At Kiplin Hall you’ll encounter of stories about adventure enjoyed by members of the four families who lived there – the Calverts, Crowes, Carpenters, and Talbots. We’d like to share a glimpse through the keyhole, exploring a different room each week. This week, we wander lake-side

TODAY, the lake to the rear of Kiplin Hall is a major feature of the landscape. However, it has not always been this way.

The Northern Echo:

The lake provides a habitat for many water birds, including swans

At the back of the house there had long been a smaller lake, called the serpentine lake, on which the families who lived there enjoyed boating in the summer and curling in the winter. This small lake was filled in during the Second World War to prevent the site from being easily identifiable from the air. The woods around Kiplin Hall were used to store ammunition for nearby airfields, and officers and men were billeted in the house and grounds. It was feared the hall would be a target for German bombers who would easily see the reflective surface of the lake in the moon light at night.

The Northern Echo:

Boating on the Serpentine Lake

The large lake we observe today is in actual fact the result of gravel quarrying in the 1990’s. The income from which helped to pay for the restoration of the hall. Today, the lake provides a habitat for water birds such as geese, swans and coots as well as all manner of insects and flowers.

The Northern Echo:

Aerial view of the lake and remaining quarry site in 2014

Visitors to Kiplin in early July were delighted to witness hundreds of tiny froglets on the lakeside paths. People had to tread carefully as the young frogs moved between the water and the surrounding woodland. Small children were especially delighted as they tried to catch them. Between the tiny frogs and the huge geese feathers, a walk around the lake can prove to be somewhat of a treasure hunt.

The Northern Echo:

This tiny froglet stayed long enough for a visitor photo

The lakeside path offers visitors a circular walk of about one mile. To aid social distancing the route is currently one way, but there are many resting points along the way, with benches placed to take in the best of the views over the water and back towards the hall.

Eagle-eyed visitors will also spot a range wild flowers among the reeds and grasses. In June and July, the star of the show is the small but flirtatious bee orchid, so called because the flower looks like it has a female bee resting on it. Male bees fly in to try to mate with them and end up pollinating the flowers. Sadly, the right bee species doesn’t live here in the UK, so this orchid is self-pollinated.

The Northern Echo:

Bee orchids are just one of the wild flowers growing around Kiplin

The area around the lake is now managed to encourage wild flowers wherever possible. During 2019, the Volunteer Eco Group carried out surveys of the wild flowers at Kiplin and identified 117 different species around the lake, and 68 different types were found in bloom in just one survey last July.

Kiplin Hall and Gardens is currently open Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays 10am to 5pm. Plans to open on Monday from the end of July are underway as part of a phased recovery from the lockdown.