Friday, 14 March 2014

A Spotted Woodpecker & High Force Waterfall North Yorkshire

Our last morning at the cabin :( we were up, packed and ready to go at 8.30am-some of us may have been excited to rejoin the rest of the world with wifi and 3G but I can't possibly say who....
Since we were up so early we decided to have a last walk to the red squirrel hide, very different from last night where there wasn't a single bird in sight...this morning we were spoiled with nearly a hundred chaffinches, green finches, nuthatch's and the red squirrels :) we were also very lucky to see a spotted Woodpecker!! We could hear him in the trees and then we all watched in excited silence as he flew down and rested on one of the bird feeders:

We've been very impressed with the wildlife we have seen whilst we have been here and it has completely inspired Cordelia's creativity-she now wants to look into photography and has started drawing sketches of birds. Lovely bit of strewing!!

It was pretty cold today so we set off back home via the North Penines-what a beautiful scenic drive even if it was a bit twisty and Bailey felt car sick :( There was even some snow upon the hills and some pretty grim rain and wind. We headed towards High Force waterfall, which we had passed at the other side of on our way back from Whinfell Forest in January. It promised a wonderful sight and din't disappoint, the sound of the water was deafening before we even reached it....

A 21 metre drop into the River Tees:

Four Pesky Hobbits and their Dad :D

Walking back to the car there were lots of little bits of woodland and streams..

We've had such a wonderful, relaxing week at Keilder and its been so nice to escape from all the distractions of home. 

Thursday, 13 March 2014

Keilder Observatory & Skyspace Walk

Our last full day at Keilder Water so we decided to do a few smaller walks, firstly we walked near the Keilder Viaduct and also popped into see the bird hide but it was already busy with several bird watchers. They did let the children look through their fancy telescopes and they were lucky enough to see a Green Woodpecker and Mandarin Duck-no photo's sadly.

We then drove to the car park at Skyspace and began our walk up the hill to see the Skyspace structure and Keilder Observatory-although the observatory wasn't actually open I still wanted to see it. I had tried to book us on to some of night time shows but it was completely full for the week we we there which was a shame. Keilder boasts the darkest night skies in England and the stars were definitely clearer and brighter although it was so cold we only popped outside for 10-15 minutes to look at them each night.

The Skyspace structure was close to the observatory and a good 1 1/2 miles uphill so we took a relatively gentle stroll up to the top. The structure itself was quite cool with a huge circular hole in the top so you could see the sky, it lights up different colours at dusk and dawn which must be cool to see but I wouldn't fancy the walk in the dark. We only sat inside for a few minutes as it was quite cold inside so we went back and sat in the sun to have our lunch.

Feeling very tired once we reached the top-our total miles this holiday have been around 22+!

The outside of skyspace:

The view of Keilder Observatory:

And the view down the hill: I loved the Christmas trees that were planted everywhere-perfect for bauble bombing :)

Ruben wanted us to do a top of the hill selfie :)

The outside of skyspace:

In the evening we had a walk back to the squirrel hide near our cabin:

Compared to our visit yesterday morning it was extremely quiet-there was only a couple of owls in the distance. No birds or squirrels. It was a little eerie to be honest

Being quiet and looking for birds:

The night sky was very pretty on the walk back up to the cabin though:

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Red Squirrels at Keilder Forest, Keilder Dam walk

Everyone is sleeping so well here I think because it is so quiet, we all woke up early again which is very rare at home. We had breakfast and a little walk down to the lake where there is a red squirrel hide. We had a quick walk by the lake as it was such a beautiful clear morning, the lake looked so clear-like a mirror, it reminds me of the lake at Bala.

Being goofy for the camera:

Finding ice at the side of the lake, Ruben couldn't resist picking it up

A rare photo of the four pesky hobbits :)

We sat in the squirrel hide for about half an hour it was so quiet and there were so many birds and several red squirrels! Quite rare to see red squirrels in England now and it was only earlier in the year when we stayed at Whinfell Forest in January that we saw our first ever red squirrel so feel really lucky to have now seen several more. They are really beautiful and much smaller than grey squirrels.

