Strolling, stargazing and stunning views.
FoodSome provided. Details below
Difficulty LevelsMultiple options available
1 - 2
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.
Stargazing Weekend Dates
- Friday 6th Dec – Sunday 8th Dec 2019
- Friday 17th Jan – Sunday 19th Dec 2020
- Friday 31st Jan – Sunday 2nd Feb 2020
- Friday 16th – Sunday 18th Oct 2020
- Friday 30th Oct – Sunday 1st Nov 2020
- Friday 27th – Sunday 29th Nov 2020
- Friday 11th – Sunday 13th Dec 2020
- Friday 22nd – Sunday 24th Jan 2021
- Friday 29th – Sunday 31st Jan 2021
- Friday 19th – Sunday 21st Feb 2021
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 will enjoy a social group meal in the bunkhouse, which is the perfect change to meet your fellow Stargazers.
Our walk today may 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.
We may also walk direct from the hostel and explore the lovely Tyne Valley and Hareshaw Waterfall.
Although a little shorter than our normal Saturday walks, we’ll still be out for 5-6 hours, and 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). Please note you will need to drive to the Observatory but we will aim to car share and take as few vehicles as possible.
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.
Good to know:
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!
Arriving by Public Transport:
Nearest Train Station: Hexham
Taxi Collection: We will be offering a station collection at 6pm, this costs £10 and must be booked at least 48 hours in advance. To book this simply purchase a ticket from this page.
Bus: There is a bus from the train station, number 680. You can view the current timetable here…
Taxi: A taxi from Hexham Station is roughly £35.
Car shares / taxi share or travel buddy: If you are attending this trip then please use the Large Outdoors Facebook Members page to request or look for travel buddies.
Sunday Drop Off:
As the walk on Sunday ends near Hadrian’s Wall more often than not people will be travelling past Hexham and can you a lift. Failing this there is a regular bus service from the Sill direct to Hexham Station. We would always suggest if you need to book a ticket that you book no earlier than 4pm, an open ticket is always a better option.
How many walk options are offered?
For this trip there will be just one walk on offer and this will be a gentle and easy walk in the local area.
- 2 nights bunkhouse accommodation, please note bedding is supplied but you will need a towel
- 2 days of guided day walks
- An evening at Kielder Observatory.
- Welcome meal on the Friday plus evening meal on Saturday. Breakfasts and packed lunch for Saturday.
- 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.
Please note we do not supply transport to and from the Observatory this is about a 20 minute drive from hostel and we will ask people to car share to the observatory.
Age Limit: You must be over 18 to attend this trip, there is no upper age limit.
Dogs: I am afraid dogs are not allowed on this trip, unless they are registered assistance dogs.
Arrival Time: 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.
Solo Travellers: This trip is perfect for solo travellers and although couples and small groups of friends are always welcome the majority of people do attend on their own.
Alcoholic Drinks: We do not supply any alcohol for this trip but you are welcome to bring your own drinks to enjoy over the weekend.
Kit lists – You can view our kit lists here…
FAQ’s – For important information on what’s included with our standard trips, such as what food we supply, arrival times and answer to our most commonly asked questions please visit out our FAQ’s page
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What our members have to say...
Well, for a non-walker it was certainly challenging but my word was it exhilarating! The feeling of achievement after every day, was just fabulous. The group we went with were all strangers on day one, but firm friends by the end of the week. The comradery on some of the tougher walks, helped me to the top…..and wow what views. Anyone thinking of doing it - don’t worry….just go for it!ClaireMember Since 2016
“I didn’t really know what to expect on my first ever walking holiday and wasn’t very prepared if truth be known – lesson to all read the essential kit list especially waterproofs! It was great fun and what a lovely group of supportive and encouraging people, especially Gareth who did a great job looking after us all. I must admit at times I found it a bit challenging but what a great sense of achievement when we reached the top of the mountains (hills) I will definitely do this again.ElizabethMember Since 2016
My first Large Outdoors and (Ulster & the Giant's Causeway Walking Weekend) Irish experience was absolutely fantastic. Everything was organised perfectly and Gareth is a joy to be around. I loved every minute and will definitely book myself onto another trip. #toldallmyfriendstheyhavetocomeVanessaMember Since 2018