Monday, April 28, 2014

April 27 - Kielder Water and Curious Marial Rituals in Scotland

Over our usual breakfast we asked our hosts to book us a table at Carts Bog Inn for our last meal (their son works there as an assistant manager). The food was so good the first time and they reportedly had roast beef and pork Sunday nights so we didn’t want to miss that.

 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
Kielder Castle

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. 

looking north
looking south
the wilds of Scotland
Solway Firth
From the Firth we drove back into Gretna Green and stopped for tea at the Famous Blacksmiths Shop of Gretna Green.

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
From Gretna Green and Scotland we returned to Northumberland and England and back to Fairshaw Rigg where we relaxed for an hour or so before heading out to dinner to the Carts Bog Inn (again).

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

We topped the meal off we a round of desserts: tart for Susie, cake for Richard and ice cream for myself and Pauline. Delicious and certainly in an entirely different league of quality from our experience at the Pheasant in Jedburgh.

this was two scoops of ice cream!
lemon tart
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.

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