Castle Lake is without doubt Bishop Middleham's jewel in the crown and rightly deserves a place on any birdwatchers itinerary.
Apart from the numerous wildfowl and waders that frequent the lake throughout the year, the surrounding farmland and woodland provide more variety and with a little effort sixty or more species can be seen.
With the generous support of local landowners, the Durham Bird Club are to be congratulated on recognising the sites potential and for managing it for the benefit of breeding birds.
An excellent hide exists on the west side, keys costing £6, and available to non-members, can be obtained from the bird club's conservation officer John Olley. More details at http://www.durhambirdclub.org/ .
The lake lies just south of the village, which itself is accessed along a minor road leading from the A177 halfway between Sedgefield and Coxhoe.
Car parking is suggested on either the grassy triangle at the end of Foumarts Lane (NZ326313) http://www.streetmap.co.uk/map.srf?x=432650&y=531350&z=0&sv=nz326313&st=5&mapp=map.srf&searchp=ids.srf
or behind the church (NZ327312) http://www.streetmap.co.uk/map.srf?x=432750&y=531250&z=0&sv=nz327312&st=5&mapp=map.srf&searchp=ids.srf
From either parking spot walk south and the lake will soon become apparent just beyond a small sewage works. It is possible to circumnavigate your way around the lake following public footpaths, but for obvious reasons there is no access to any section of the shoreline.
Rare and scarce birds seen in recent years include Bean Goose, Red-crested Pochard, Black-necked Grebe, White Stork, Black Stork, Common Crane, Wilson's Phalarope, Pectoral Sandpiper, Black Tern and Red-rumped Swallow.
Enjoy your visit and don't forget to submit your sightings to the county recorder.