The 4 best walks that lead to the 'giant head sculpture' - and where to stay

Days out, Rural, Walking

Posted by Ellen Drowne on 1st September 2023

Silvashead_Shutterstock_Nick HarperImage credit: Shutterstock_Nick Harper

Typically regarded as a tranquil haven for wildlife enthusiasts and ramblers, Kielder Water and Forest Park may be less known as being home to a giant, open-mouthed head that looks like something straight out of Stranger Things. Officially named ‘Silvas Capitalis’, the hidden gem recently gained attention when it was shared on TikTok by UK Hidden Gems as “places that don’t feel real” – attracting more than 90,000 views. 

The unusual – and slightly eerie – sight is part of an art-studded trail of 22 massive sculptures in Kielder Water and Forest Park in Northumberland and is large enough for visitors to walk inside and snap a selfie – of which there are already over 18,000 on Instagram.

If you’re a fan of the strange, dark and mysterious, we’ve compiled a handy list of the four of the best Kielder Forest walks that lead you straight to Silvas Capitalis (what3words: ///deploying.penned.major). Adding to that, we’ve also handpicked three unique cottages to stay at within the forest itself – to make planning ahead even easier… You’re welcome! 

Cottages in Northumberland


Sunlight through Kielder Forest trees

1. The best walk for a flying visit 

This walk, endorsed by the Ramblers, takes you around Kielder Water and leads you along the art-studded trail, where you’ll find Silvas Capitalis.

Starting at Kielder Castle upper car park, this route will take you onto an exciting mountain bike trail, which runs alongside the lake with stunning views across the water. From Silvas Capitalis, the route will take you back through Kielder Forest, giving you the chance to get lost amongst the tranquillity of the trees around you. This route can also be adapted to make a great child-friendly day out.

Time: 2 hours

Distance: 6.5 miles

Difficulty: Easy

Toilet facilities: Yes

Dog friendly: Yes



Views over Kielder trees and water

2. The best walk for a decent amble

Perfect for twitchers, hikers and runners, this tranquil out-and-back trail is listed on AllTrails and takes you through Kielder Forest, alongside Kielder water, past the giant head sculpture and to another sculpture on the trail, Janus Chairs, another lovely viewpoint at the edge of the lake allowing for a panoramic view across the water.

Time: 4 hours

Distance: 8.6 miles

Difficulty: Moderate

Toilet facilities: No

Dog friendly: Yes 


Kielder Forest, light through trees

3. The best walk for taking in all the sights

Want a walk that will let you see all the sights? Just over 7 miles long, this stroll listed on Komoot will take you out to Silvas Capitalis but also take you to some more of the sights around Kielder itself.

The first sight you will see is Silvas Capitalis, before the route will bring you round to Kielder Viaduct, a historic bridge running across the top of Kielder Water. You’ll end the walk taking in the sights of Kielder Castle, the old 18th century hunting lodge for the Duke of Northumberland.

The majority of the route is taken on easily accessible paths, with unpaved paths only taking up just over three-quarters of a mile. Although intermediate level, this is a walk that is suitable for all skill levels.

Time: 3.5 hours

Distance: 7.2 miles

Difficulty: Intermediate

Toilet facilities: Yes

Dog friendly: Yes


Trees and water at Kielder Forest

4. The best walk for those who crave a challenge

Spanning a lengthy 13.75 miles, we would recommend taking the whole day to make sure you have enough time to walk this route, again listed on AllTrails.

This challenging route is definitely worth it, as before you get to Silvas Capitalis, you’ll be taken up to some of the highest points of Kielder Forest, giving you some great views of Kielder Water and the countryside beyond. Once you get to Silvas Capitalis, you’ll be taken back to Kielder alongside the lake via a mountain bike trail.

Time: 6 hours

Distance: 13.75 miles

Difficulty: Hard

Toilet facilities: Yes

Dog friendly: Yes


Know before you go

From what to wear, where to eat, parking, membership, facilities and so much more – including details of what’s on and any path closures – the Kielder Water Park and Forest website has all the info you need to have a fantastic visit.


Kielder Forest trackImage credit: Unsplash_@amygatenby

Where to stay

If you want to enjoy a long, relaxing self-catering holiday as part of your visit, choose one of our stunning holiday cottages as the perfect setting to rest your feet – and your head.

Kielder Castle Cottage

Kielder Castle Cottage, Kielder, Northumberland | sleeps 4 + 2 dogs

This property is located in the stunning Kielder Water and Forest Park and has amazing forest walks and cycles ways right on its doorstep.

The property consists of a spacious lounge with wood burner, sun room for planning the next adventure and two bedrooms. The first bedroom is a king-size room which has great views of the forest right outside the property, and the second features two twin beds with a lot of storage to keep all the things you need for your next forest walk.

Outside, there is an enclosed garden patio to the side with garden furniture for al fresco dining and a lockable bike shed to store your bikes overnight.

Book Kielder Castle Cottage


Kielder Kip House

Kielder Kip House, Kielder, Northumberland | sleeps 6 + 3 dogs

This property is also located in the heart of Kielder Water and Forest Park, meaning walks, cycle routes and water sports are all right on your doorstep.

The ground floor of the property features a large kitchen/diner, and a light and airy lounge with views out through the back of property and into the forest behind. Upstairs, there are three bedrooms, two king-size bedrooms and a family room that can sleep three people.

Outside, the garden offers the chance to sit back and relax, whether that be on the sun loungers, or at the patio table enjoying some al fresco dining from the BBQ.

Book Kielder Kip House


Yarrow Corner Cottages

Yarrow Corner Cottage, Yarrow, Northumberland | sleeps 4 + 2 dogs

Located at the bottom of Kielder Water and around 5 miles away from Kielder Forest, this property features stunning views across Kielder Water and Northumberland National Park.

This former shepherd’s cottage dating back 200 years retains an abundance of original character and has been extended to offer the perfect family stay. The ground floor of this property features a cosy lounge and large kitchen/diner perfect for enjoying family meals and taking in the views of the countryside. Upstairs, there are two king-size bedrooms, both of which have views over Kielder Water.

Outside, is a two-tier decking area which features a hot tub to relax and unwind after a day full of adventure. There is also a summerhouse with a sofa to enjoy tranquil views of the lake.

Book Yarrow Corner Cottage


Visit Kielder Forest

If you’re after more inspiration for your visit to Kielder Forest, then we've got a great guide to things to do in Northumberland which you can incorporate into your stay. And if you're looking for somewhere to rest in between your adventures, then click the button below to browse our collection of holiday cottages in Northumberland.

Cottages in Northumberland


Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of writing, please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.