A medium walk of about 2 miles around Bolam Lake near Belsay.
A walk around a lake, with a visitor centre and cafe.
How to get there
Postcode for Satnav - NE20 0HE
From Newcastle, take the A696 through Ponteland up to Belsay, then on the north end of the village you will see 2 roads heading off on the right. Take the second of these roads, signposted Bolam Lakes Country Park, and the park is about 2 miles further up. From Morpeth, take the B6524 road up in Loansdean that runs past the golfcourse, and follow this road right through Walton until it eventually brings you to Belsay. At Belsay, turn sharp right onto the Bolam road.
There is a car parking charge but the first hour is free.
Click here to see a detailed OS routemap of the walk. It will open in a new tab.
For a simple walk that takes about half an hour, walk down to the lake from the car park, turn left or right at the lake, then follow it around until you get back to the car park again.
For a slightly longer walk, maybe 45 minutes, take the path that leads into the woods beside the visitor centre and follow this path right around, unti it finally brings you back to the far side of the lake. You can then walk back round the lake to back to the visitor centre.
Britain was going through hard times around 1816 after an especially hard winter. Lord Decies was the local landowner at Bolam hall, and wanted to help his people out. He decided to convert a boggy area on his estate into an ornamental lake. He employed local people to do the work, paying them 1 shilling a day, or 5p to those who don't know about old money. It took two years to build the lake, then the work moved to planing out the surrounding woodland.
Lord Decies employed the architect John Dobson, then 29 years old, to design the artificial lake, with a dam at its eastern end, complete woth ornamental islands and surrounding woodland. John Dobson later designed many of the grand old buildings in Newcastle, including Newcastle Central Station and the east side of Grey Street. John had recently assisted with a redesign of Belsay hall, which was doubtless how Lord Decies knew of him.
Northumberland County Council bought the lake and some of the woodland in 1972, creating the country park.
There are tales of the Beast of Bolam Lake. Some people have reported seeing a very tall man shaped creature at night by the lake, including some paranormal investigators. However no-one has managed to take a picture of it. The beast is described at being 7-8 feet tall and covered in dark or brown hair which growls as it moves through the undergrowth and stomps so hard it makes the ground shake as it walks. The first sighting was by a group of pike fishermen in 2002 and it has been seen a few times since, always at night. The opinion is that it cannot be a real beast as there is not enough food locally to support it, so it could be some sort of paranormal creature. That theory is often linked to the iron age settlement just to the north-east of the lake. Who knows?