Share your Bolam Lake memories

Members of the Friends of Bolam Lake group at the site. Picture by Jane Coltman.
Members of the Friends of Bolam Lake group at the site. Picture by Jane Coltman.

A Northumberland location that continues to be a popular place for a day out in the countryside will soon reach a significant milestone.

And to mark the 200th anniversary of work beginning on Bolam Lake, a group of volunteers are calling on those who have enjoyed visits to the beauty spot to share their memories.

Originally part of a small country estate, the lake and its associated woodland was acquired by Northumberland County Council in 1972 in recognition of its recreation potential.

Bolam Lake Country Park is noted for its exceptionally rich flora and fauna and red squirrels, roe deer, great spotted woodpeckers and nuthatches have been spotted in the area.

It is considered to be an ideal place for dog walking, educational visits and recreational groups.

The Friends of Bolam Lake is dedicated to promoting, protecting and preserving the site and as part of the anniversary activities, it is asking current and former visitors to get in touch with anecdotes and reasons why they think it is such an enjoyable place.

“Thousands of people have gone to Bolam Lake over the years and many of the people we’ve already spoken to about our plans to collect people’s memories of the place have been able to recall a story or two relating to a visit to the park,” said group member Richard Cansdale.

“People from across the North East have been here and we’ve met couples from Sunderland in recent years.

“But some people in Northumberland are still unaware of this beauty spot, so the activities for the 200th anniversary are a good opportunity to raise its profile.

“We love the lake and hopefully we will hear from many others who have enjoyed visiting the park.”

His wife Sue added: “Bolam Lake is a great natural environment and it gives you the opportunity to experience peace and tranquillity in the woods as you have the freedom of knowing that you are not treading on anyone’s land.”

The activities that will take place in the months ahead include the planting of 200 trees, celebration days, information walks and special talks.

The visitor centre at the park has a cafe, shop and information area. The centre and cafe are open from 10.30am to 4pm at weekends, bank holidays and school holidays from Easter to November.

From December to Easter, they are open from 10.30am but close earlier at weekends and during school holidays. They are fully accessible.

Friends of Bolam Lake member John Petch said: “We really come into play when there’s a problem as we stand up for the staff and the facilities here.”

According to the Northumberland historian John Hodgson, the owner of Bolam estate at the time (Lord Decies) ‘to give employment to the poor in the scarce and disastrous winters of 1816 and 1817 converted the splashy lands of Bolam Bog into a fair expanse of water’.

The dam at the eastern end of the lake was designed by John Dobson of Newcastle, the famous architect, who had just begun his illustrious career.

He also designed the layout of the plantations around the lake. Control of access was very rigid for many years, but gradually this situation changed. During the 1960s, Bolam Lake became a well-known beauty spot as the owners no longer discouraged people from entering their private land.

However, as the number of visitors became excessive in relation to a relatively small area, the site began to suffer and the owners decided to sell the site.

For more information about sending the group your stories, call Richard Cansdale on 01670 772214 or email rcansdale@gmail.com