The weather in North Yorkshire had been perfect for camping , dry , sunny and very warm and the forecast on the Thursday night before we left Yorkshire and headed north to kielder had said sunny with some showers for the next few days , so we thought , a bit if rain wouldn't be an issue at all. It took us 3 hours to get from Yorkshire to Kielder and we took the pretty route via the Pennines. Again as we drove along the sun was shining and the scenery just as beautiful as ever with very little traffic on the roads it was a pleasure to drive. We stopped off at a pub just south of Corbridge in County Durham for some lunch and then headed north towards the national park.
We arrived at Kielder about 3 o'clock in the afternoon and were directed to a flat level site in the middle of this field surrounded by woods and right next to the river.
Quite a few others were arriving and setting up camp at various other sites around the field and the skies were clear and bright. One of the reasons we had picked Kielder is because it is in one of the largest dark sky areas on Europe. Which means that there is very little light pollution? The campsite was very close the Kielder observatory and we had been told that they opened to the public to visit and attend stargazing evenings. There was no mobile phone reception here and the only wi fi access was right next to the reception cabin i.e. within 2 feet which is why it's taken a while to update the blog (well that is my excuse anyway) I did put the computer on and realised that the observatory was fully booked for their star gazing evenings but never mind I thought I could take advantage of the clear skies and watch from our tent that night or the next one.
Now from May - September is mosquito season and midge season. If you have ever gone for a walk in the country you will notice quite a few about during this period and also it was ideal conditions, forest, river and hot weather. Paradise for your average midge and Mosi. Wandering around the site we saw a lot of people wearing these black nets over their faces and Nigel said that's a bit extreme, but as the sun went down we realised why. The midges and mosquitoes came out to feast. So you can imagine their delight to see they had been provided with a banquet of hot juicy blood accessed via Nigel's arms. Legs, face, hands arms neck, ears .In fact every part of him that wasn't covered with clothes became fair game to these ravenous little creatures. Me, they didn't like my blood to pale and thin I think and also I was covered up. Nigel laughed at me earlier and even reminded me how I had sat on the beach in the Caribbean with my coat on! Who was laughing now? I was finding it difficult with them hovering around my face as there were clouds of them but once inside the tent or car I got relief. Nigel however was plagued by these vampirical creatures wherever he went. The only way he could get relief was to get in the car and leave the site to look for some milk and provisions at the local shop.
While at the shop we got chatting with the shop assistant to be told there was a severe weather warning for the kielder area tomorrow in the early hours. Great whose Idea was camping anyway.LOL?
It didn't get dark until 11.30pm and that night so much cloud had come over that we didn't get a chance to see the stars. We settled down for the night, listening to the sounds of crickets chirping, owls woo hooing and leaves rustling. By 6am the following morning it was blowing a Hooley, as they say. We had secured the tent down but the wind was coming in underneath and starting the lift it and then it happened. The most almighty thunderclap you have ever heard in your life and lightening which lit up the sky above our heads and then the rain came. It was just like a monsoon. It seemed to go on for ages although in reality it was only about an hour or so. The heavens had opened. I now know how Noah and his family must have felt when the rains started falling. I must admit I have never ever been in a tent in a thunderstorm like that one and believe me I have had some camping experiences in the rain when I was younger but not like this. The rain stopped eventually and wind subsided so we braved the outside desperate to get to the loo and showers having postponed the journey for a couple of hours. The ground outside the tent was sodden. In fact 2 little boys were playing just outside our tent in an enormous lake of water with their wellies on having great fun splashing about. Aah Bless em!
We decided to leave the camp lunchtime and explore the area by car. Kielder has lots of spots to stop and admire the views, picnic areas and places close to the lake Kielder water where you can take part in various outdoor sports. There are interesting visitors centre and Kielder castle and also the dam which were well worth a visit. That evening it brightened up and the skies cleared. Great I thought so we had another barbeque and walked into the village of kielder to the local pub. We thought we would come back to the campsite late when it was dark so we could do a bit of star gazing. We got back about 10pm and we waited for it to get dark. At midnight we were still waiting. We sat in the car as the midges were still bad) and looked up eagerly waiting for the sky to get dark. The most amazing moon began to rise above the trees and we actually watching it rising quite quickly it were big, almost whole and yellow. It lit up the night sky over the campsite and cast strange shadows; in fact it was so bright you could barely see the stars. Will have to go back there in the autumn when nights are drawing in and midges have all gone on holiday. We packed up Sunday morning fortunately it hadn't rained so the tent was dry. Scotland here we come again!