When we arrived at Kielder Forest and Water park early on the morning of our February event we were greeted with a blanket of mist covering the reservoir and filling the valley, most of the snow had disappeared from the lower parts of the forest but was still visible on the hilltops. We also had a new meeting venue for breakfast as the Duke’s Pantry is still undergoing its renovations at the Castle. The new meeting place was The Boat Inn at Leaplish Waterside Park and the staff provided a great welcome and a very filling breakfast which was eaten overlooking the perfectly still reservoir.
Once the briefing had been completed we headed off into the forest just as the mist was lifting, with all the snow we have had lately now thawed it had left a lot of the tracks very wet and quite muddy in places. Most of the morning session went OK with the only vehicle getting stuck was the Mountain Rescue Land Rover. Although the specially adapted Rescue vehicle is very capable off-road, the weight of its specialist equipment, it’s tow bar and the very soft ground all contributed to it’s downfall. However, a lot of our supporters ‘mucked’ in and the ambulance was extracted very quickly, the rest of the morning session continued with only one minor incident as we headed to Kielder Castle for a lunch break and to use the toilet facilities.
The afternoon session saw our convoy heading North of the Reservoir along Forest Drive and once again we were allowed access to the disused quarry just East of Wainhope. A number of people decided to test their vehicles against the hills and tracks available in the quarry whilst others were happy just to park up and watch. After our session in the quarry we headed North, up towards Redesdale Forest. On the very last track of the day we once again had to deal with a stuck vehicle. We attempted to complete a two mile loop North of the Forest Drive when the lead vehicle encountered some very deep ruts in the boggy ground caused by a Forestry Commission harvesting vehicle having been along the track in the preceding days. Once again a number of supporters jumped into action and with the help of the winch on the front of the Mountain Rescue Land Rover the car was extracted quickly and without damage. At this point we decided to turn the convoy around and retrace our steps to avoid any further damage to the forest tracks. Once back on the Forest Drive we headed along to the Blakehopeburnhaugh picnic area to finish the event
If this sounds like something you would like to experience then why not head over to our bookings page and sign up for the next Safari on the 7th April 2013
If you require any further information please don’t hesitate to get in touch, you can find our details on the Contact Page
The Kielder 4×4 Safari proceeds go to Northumberland National Park Mountain Rescue Team. Registered Charity 511313.