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Saturday, 14 April 2012

The Kielder Sanction II the South Shore
Friday April 13th.

 Because it has been Easter and people have been on holiday, visiting family, putting  up family or just chilling, the organisation of this week's walk has been done by a steady stream of emails. The government spies at GCHQ must have had an interesting time with messages from routemeisters, blogmeisters, punmeisters, halfmarathonmeisters and vogelmeisters, probably plotting to blow up Kielder Dam and send the contents of the reservoir down the Tyne to wipe out the chipboard plant at Hexham.
But this is the other half of the Kielder Sanction I walk of December 2nd, and totally innocent.
  Six gadgies, two cars and bus passes at the ready we met at Tower Knowe on the south side of Kielder Water in time to catch the 880 bus, operated by Howard Snaith, a friendly bus company, which would take us to Kielder Village. It was at Tower Knowe I realised I had had my second senior moment in two days. On the previous day I had gone to watch Durham play cricket. As I got out of my car my wife rang to tell me, rather gleefully, that I had forgotten my sandwiches, my bag contained only a flask of coffee. Today as I got my kit out of Ben's car I realised I had left my walking socks at home. Fortunately Ben had a spare pair, saving me having to buy new ones at the visitor centre, true Yorkshire spirit.
My friend Jim's * mum has a cottage in Kielder Village, currently being renovated and refurnished, hence the unusual garden furniture.

Ruth's cottage at Kielder. Jim and I became furniture men when she bought it about 1980.  We hired a van and took loads of stuff up.
  The Duke of Northumberland once had a shooting lodge in Kielder Village, which he had constructed in 1775. Today it is a visitor centre and cafe. Having puta few extra pounds onto my officially overweight body with all the Easter chocolate I restricted myself to a cup of coffee. Brian the punmeister awarded three flitches to the bacon sandwich, good service, pleasant staff but bacon not the best.
We had a quick look round the visitor centre which had a good display of the flaura and fauna to be found in the area, a gift shop and a TV set which had a live picture of the Osprey nest, but the birds were out fishing or picnicking.
  At last the walk. A map is not essential as you follow a well signposted Lakeside Way but if you need a map the LR 80 at 1;50000 is OK but the map available from the visitor centre is better for this walk. Kielder Water and Forest Park published by Ashworth Maps is excellent as it shows the art works round the lake, but they get very cross if you reproduce it without permission.
                                     Kielder Castle visitor centre.
 From the castle take the path down the right hand side of the maze with the hilarious name "The Minotaur" and turn right on the road. After a couple of hundred yards the Lakeside Way is signposted on the left. As a short diversion go to the bird hide which overlooks Bakethin, the original reservoir. We saw a pair of squabbling sandpipers, well it is spring, three cormorants and some mallard ducks. The very large and very noisy RAF hercules which had been sent out to find us by GCHQ failed as we were in the hide.

                                    The RAF failed to find us in the birdhide,
                                     but we spotted them on each of their three
                                     runs over the water.

Leave the hide and rejoin the Lakeside Way, watching out for cyclists. There are many and why not, it's a good track round the lake. After about a mile you reach the first workm of art, "Mirage".  In the trees by the lake there is a lot of decking and suspended from the trees, usually, a number of pieces of metal which flutter in the breeze. Missing today, perhaps they really are a mirage and only appear on hot days..
The lakeside path turns and follows the Lweis Burn at this point, which it crosses, eventually, on a rather pretty footbridge.

                                    Gadgies near  the Lewis Burn bridge. It has
                                    been awarded a Prime Minister's badge for
                                    bridge design. Well, they have to do something.

  Shortly after the burn the path cuts inland . We made an area which had several tree trunks to act as seats a Herbiespot and settled down to sandwiches and coffee. I had not brought pies, I do not wish my fellow gadgies to become officially overweight, although I expect several are. As a break from politics and football the discussion turned to the origin of the word "lug" used to describe some metal parts as well as ears. Brian the punmeister suggested the word originated in the Scottish town of Lugg in Earshire. Not too bad.
The next visitor centre is at Leaplish, there is also a small indoor swimming pool and a cafe, but we marched on. past works of art such as "Mapping", "Shadow", "Whirling Bears" and "Birds of Prey Centre". But we did stop at the squirrel feeding centre. Not a squirrel in sight, although there is a colony of proper British red ones in the area and a sign warning greys to keep away or else...
 In the hide we were watching  a small flock of finches, including a couple of greenfinc, enjoying a meal when the RAF sent two jets looking for us. Hidden as we were they failed to spot us but they frightened off the birds, much to dismay of the Scots family who were also in the hide.
The next work along the shore is "Freya's Cabin", a copper clad hut which looks directly across the water to "Robin's Hut". Read the blog for December 2nd for the whole sad tale.
 At this point the party split up, causing more confusion and concern at GCHQ. Brian cut across the Bull Crag Peninsula to save a few miles and the rest continued round the perimeter.

                                      Freya's Cabin. As a work of art I prefer it
                                      to a pickled shark. At least it offers shelter
                                     in the rain.

 At a signpost on the south side of  the peninsula we divided again, Dave and John the musicmeister, taking the correect route, Harry, Ben and I taking a slightly longer path which involved a short walk on the road past the Calvert Trust b efore returning to the Lakeside Way. READ SIGNPOSTS CAREFULLY!

Eventually we all returned to Tower Knowe at about the same time, Brian having stopped to admire a pair of Crossbills.


                                   A walk round the lake needs a picture.

 According to old faithful Higear this walk was 13.3 miles. The Outdoor App failed because I had forgotten to recharge the battery booster, another senior moment.
Ben's bragometer claimed 15 miles and I await results from Dave.
It is a long walk, mostly flat and requires eithe a bus ride or cars at either end. You could walk all the way round of course, about 27 miles, as one man we met claimed to have done with his small dogs too.
The Pheasant Inn was closed again so we went to the Cheviot Hotel in Bellingham, an extremely friendly and genuine local with a good selection of beers, Jennings Cumberland, Black Sheep, a Wylam Beer and a strong one with wolf in the name.
And a final note: although we never saw them the Ospreys have arrived in Kielder_ two pairs.

And we didn't blow the dam up. Next week; The Howgills, the hunt for beaver!


* Jim Cunningham, author of:  The Heights, Starballs in Space, and The Last time I saw Elvis. All available from Amazon