So it’s back to Kielder with renewed vigour after a fabulous Christmas break. I do mean Kielder – first day back after New Year and I spent 5 hours in Kielder School while the children and teachers were on a training day.
Jo, Julie, Liz, David, Debs and I were hosting a free scanning and heritage story sharing afternoon on the Kielder Viaduct Heritage Project, which is part funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund. David busily scanned an old map of the area pre-Kielder Water, while we talked and captured the stories of villagers about their experiences of the village, railway and viaduct. I even met the man who lives in the former Deadwater Station where the old railway line used to pass through on its way to Riccarton Junction. Tales of coal being passed to the children waiting along the track as the train passed through the valley brought a smile to my face.
We then planned what to do with all of the material we have collected over the period of the project – website links and on-line stories to listen to, plus a possible talking bench and boards, all of course on the Lakeside Way which goes across the viaduct.
Later that evening I met up with the Kielder Parish Council to give them my six monthly update and discuss any plans or events happening in Kielder Water & Forest Park which they might want to work alongside, such as the Kielder Marathon. New events this year include the Kielder Ultra in April and the Kielder Triathlon in July of Iron standard.
It’s been a busy week for Dark Skies too. Since securing the International Dark Sky Park Status before Christmas, I have been refining the next steps in our dark skies adventure.
The Kielder Observatory goes from strength to strength with events to March fully booked. So with a possible grant from the Rural Development Programme for England, a group of us are working with local communities to develop Dark Sky Discovery Sites.
These would be dotted about Kielder Water & Forest Park where visitors can get out on a clear night from their B&B, cottage or shepherd hut to see the stars with some information boards and leaflets to help. They may be a local event with a trained astronomer to help point the way with some binoculars and telescopes to hand. Then back to the hot choccy and wood burner to warm up again.
To see Jupiter, Saturn’s rings or the newest and oldest stars in the universe, a trip to the fabulous Kielder Observatory is a must. Gary’s been updating me on their plans to make it a 7 day a week place – but more of that to follow.
Following last weeks BBC Stargazing Live, the evening’s entertainment involved watching Dara and Brian and then tweeting with the rest of the fans just reminding them how great Kielder and the Northumberland International Dark Sky Park really is.
Director of Kielder Water & Forest Park Development Trust