These were Cordelia's photographs again:

 I love this one

After an early lunch we had a drive around the lake to see the dam wall, within about 2 minutes of leaving the car park Ruben went flying in the mud and ended up bum down :( thankfully it was only a 5 minute drive back to the cabin and a quick change of clothes (a chance to stick the old clothes in the washing machine in the hope all the mud would come out-there was so much of it!) and we were back at the lakeside in less than 20 minutes. This walk was mostly flat thank goodness, as our legs were still feeling achey from yesterdays 9 mile walk. It was still 5 miles altogether though....

The lake was so still again in looked like a mirror:

Couldn't resist a picture of the blue skies and green trees against it:

We walked all the way around the huge dam to the Wave Chamber sculpture, I forgot to take a photo though. It was made up of stones into a beehive kind of shape and when you stood inside (it was very small and a little claustrophobic) and closed the door you could see the reflection of the water through some tiny holes cast shadows on the floor. There was also a photograph of the farmhouse that used to stand on top of the hill over what used to be a valley before it was flooded to form Keilder Dam. We could see crags next to the edge of the water which people used to climb up for views of the valley, have to admit that it made me feel a bit wary as I have a bit of a fear with the children near deep water-no idea where it comes from but it made me feel uneasy being so close to the edge. We stopped for a quick snack though before trekking back of the mini-island which was incredibly muddy but good fun back on to the path and back over the 1 mile dam wall. Back at the cabin and we had a family game of Lord of the Rings risk-Bailey and Ruben beating the rest of us!

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Keilder Water Northumberland

We were all up early, its amazing how quickly you realise how noisy living in a city, albeit the very outskirts, is when you spend a night in the middle of a national park. I kept waking up to just listen to the silence and the occasional owl. Keilder Water is the largest man made lake in the UK and it really is massive! Dotted around the lake are various sculptures of all different designs by lots of different artists. The first one we had a chance to experience was the Minotaur Maze by Keilder Castle, its by artists Nick Coombe and Shona Kitchen.

The children thought it was brilliant and ran round for a good ten minutes finding ways in and out of the maze which is made up from lots of rocks in mesh metal squares-real life Minecrafting! The centre of the maze is made up from green, glass looking rocks.

Then it was time to start the walk we had planned a 9 mile round walk, I'd love to say the kids were excited by this but it'd be a lie. They really enjoy being outdoors but I think the miles factor distracts them from the enjoyment. Never the mind...

Keilder Viaduct, a bridge that was built using mathematical design because of the angle of the track and the flow of the river. When the valley was flooded to create the dam the bridge was saved thankfully.

The view of the lake on our first part of the walk, the weather has been so lovely.

In the shade though we did spot some huge sheets of ice, the children couldn't resist throwing in some stones to see if they could crack the ice.

Successful ice cracking experiment!

Enjoying the view:

Look at all the frog spawn we found:

The lake was so still it looked just like a mirror, Cordelia took this photo-she has developed a desire for photography

The second sculpture we arrived at was Silvas Capitalis by Simparch. I'd seen this on the leaflet back at the cabin and was dying to see it in person. It was really big with stairs inside so you could climb up to the top and stick your head out of the eyes!

The children had a lot of fun playing in here pretending to be eyeballs, brains, tears etc...I thought we'd never get them back down!

Back to our walk and Cordelia spotted a brown tail moth caterpillar, we didn't touch it as I am pretty sure they advise not to but she took a photo:

Finally we reached our destination after 4 1/2 miles of walking-Janus Chairs by Ryder Architecture. A perfect stop for lunch and quite possibly the nicest place I have ever stopped for a cup of tea (out of a flask anyway!). The sunshine was glorious and none of us moved for a good twenty minutes, except when we realised Hubby had left our sandwiches in the fridge back at the cabin!!! Thankfully we had lots of other snack foods to keep our tummies from grumbling. It was such a wonderful place for a picnic and you can move each chair around individually-they are epic chairs.

Ruben even made a slide down on his-he and Bailey got the biggest chair

A stunning setting for the chairs

I'd like to say the 4 and a half miles back were just as much fun but we were all a little bit worn out, too much winter eating and not enough exercise! I love that feeling of being totally exhausted from a good walk though and the children can't have been that tired as they had another go in the maze on the way back to the car!