Robinson Memorial
Landmark Kielder Northumberland

Robinson Memorial

Landmark In Kielder, Northumberland

A remote memorial cairn to Lord Robinson who was instrumental in forming the British Forestry Commission and Kielder Forest.

Situated down a fire break in a remote spot in the heart of Kielder Forest, the Robinson Memorial is less well known and requires a long walk to reach. For those seeking peace and tranquility, a trip to the Robinson Memorial delivers it.

The sandstone cairn stands as a memorial to Roy Robinson who would become Lord Robinson, Baron of Kielder Forest and Adelaide.

Lord Robinson was born in Macclesfield, South Australia. In his early life he studied mining engineering and received a scholarship to study in Oxford, where he graduated with a first class honors in geology and obtained a diploma in forestry. In 1909 he was appointed as assistant inspector for forestry at the Board of Agriculture and Fisheries. In this role he began to build an extensive knowledge of the forests and forestry in Britain. He'd later be responsible for the report which led to the establishment of the Forestry Commission in 1919 whereupon he was appointed as its technical commissioner. In 1929 he became vice-chairman and then chairman in 1932 until his death in 1952.

The Memorial Cairn is adorned by a plaque which reads:

"To the memory of


Baron Robinson of Kielder Forest and Adelaide

A member of the Forestry Commission from its

inception in 1919 and its chairman from 1932-1952

Born 8th March 1883. Died 5th September 1952.

His ashes are scattered in this forest which owes

its existence to his creative energy and vision."

The Royal Scottish Forestry Society reported that the memorial was unveiled on Tuesday 29 September 1953 by the Earl of Radnor who was the chairman of the Forestry Commissioners. Lord Robinson died in Canada, but despite this, his ashes were brought back to Britain and as the memorial sets out they were scattered around Kielder Forest. The cairn has stood for over 70 years. It's age shows as it is now covered in moss and even flowers!

In the North, East Lord Robinson will be best remembered for the role he played in the establishment of Kielder Forest, England's largest forest (and also home to the biggest man-made lake in Northern Europe).

During World War One Britain faced a shortage of timber. In response one of the roles of the Forestry Commission was to rebuild timber stocks in the country. The area of moorland around Kielder Castle (an 18th century hunting lodge belonging to the Duke of Northumberland) was identified by Lord Robinson as suitable for forestry. He was involved in the original trial planting in the area and after decades of trials, large scale planting finally begun in the 1930s. The first mature trees were not felled until after the end of World War II.

It is documented that Lord Robinson was present at the first tree planting at Smale (near Falstone) in 1926 and returned in 1948 to see the first trees cut down for thinning. Clearly Kielder was a special place to him.

Kielder Forest now spans some 250 square miles with around 150 million trees. Every winter/spring three and a half million trees are planted to replace the ones which are cut down. Some of the numbers involved are hard to comprehend!

Anyone visiting Kielder Forest will be aware that most of the trees you can ordinarily see are the same. Kielder is predominately made up of conifers with around 75% of the forest covered by Sitka Spruce. There is also other species like Norway Spruce and Lodgepole Pine (around 9% of the forest) with the rest made up of Scots Pine, Larch, Douglas Fir and broadleaves. There is more of an effort to establish more native trees by the Forestry Commission and at the time of writing the walk to the memorial passes by one such an area. There's also a larger rewilding project called Kielderhead Wildwood which is led by Northumberland Wildlife Trust and Forestry England.

As mentioned the walk to the memorial is a long one, though it is good underfoot. The nearest public parking is either at Elf Kirk or Tower Knowe. The route we took was from Tower Knowe, following the Lakeside Way (a route which runs around the entirety of Kielder Water) to Whickhope. From Whickhope we cut up on to the main road before following the first left hand turn which effectively keeps rising up hill until you eventually reach the metal sign directing you to the cairn. The cairn is then situated on a short walk through heather and tussocks in a fire break. It eventually comes into a view in a quiet and lonely spot surrounded by trees.

Alternatively you could cycle the majority of the distance and then walk the last few hundred metres.

As someone who has visited and visits Kielder a lot, a chance to visit the memorial to the individual who was so instrumental in its creation was something hard to miss. Those who take the long walk will be rewarded with a real sense of scale of the forest, some stunning views across to the lofty hills of Deadwater Fell (with its unmistakable masts) and Monkside, as well as Kielder Water. On our visit it was a clear day and we were able to spy the Cheviot hills!

You can use the route below if walking from Tower Knowe. It's an out and back route so simply retrace your steps! It's good going underfoot on the Lakeside Way and Forestry tracks but was a bit squelchy and bouncy on the approach to the memorial cairn!

A long walk but one well worth the effort for a lesser known memorial to a man whose significant impact on the area continues to live on.

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How To Find Robinson Memorial

Where Is Robinson Memorial?

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55.129082, -2.5075404

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Where To Park For Robinson Memorial?

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55.174216, 55.174216

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Parking available at either Tower Knowe or Elf's Kirk, both pay and display. It's a nearly 12 mile round walk from either spot, Elf's Kirk is marginally shorter.

Contributed by Sean Linley

A keen walker and wildlife enthusiast and dog dad originally from Leeds but a Newcastle resident for 10 years with a passion for history and heritage. Always curious about my local area and always on the lookout for something new. You’ll often find me studying the OS map for new places to explore!

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Sean Linley

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Robinson Memorial was listed in Landmark // Northumberland // Kielder