Northern Wanderings

Kielder Birthday Adventures

Last Friday was my birthday (my last as a Miss!) so we headed up to Kielder for a much needed weekend retreat.

On Friday evening we had tickets booked for Kielder Observatory. This has been on my bucket list for some time, and it didn’t disappoint. Sat beneath the largest area of protected dark sky in Europe, and the third largest in the world; this unassuming wooden building is accessed via a winding dirt road through the forest. It houses 2 telescopes and a central lecture room area which is used for the introductory talks and presentations. It is manned by some permanent staff and an army of volunteers. We were entertained by 3 staff members on our visit, all of whom were exceptionally knowledgeable and enthusiastic. Being something of a geek (and just for the record, geeks are cool) this was right up my street; but I can’t imagine anyone finding a visit there uninteresting. Even though it was too cloudy to do any stargazing, I don’t think either of us was ever bored. It’s so mind-boggling and humbling to think about how absolutely tiny we are in the grand scheme of things, and what lies within our galaxy and past it. One of the staff members, a recent astrophysics graduate, gave a talk on the recent ‘New Horizons’ Pluto mission. Did you know that they named sections of Charon, one of Pluto’s moons, after popular sci-fi names? There’s an area called Gallifrey, a Vulcan Planum, Mordor Macula….brilliant! I loved every minute.

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We had booked 2 nights on a farmhouse about half an hour from Kielder itself. We were the only guests there, and came downstairs on Saturday morning to the delicious smells of a full English cooking away. All fresh local produce as well! After a bit of a lazy start, we drove back along to Kielder village and hired some bikes for a couple of hours. I hadn’t been on a bike for at least 8 years, so it was a little hair raising to begin with; but we soon got into the swing of things and followed a nice 8 mile route through the forest. One part, in particular, was stunning; just before the end of the track, which is where this header picture was taken – beautiful, tall, dark trees and sunlight streaming through the branches. It doesn’t get much prettier or more Shire-esque than that! It really reminded me of the Robert Frost poem; The Road Not Taken. I love a good quote 🙂

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On Sunday it was time to head home, stopping off along Hadrian’s Wall on the way for a quick walk. We made it back to the car just before the rain started….the odds were in our favour this weekend! We finished off the day hibernating under a cosy blanket from the comfort of our sofa, staring out at the traditional August rain. Definitely my kind of weekend. Kielder,we’ll be back!

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