Torrential rain greeted us to Northumberland, and that combined with the rollercoaster ride of a road alongside Hadrian’s Wall made for an interesting journey. But with the car loaded with our wellies and raincoats, we were well prepared for a few days' exploring the Kielder Water Lodges.
Kielder Lake and the area surrounding is stunning and our Tynedale Superior Lodge was perfectly positioned to take advantage of the views, as it was elevated above the main facilities. Cars can be driven around the site and you can park next to each lodge, albeit slowly and carefully – there may be little ones running around as well as the colony of rabbits.
'To cool down after fencing we headed out in the rain and took up residence in the woodland bird-watching hut, also known as Squirrel Hide. Kielder Lake is home to red squirrels and we spent a happy hour watching out for them.'
Our lodge was far more luxurious than I'd anticipated. With enough room for a family of six, it had a comfy lounge, a dining area, a fully kitted-out kitchen, two bedrooms with robes and slippers, and two bathrooms – ideal for a larger family and for when you're trying to get out in the mornings. The pièce de resistance, the hot tub, was neatly hidden at the back of the lodge.
We'd been advised to book our activities ahead of our visit to avoid disappointment, from a seasonal timetable featuring something to suit all ages and interests. Most activities are at extra cost. We decided to try out some things – fencing, archery, crossbow and Waterwalkerz – that we'd never done before.
Fencing, open to kids and adults, was 90 minutes of pure fun and exhaustion under the expert guidance of our qualified instructor Johnny. To cool down we headed out in the rain and took up residence in the woodland bird-watching hut, also known as Squirrel Hide. Kielder Lake is home to red squirrels and we spent a happy hour watching out for them – only to miss a photo opportunity when they finally showed up.
The next day started with a game of mini-golf in the most gorgeous waterfront setting, followed by elevenses in the on-site Boat Inn. Then it was on to target sports, a combination of archery and crossbow in a woodland hut, suitable for over-14s. Unfortunately the midges were out in full force, so it's a good idea to bring insect repellent – although Johnny had head nets at the ready for extra protection.
From there we headed to the birds of prey centre, which runs two demonstrations daily. Here we got to see an array of birds and even to hold a few of them, before touring the centre and chatting with the bird experts.
The indoor pool is open for swim sessions and also for Waterwalkerz – giant inflatable balls you have try to stand up in. The kids had no trouble at all, putting us adults to shame. Before lunch, we also spent some time with a Wildlife Trust representative watching the live webcam of ospreys in their nest across the lake. Three chicks had hatched that day. We also got to peer through the Osprey Watch Point telescope, specially set up for summer and the hatching season.
We grabbed a late lunch in the family-friendly pub – the only place on the park where we could get phone signal or internet access (via the free wifi). The stottie, a northern favourite, was a feast, and we were also impressed by the very fair prices.
Archery was our last activity. With kids aged seven and up able to take part, there were more of us today and I got well and truly beaten. The instructor, Adam, was great with everyone but especially the kids, getting them fully involved and making the activity fun.
The sun also came out to play on our last day and the landscape around us looked even more glorious. We agreed that with the friendly staff, experienced instructors, fun activities, excellent accommodation and beautiful surroundings, this is the perfect place to holiday with the family. We do recommend bringing bikes and walking boots – if we had more time, we would have explored the surrounding area a bit more.
But you don’t even need to be so active – this is a fabulous choice for a relaxing break away from home, and there's even a ferry operating from beside the pub, so you can explore the area by water.
Find out more about Northumberland family holidays.