Bolam Lake Country Park lies about nine miles west of Morpeth and is signposted off the A696 from Belsay.
It’s situated in the heart of the beautiful Northumberland countryside, surrounded by historic landscapes and dramatic views. It has lakeside, woodland and open grassed areas for all to enjoy, with the attractive lakeside walk being accessible for wheelchairs and pushchairs.
About Bolam Lake Country Park
For many years, Bolam Lake has been a popular place for a day in the countryside. Take a leisurely stroll around the lake or explore the woodland. Bring a picnic and enjoy a summer's day with the family or explore and discover the wildlife which makes Bolam Lake so special. Red squirrels, roe deer, great spotted woodpeckers and nuthatches have been spotted in the area.
You'll find a number of picnic tables in the main picnic area. The best access to the Pheasant Field is from West Wood car park. Please take your rubbish and your barbecue home with you and do not scorch the grass or wooden surfaces.
A permanent orienteering course exists in the park. Why not give this exciting outdoor pursuit a try? Maps and guidance notes are available at the visitor centre.
Bolam is an ideal place for educational visits and recreational groups, although staff time is not normally available to assist groups directly. If you intend to bring a large group, please inform the staff in advance.
The Bolam Lake friends group are dedicated to promoting, protecting and preserving the park. You can find further information about the friends group here.
No overnight camping is allowed.
The lake is not suitable for swimming due to submerged hazards and deep mud. The lake is suitable for rigid canoes but sailing, motorised and inflatable craft are not allowed. Organised canoeing groups must book their visit and obtain a permit from the visitor centre in advance.
The best access to the lake for canoes is from Low House Wood car park. Boats are not allowed in the nature sanctuary or to land on the islands. Canoeing is not allowed from 15 March to 15 June inclusive.
Fishing for pike and perch is allowed but anglers must have a rod licence and obtain a permit from the shop in Belsay. There is no fishing from boats or in the nature sanctuary. There is a closed season from 15 March to 15 June inclusive.
Night fishing is not permitted.
Public transport to Bolam Lake
Bolam Lake visitor centre
The visitor centre has a café, shop and information area. The café sells a range of hot and cold refreshments, including soup, cakes and sweets. The shop has local information and sells a range of gifts, books and maps.
The visitor centre and café are open from 10.30am-4pm at weekends, bank holidays and school holidays from Easter to November. From December to Easter it is open from 10.30am but closes earlier at weekends and during school holidays. It is fully accessible.
Toilets are located in the Boathouse Wood car park next to the visitor centre and are open daily.
Car parking at Bolam Lake
The three car parks are open during daylight hours and locked at dusk and are free of charge. Each car park has disabled parking bays. You are advised not to leave valuables in your vehicle.
Please ensure that your vehicle is removed from the car park by the closing time stated on the car park notices.
Getting around Bolam Lake
Feel free to explore the park on foot, but please respect boundaries and don't climb fences. The lakeside path is surfaced and suitable for wheelchairs and pushchairs, for which the circuit of the lake is best done in an anti-clockwise direction and is approximately 3/4 mile long.
Horse riders and cyclists: please use only the marked bridleway and give way to walkers.
The park is a great place for walking dogs but dog walkers are encouraged to keep dogs under control and to be considerate towards other park users by clearing away dog faeces into the bins provided.
If walking dogs near the park boundary or on the rights of way outside the park, extra care should be taken to keep dogs under close control to avoid worrying farm stock.
Please respect the breeding season (spring and early summer) on the lake by keeping dogs under control near waterfowl.
Bolam Lake - safety information
- Life buoys and throw lines are positioned around the lake.
- In winter, do not walk on the frozen lake surface.
Out and about beyond Bolam Lake
A good network of public rights of way around the park offers half or full day circular walks. Our series of self-guided trails are on sale from the visitor centre. Large walking groups are requested not to park in Boathouse Wood car park, especially at weekends and during the summer months.
Bolam Lake - contact information
The Bolam@200 Project funded by Heritage Lottery Fund
Bolam Lake Country Park
Owned and managed by Northumberland County Council
1816 was a momentous year - there was a regency as it was thought George 111 was insane, Napoleon was in captivity following the defeat at Waterloo and large numbers of men some disabled by the war were sent home. It is believed that John Beresford, Lord Decies owner of the land around Bolam village was moved to try to help those men and the rural population gain employment by creating his own pleasure ground. His plan was to dig the ground known locally as Bolam Bog or Bolam Splashes into a picturesque lake and plant the ground around with trees for his own personal use.
Lord Decies we believe was aware that the local architect John Dobson was working in the area at Belsay Hall and commissioned him to create his lake for him. Lord Decies employed locals paying them 1 shilling a day and unusually it was up to them if they wanted to return the next day. The work started in 1816 taking two years to complete with the woodlands being planted in 1819
In January 2016 Northumberland County Council applied to the Heritage Lottery Fund for a heritage based project that would enhance the Visitor experience and understanding of the creation of the lake by John Dobson. This proved successful and included ;
- Planting of 200 trees
- Improvements to the lakeside path
- New site interpretation panels, history guide and trail leaflet
- Series of public events
- A celebration day
- Education programme with local schools
- Visitor survey
- Research into John Dobsons involvement at Bolam
A number or resources were created and below are the links to the following
John Dobson Panel
Bolam Interpretation Booklet
Bolam Wildlife Panel
Some memories of Bolam lake over the 20 years were also collected, below are a few.
The Foster Family