One of the reasons I started to write the blog was my sheer pride in the North East. We have, in my opinion, some of the most beautiful landscapes in the country right here on our doorstep. Where I live I’m 15 minutes from the coast, the city or the countryside. I feel really lucky to call myself a Geordie and every weekend is an adventure for us as a family.
As a student I had many research trips to Kielder Reservoir and the history behind how it came to be is fascinating. I was even fortunate enough to visit the tower valve that stands in the reservoir. These trips were always limited to the Dam end though, and never got the opportunity to wander through the forest.
One of the things I decided to do when I started to drive – I passed the test in my late 20s – was to explore more of the NE. Kielder was high on the list of places. The first time I was captivated by the beauty of the area, and now we try to visit at least once a year and cycle round the many different routes available. Even if you aren’t a regular cyclist, which we aren’t, there’s a trail suitable for your ability. If you don’t own a bike, or maybe have no way to transport it up, there’s also a cycle shop with the option to hire one for your visit. This is where we hire from, and always call in advance to ensure they have something available before we make the trip up.
Many would think that this would become boring but, like Sycamore Gap, the time of year you visit gives a different perspective. In the summer it is lovely to cycle round in the sunshine, stopping for juice or jumping on the Osprey Ferry to cut down the cycling time. In winter the frost makes the landscape look like it was dusted with glitter.
Since me & Him Indoors started to date I’ve gone on and on about how he *absolutely* had to come cycling with me up there. He’d passed through, but never properly stopped to look around. Numerous attempts to go were thwarted by hangovers, but when a cyclist friend from Switzerland announced he was popping over for the weekend I made definite plans for us all to spend the day there.
Him Indoors did some research on the bikes available and discovered there was an electric option to hire. Normally Jnr & I have relied on biscuit power to get us round the reservoir, not a battery! Raf had tried out one of these before, and was quite insistent that we hired at least one for our trip.
As our visitor is a super cyclist we worried we’d be left in his mud trail, so we hired two. As Jnr and I are roughly the same height I thought we could swap when he started to flag. We chose the Osprey Chick route, and then planned to cycle along part of the North Lakeside trail so both Raf and Coster could see some of the Art installations dotted along the route. Jnr and I always like to visit Capital Silvas, although we got a shock this time round as it appears someone was camping inside the head!
The trails were all muddy and it was very cold. My hands were red as I’d forgotten to take my gloves from the car! Thankfully we visited the day before it started to snow up there, otherwise our plans would have been spoilt. The electric bike was a genius idea on the part of Raf, but don’t tell him I said that! Jnr found it too heavy to use, so I had the boost of battery power when it came to some of the steep hills. Jnr has youth on his side, so I didn’t feel too sorry for him 🙂
In future I will always hire the electric version. I still felt like I had a workout, but my bottom wasn’t nearly as sore as it normally is because I wasn’t sitting for as long. I wasn’t walking funny the following day in the way I do after 20-odd miles of cycling! I had to be mindful of the battery, and used Eco mode unless I was cycling along a difficult patch. The electric option was £30 for 4 hours, while the regular bikes cost £20 each. This includes helmet hire too.
For those who are less adventurous, a family walk from the dam car park to the Wave Chamber is a good suggestion. The pathway can get quite muddy, so wellies are essential, which I’m sure the kids won’t object to. I visited in the summer foolishly wearing sandals and my feet were caked in mud!
After all of this cake and tea are essential to refuel, and there’s a lovely cafe in Kielder Castle. We especially enjoy watching the red squirrels if we manage to get a window table.
For those requiring a stiffer drink The Anglers Arms has a decent selection of ales. They also serve a comprehensive hot food menu, should you need something more substantial before leaving. Be warned though, in the summer the pub is always packed and it can be difficult it to even get grass space to sup a pint.
If you are planning a trip in advance and are visiting with children Kielder Observatory is a fascinating place to go. Even if you just take a drive up the road that leads there you will stumble upon the Skyspace walking trail. The views from here over the reservoir are quite spectacular on a sunny day. I have featured more info about the Observatory in a previous blog, which can be found here.
As a family we love visiting Kielder, and think that it’s the perfect place to go during the Easter holidays. Let me know if you have any other tips to share for the area.
Thanks for reading,