The Nick
Art Kielder Northumberland

The Nick

Art In Kielder, Northumberland

A piece of public art providing seating, shelter and a belta view over North Tyne Valley.

Trundling over the Kielder Drive and bobbling about missing the potholes, it's all eyes to the skies, searching for raptors. The jury was out on whether our spot was just a buzzard or indeed a rarer hen harrier, but rounding the head of the hill at Blakehope Nick, the highest point on the hillside, there's no disputing this piece of modern sculpture, known as The Nick.

This contorted wooden spasm of a sculpture sits adjunct to the landscape, an obscure twist of timbers, which makes you stop in your tracks to explore.

This piece was designed in 2018 by students from Newcastle University's School of Architecture who worked in Partnership with Redesdale residents as part of the very exciting Revitalising Redesdale Project which celebrated 100 years of forestry in the area in 2019 and is part of the Kielder Art and Architecture trail.

Few places in Northumberland are quite as remote as this. Stepping out onto the wooden boardwalk, you are afforded a perspective on the many changing panoramas of this place, from big skies to cotton grass bog, heather hassock and wildflower tussock to a glance of Northumberland's wild goats if you're lucky. A small herd tumbled out of undergrowth complete with kids and a big bad Daddy goat. Maybe it was 'cause we were trip, trip, trapping on his Nick!

On entering the structure you're pulled in different directions by the multitude of views available. We could see the circular radar station high up on Deadwater Fell, the old quarry opposite which was used to build the road of the Forest Drive back in 1973 when it opened, and the star-studded Kielder Observatory slightly south. Stealing a moment in the silence and looking out over Kielder Head you can hear the mellifluous cry of curlew and the liquid chatter of goldfinch. In the summer months, this is home to the large heath butterfly. It's an out of the way home to quiet rarities.

Made of larch, a quick growing conifer in the forest, and a favourite of red squirrels, the trees produce wood which works well in building projects such as this. The piece offers a literal framework to the vistas and is dotted with integrated seats to spend time soaking up the atmosphere (with the wind whipping round your ears!)

Larch is used in the formidable, harsh weather of remote border landscapes and responds better to these whippy winds than us mortals. It will stand strong right through the rain beaten night when were tucked up in our beds, and in for the long haul of snow and sweltering summers, scorched on a weatherbeaten hillside and still looks shiny new and untouched, if a little silver round its joints.

Designed as a shelter, The Nick is based on a series of 23 pentagonal frames which slightly rotate. It feels like being inside a kaleidoscope, that could be turned and the view swapped then swapped again, its sharp angles offering ever more.

The Nick is like a little stop off, a way marker that shows the centre point of the 12 mile drive connecting the remote communities of Kielder and Byrness. This road was carved out on the hillside to allow foresters to pass between the villages and to harvest trees high on the hills. It's now passable by people like us and provides a unique insight into the life of a working forest and all its flora and fauna.

Whatever the weather, we always have to halt at The Nick and soak up the sunshine, find our way in the fog or retrace our footsteps in the snow. It's a really beautiful place that punctuates the landscape and makes us view it in so many ways which is wildly remote yet comfortably connecting. If you're in the area, there are many great places to visit like The Source of The River North Tyne, Hindhope Linn or The Three Kings Stone Circle

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How To Find The Nick

Where Is The Nick?

Show Place On Google Maps

Lat / Long

55.278797, -2.453101

What three words

slamming.inflating.cooks

Where To Park For The Nick?

The Nick is situated on the Kielder Forest Drive half way between Kielder Castle in the west and Blakehopeburnhaugh on the A68 in the east. The road is unsealed and in places covered with loose stone. Keeping to the 15mph speed limit is advised. The drive is remote with no mobile phone coverage. You can park on the roadside next to the sculpture.

Contributed by Jos Forester-Melville

Highland loving human. Thalassophile. I love a good smile. Happiest heading for the hills with my pickup filled with kids and dogs! Working four days, we enjoy a Fridate, and usually spend it scouting out new scenery. I love a gated track, a bit of off roading and if it involves a full ford, well, that gets extra points! I go nowhere without a flask and binoculars, and love the small things in life that make it big…Goldcrests, dry stone walls, Deadman’s fingers, blackberries and quality clouds.

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Jos Forester-Melville

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The Nick was listed in Art // Northumberland // Kielder