatest heritage sights and alongside the gorgeous scenery there will no doubt be much marveling at just how skilled the Romans were to construct the landmark.
Walk over, we had to the nearest pub for our obligatory Sunday lunch as a fitting end to the weekend’s events
Who will be looking after you...
We didn’t think a bunkhouse would ever have the ‘wow’ factor but the one at Demesne Farm certainly warrants such a tag. The converted stone barn retains main characterful features while providing spacious, yet cosy accommodation for groups.
With its large arch windows, wood burning stove and plenty of comfy seats, the living room is a great spot for relaxing, either carrying on conversations started over dinner, or simply finding a quiet corner to curl up with a book.
Demesne is located in Bellingham which is worth wandering through and has numerous delightful short walks radiating out from the village if you need more fresh air!
You are welcome to arrive any time from 5pm onwards and settle in before we serve an evening meal at about 8pm. Please let us know if you intend arriving after 10pm.
For this weekend we provide the following meals: evening meals on both Friday and Saturday, breakfasts, and a packed lunch for Saturday’s walk. On the Sunday, we usually head to a local pub or café for lunch which is not included in the price of the weekend.
As well as meals, we also provide a variety of complimentary soft drinks and beverages – tea & coffee which includes herbal, fruit and decaffeinated options and fruit squashes.
We do not supply alcohol but you are welcome to bring your own.
This is offered on a single sex shared room basis. All bedding is provided but you will need to bring a towel.
Travelling to your Stargazing Weekend:
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What our members have to say...
I love the concept of the Large Outdoors weekends and I like to have at least one or two booked for the future, to have something to look forward to. A weekend trip finds me visiting some fabulous parts of the country: Northumberland, Dorset, Brecon Beacons, Lake District, North York Moors... hills, mountains, moors and coast - all well covered by the amazing choice of locations to pick from, with decent (or lovely!) accommodation, great food and qualified walk leaders. They're also very good value.Sue LangfordMember since 2008
Since my first Large Outdoors weekend I have rediscovered my love for the countryside, met so many great people and had a whole lot of fun. I've sailed around the Inner Hebrides on a luxurious yacht, climbed the 3 national peaks Snowdon, Ben Nevis and Scafel Pike, danced my socks off at the Halloween and New Year celebrations and fallen in love with the beautiful Isle of Skye. Every trip has been amazing fun and I have met so many lovely people and made friends for life. Cheers Large Outdoors!Karen RobertsMember Since 2012
I have been joining Large Outdoors on their outdoor adventures for many years now. I wasn’t always an active person and as a self-confessed city dweller I never thought I would appreciate so much of what is on offer when you leave the suburbs behind you. Large Outdoors has not only made me appreciate what natural beauty is on our door step, it has also given me the confidence to challenge myself and see things differently.Shad EverettMember since 2009
I have attended Large Outdoors weekends for the last two years , achieving many challenges in the British countryside. Every weekend has been very well organised, in beautiful locations, wonderful walks, nutritious food with lovely people.
I have learned new skills and gained confidence in the outdoors from the mountain leaders. I thoroughly enjoy every weekend and always look forward to the next.Elizabeth BrooksMember Since 2014
I thoroughly enjoyed the experience from beginning to end. The host Kendra was very welcoming upon arrival at the youth hostel, all walkers and climbers were friendly and we got on great as a group. The home cooked food was amazing and the idea of 'kitchen angels' worked really well. The rock climbing instructor and his son were brilliant and helped us all, providing constant guidance and encouragement.Penny GraingerMember Since 2016