This morning we had a free morning to explore Hexham. Most people have visited the abbey but not done an awful lot else. This afternoon will be a complete flop if this weather keeps up. We are going to Kielder Water and Forest. The boat trip on the lake is out of service today because it has broken down and the forest road is only suitable for 4x4, so I will have to point out some other trees to be Kielder forest! It's all unclassified roads in that area and the majority is advertised as unsuitable for coaches so I'll have to be careful! From there we are supposed to drive the route of Hadrians Wall but I will do that tomorrow on our way to Carlisle.
Before we set off, I explained to the passengers how this could be an interesting ride and if I choose the wrong road we may be camping for the night because the coach will be stuck! Had I not taken the wrong turning for Kielder Water, the roads would have been fine! But instead, I found myself on a single track country lane with low trees and no passing places. It was ok until we were 1/2 mile from joining the road we should have been on and I was faced with a narrow humped back bridge with a right angled bend at either end! There wasn't much room around the first bend but I'd done worse and it wasn't until I was at the top of the hump that I realised just what a hump it was! We sat for a moment waiting for the ferry lift to rise before crawling over with eyes shut waiting to hear if it would scrape! Eek! I felt the back wheels come over the rise and there hadn't been a sound! I knew I was safe! So long as I could fit round this next bend! Eek! Phew! We were out! I was definitely not going to make that mistake on the way back. Although I didn't let on to anyone it was a mistake!
We arrived at Kielder visitor centre and it was still raining, but nowhere near as heavily as it was this morning. There was a good exhibition of the history of the reservoir and how it was built and a nice cafe overlooking the lake where I was given free tea and cake. :-)
I watched the windsurfers struggling because there wasn't enough wind and some people walked out to the dam. After staying here for an hour and a half I drove everyone up the side of the lake to Kielder Castle.
I needed to turn around so i put my nose into what very soon became a dirt track through the forest and the lady sat behind me said, "I dont think we'll fit down there Nina!" She was quite relieved when she realised i was just turning around! No one wanted to get off for photos so we headed straight back to the hotel using the road we should have used on the way out.
There were no problems on the journey back other than the timber trucks playing games of 'let's knock the coach mirrors off'. Well boys, I'm wise to your games and you'll have to do better than that to get me!
Today has turned out to be far more successful than I thought it would be. I didn't know what I was going to do with a coach full of mostly pensioners in a place geared up for outdoor activities and watersports. But it seems they have all loved it despite everything being against us. No boat, no birds of prey display and endless rain. It's been great! Everyone has enjoyed another superb meal in the hotel this evening and most are now in the bar. Final day tomorrow but I don't want to go home yet :-(