Summer Holiday 2008: Day 4: Kielder
We took a rather round about way to get to Kielder. For a start we headed straight up and crossed the Scottish border at Coldstream. Much excitement from Molly, so much so that we had to get out of the car to have photos taken not once, but twice. She's really pleased now that she's gone abroad. (Somehow Wales doesn't count it seems. I offer no more than that, not an opinion, just the observation.)
Of course, Molly wanted to stop off and get something Scottish as a souvenir. And of course, Molly managed to find Archie the Scottish Highland cuddly toy:
But we ended up heading down to Kielder through some of the most gorgeous scenery you'll ever see. It's quite amazingly beautiful. And then we got to Kielder, which is nothing more than a village in the middle of the forest. Everything is based around the forest and it's all just as amazingly beautiful as the scenery. They've got a castle and greenery everywhere, art everywhere, incredible sculpture everywhere. It's a wonderful place.
Except the midges.
The midges are like a biblical plague.
Midges. Midges. Midges. Midges. Midges. Midges. Midges. Midges. Midges. Midges. Midges. Midges. Midges. Midges. Midges. Midges. Midges. Midges. Midges. Midges. Midges. Midges. Midges. Midges. Midges. Midges. Midges. Midges.
It's the one and only bad thing about the place, the youth hostel, the village and the area. Horrible, horrible, horrible.
And on talking to the relief manager of the Youth Hostel, it seems that these things are only around for just 8 months. 8 Bloody Months.
(But strangely never mentioned in the guidebooks.)
Day 5: Kielder again
Did I mention the bloody Midges? Nothing seems to stop them, although the Youth Hostel does sell Avon moisturiser which you spray on, don't rub in and look shiny for most of the day. But it sort of works so I really didn't care about it. However, during the day it's possible to avoid them and ignore them because the little bastards tend to stay away for at least a while.
One thing about Kielder that I thought was absolutely marvellous was the fascinating decision they obviously took a few years ago to make the entire area a haven for art and architecture. There was no way we would be able to get around the lot of them, but I loved the idea of creating accesible, public art as part of the environment. Some pieces are stumbled upon as you walk, some are destinations in themselves and others are completely interactive.
In the end we saw four of them. I shall discuss them in their own posts, because I loved them.
(Labyrinth, Sky Space, Mapping & Mirage)
One of the pieces, Skyscape, was a destination piece. Which meant a mile and a half uphill on a really nasty rocky little forest road. Stunning surroundings, fantastic views, the rain just about held off.
"Not worth the walk" was the immediate comment from Louise when we got there.
Now I thought it was absolutely marvellous. But I love the idea of innovative and interesting public art and the walk up just made the peaceful, contemplative, restive nature of the place so much more appreciated.
After that it was up another half mile to the Kielder observatory. Which is a stunning piece of wood built architecture atop the hill. Obviously the best time to visit the observatory is at night when the telescope is out and the stars are on view. Because Kielder's skies are some of the most beautiful in the country due to an almost zero level of light pollution.
Some of the beautiful skies above Kielder. At night I imagine they'd be even more lovely. Except I'd never go up at night unless I wanted to become the man with a million midge bites.
The afternoon was spent at Leaplish park. A bit of golf/art and some fun playing in the park. Then run home before dusk. Inside, windows shut.
One disappointment from Kielder. No Red Squirrels. I don't believe they exist. maybe all the Grey's have eaten them? Maybe they all got sick of the midges as well?
I'd definitely come back to Kielder. It's the nicest place and the nicest YHA we went to all holiday. But I'd not dream of staying there again because of the midges. Shame.
Northumberland 2008 - start here.