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Day 3: Kielder Water

After I'd finished the blog last night we went out for a stroll around the hotel grounds.


It was starting to get a little bit dark, but it was still a really lovely place to walk around.


The interior of the hotel is really beautiful too.


There are some gorgeous stained glass windows.


And when we came down to breakfast this morning we found the breakfast rooms were rather grand too!


We had the breakfast room almost to ourselves, so there were no concerns about social distancing! Ordinarily there would have been a breakfast buffet, but we'd been asked to fill out a checklist to choose the food we wanted the night before. The problem was that with not being about to see the food as you would at a buffet, it was difficult to know how much to order. I ordered a croissant, for example, expecting to get something fairly small, and ended up with one of the biggest croissants I've ever had :D All the food was beautiful though, and the benefit of having such a large breakfast was that we definitely weren't going to need any lunch.

Before we set off for the day's adventures, we had another walk around the hotel grounds in the sunshine.


It felt a bit like we'd woken up and had breakfast in a National Trust property :) 


Our plan for today was to drive to Kielder Water. This decision was mainly based on having driven past a sign to Kielder Water when we were on our way to Scotland a few weeks ago and vaguely remembering having learned about it in geography lessons :D We hadn't done a lot of research for this trip - partly because I've spent most of my free time recently planning another trip to Scotland (plus Tim hasn't had any free time!) - and we weren't able to do much research this morning, because there's no Wi-Fi at the hotel. So we had a quick look at the map, chose a place which looked like it was in the general vicinity of Kielder Water and put it in the Sat Nav.

This would have worked fine, except for the fact that there were some roadworks we didn't know about. Our route - somewhat surprisingly - quickly took us out of England and across the border into Scotland, passing through the towns of Kelso and Jedburgh. At some point we turned off onto a small road which was signposted Kielder Water, but after travelling down it for the best part of ten miles we found that it was closed for roadworks and we couldn't actually get as far as Kielder! So we were forced to retrace our steps and attempt to approach Kielder from another angle.

It didn't really matter, because the countryside we were driving through was all so beautiful. Eventually we found a main road and passed back from Scotland into England. 


We paused at a viewpoint on the border to take some photos.


It was a wonderfully sunny day today and we could see for miles.


Shortly after crossing the border we finally saw a turn off signposted for Kielder Water. Excellent! The sign said something about a forest road, which sounded scenic... It turned out to be a bit more of an adventure than we had expected!


Kielder Forest Drive is a 12-mile gravel road which leads through a remote part of the Kielder forest. It's apparently one of the highest roads in England, reaching a peak of 457 metres at Blakehopenick.


There's a slightly unusual structure built to mark the highest point.


It was very scenic though!


Driving on a gravel road meant that it felt a bit like being in Iceland - and our car got rather dusty in the process - but the views as we travelled along were definitely worth it.


As we reached the end of the forest road we emerged into a much busier, touristy area at a place called Kielder Castle. To be honest, the castle didn't look very impressive and was mostly obscured by food wagons!


We parked the car in the hope that we would be able to find a path to walk to Kielder Water itself. Parking turned out to be more difficult than expected, because the car park machines only appeared to take coins. Eventually, after consulting a forest ranger, we managed to find one that took cards and we were sorted!

There were numerous marked trails starting from around the castle and we followed one of them for a mile or so, through a forest and along by a river.


There was no sign of Kielder Water though, and the path was a bit muddy, so after a while we turned around and walked back towards the castle.


Rather than retrace our steps along the forest road, we turned onto a main road which looked like it ought to take us around the edge of the lake. After a bit more driving, we finally managed to find Kielder Water :) 


Kielder Water is the largest man-made reservoir in the UK.


Work began on building the reservoir in 1975, being completed in 1981. It took two years for the valley to fill with water.


We found a lakeside path and set off for a stroll.


It's possible to walk around the entire reservoir, but the path is around 27 miles so we didn't fancy it today!


We had a good walk though, and after the rain of the past few days it was really nice to be outside in the sunshine.


It definitely looked like there had been a lot of rain here; at one point, we came across this flooded road.


We took that as a sign to retrace our steps and walk back towards the car park.


Our breakfast had kept us going for a long time but we were starting to feel hungry now, we were on the look out for somewhere to get dinner. Our route back towards the hotel took us over the border into Scotland again and we stopped in the town of Jedburgh, which was the largest place we'd driven through today so seemed like the best bet to find restaurants. 


We'd actually been to Jedburgh once before, during our 2010 road trip around Scotland. Unfortunately, that day it was pouring with rain and we ended up having a rather mediocre lunch in a cafe attached to a woollen mill.


It turns out that on that occasion we had missed the town's main sight; the ruins of Jedburgh abbey.


We found an Indian restaurant which was open and had a nice meal, which was only slightly marred by some rather noisy drunk locals on the opposite side of the restaurant. Despite that, we've had a lot of fun today and really enjoyed exploring some more of Northumberland :) 


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