Saturday, 20 September 2008

Kielder and salmon

We had a fine day yesterday so we muffled up, put the hood down and went off in the Honda to Kielder for the day. Wonderful to get fresh air at last. We've had so many days with the horrible heavy cloudiness that gives me a headache - something to do with atmospheric pressure, I believe - but this really blew the cobwebs away.

We stopped first the Tower Knowe complex and spent time in the exhibition space learning about how and why the dam was built, how the water is piped down to the three rivers of the north east - the Tyne, Wear and the Tees. The reservoir is very full, about the fullest I've ever scene. Right at the far end of the exhibits (or first, depending which way you go in!) was a collection of replica jewellery found on the site. Pictish knotwork, animal motifs, and goldwork not so far removed from the styles found at Sutton Hoo. Proof of how long the site has been occupied.

We drove to Kielder Castle, parked up and had a picnic lunch, then went off to find the Salmon Hatchery. The castle, once the Duke of Northumberland's hunting lodge, is now a visitor and information centre with a gift shop, art gallery and restaurant. The building itself is fun to explore. Loads and loads of things for kids to see, touch, hear and learn about wildlife and the environment.

Same for the Hatchery. We peered into the outdoor pool where, so the legend stated, 10,000 salmon lived. We couldn't see one, but then they are at the tiny stage, no longer than a thumb joint, and hide all day long in mesh designed to replicate the nooks and crannies available in a stream. Information galore on the king of fish for the uninitiated. Oh, and the freshwater mussels.

A walk along to the old viaduct where the railroad once ran and then out along the Bakethin shore. Had the place all to ourselves barring one man and his three dogs. But then there's plenty of room for the visitors to spread out and lose themselves. Lots of mountain bike riders around, zooming along the trails. All the way home with no need to put the hood up, and all that fresh air had us zonked out by eight thirty. Early to bed and fast asleep! Only regret? I forgot to take the camera. Never mind - there will be a next time. We didn't get to see any of the sculptures, or the observatory....

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