Located about 25 miles north of Hexham, Kielder Water is the largest artificial lake in the United Kingdom and is surrounded by the Kielder forest, which is beautiful, wild and full of trails to hike around the “water.” We first stopped at Tower Knowe visitor center but the coffee facilities seemed a bit spartan so we pushed on to Leaplish, near the other end of the "water." After settling in at a window overlooking the lake we spent a leisurely early afternoon enjoying the view of the water while sipping coffee in the warmth of the Boat Inn.
It was just about noon when we arrived and they were setting up for Sunday afternoon roast dinner: roast turkey, beef and pork all part of the carver section of a long buffet. However, we opted to skip the large meal and instead drove over to nearby Kielder Castle to have lunch in the tearoom there.
|Tower Knowe visitor center|
|Susan had to try the pastry -- which was OK|
From Kielder Castle we took back roads (narrow lanes in some places) crossing back into Scotland and eventually made our way to the Solway Firth just outside of Gretna Green. During the past two days we had traversed from coast to coast (more or less), from the North Sea in the east to (almost) the Irish Sea in the west.
|the wilds of Scotland|
Since 1753 when English law prohibited couples under the age of 21 from getting married without parental consent and Scotland didin't, there quickly developed a rush for teenagers to elope north of the border. And right across the border was Gretna Green where an enterprising blacksmith turned marriage into a lucrative side business. He was soon joined by others and to this day Gretna Green is a popular wedding destination. (You can still seal your vows over the old anvil.)
It was rather late in the day by the time we arrived and the courtship maze was closed. It didn't matter since a light rain was still falling, which would probably have prevented any of us from checking our compatibility with one another. So we opted to have coffee inside the rather cavernous cafe area, really several areas that seemed to blend together. In fact, we were in just one building of what appeared to be a rather serious theme park (without the rides) devoted one way or another to getting married. I wonder if there's similar venue that's centered on staying married, and if so do they have rides?
|one of the interior portals at the Famous Blacksmiths Shop|
Our second visit turned out to be as pleasant as the first — the food was just as good (perhaps better?) and we all thoroughly enjoyed a wonderful meal of food produced in the local styles: roast beef with Yorkshire pudding (Richard had the same thing but with roast pork), Susie had salmon and Pauline enjoyed another “Bog Burger,” with chips of course. Everything was washed down with local ales.
|roast beef with Yorkshire pudding on a bed of mashed potatoes, roasted potatoes, roasted parsnips with a rich gravy|
|this was two scoops of ice cream!|
After we returned to the B & B we said goodnight and Susie spent a quick half hour packing up for our morning departure back to St. Albans.