Day 1 – by Aaryan and Akaash A
We set off on the Thursday morning, still only partly awake, and arrived at the National Space Centre in Leicester for a break from the sizeable journey we had begun. We were greeted by an exceedingly impressive 360-degree planetarium, where most of us learned about the ongoing hunt for alien life, and one or two dozed off under the stars.
Following that, we learnt about the various rockets and planets and the history of space travel, including Laika, the first dog in space, Yuri Gagarin, the first man in space and the very clunky, medieval-looking suit that was the early design for British space suits. At the space centre, there was also a fun section where we simulated going on a space mission to Mars.
Along the journey, we stopped at the Angel of the North, both to stretch our legs and admire the architectural ingenuity of the artwork by Antony Gormley. We said goodbye to the Angel and continued our journey. In the dark, we arrived at our destination – a wooden lodge with a waterlogged five-a-side football pitch. The two E blockers cooked a surprisingly tasty meal of spaghetti Bolognese, sacrificing the (previously) clean kitchen space in the process.
We all became excited at the prospect of flexing our brain muscles in a quiz set up by Mr Turley and Mr Nevin-Jones, with the winners receiving a voucher to use at the Kielder Observatory gift shop. Much to the disappointment of Mr Turley, half of us didn’t even know which county we were in.
Day 2 – by Ray L and Henry G-C
Day two brought some clear patches of sky and the group took full advantage by taking the fishing tackles down to the North Tyne. Set against the serene backdrop of the sweeping Northumberland Pennines, two friendly ghillies watched over us as our largely inexperienced group tried our hand at both spin and fly fishing. However, despite our best efforts, tremendous skill, and unwavering patience and good spirits, most of the fish were somehow able to find a way to evade our traps, with the exception of a lone trout, expertly caught by Ray. Nonetheless, everyone found the day thoroughly enjoyable and would definitely recommend it to others.
Darkness fell, and we drove to Kielder Observatory, where we learnt about exoplanets and the hunt of extra-terrestrial life in more detail. Unfortunately, weather conditions prevented us from stargazing in real-time. Nonetheless, after an informative briefing, we were pleased to view pre-captured images through the research-grade telescope and learn about the observatory’s operations. Then, with one of the astronomy experts, we discussed the extensive collection of rocks, and even had the opportunity to touch actual asteroids, a fragment of the moon, and stand atop a Martian sample encased in a protective box. Tired after a full-on day, we departed from the observatory around 11pm, immensely relieved that we had not opted for the session running from 11pm to 3am!
Day 3 – by Paul de C C and Jimi B
Before going kayaking, we had breakfast which was, as always, a mess. We first paddled around the shore of Kielder reservoir, before venturing further out when we were deemed sufficiently talented to do so. However, the disparity of skill in the group was immediately obvious when one or two members fell a sizeable distance behind the main group. After kayaking whilst being lectured about Kielder’s rich history, we slowly but surely headed back to dry land.
A few forgotten packed lunches later, we set out for our seven-mile hike around the Bull Crag peninsula. Soon though, one member of the group started grumbling and whining about how our walk was far too long for our own good. Despite this reliable advice, we continued and enjoyed the breath-taking scenery and invigorating fresh smell of nature.
Back at the lodge, room three promptly got cooking and dished out a delicious chicken and courgette pasta bake. Later that evening, an astronomer from Kielder Observatory came to speak to us in an open discussion type format. We started off talking about the lunar eclipse that occurred that night, but soon the conversation evolved into a philosophical debate on how we would approach life if it was found on Mars or Europa. This conversation was very informative and useful and everyone input meaningful ideas into the mix. This all made for an exciting end to a very eventful day.
Day 4 – by Ignacio M and Max T
We packed up our things and hit the road. En route, we ate crepes that Paul had spent his morning making while others were tidying the lodge. We passed through the Pennines, stopping to help a man push his car with a flooded-engine out of a deep puddle on a country road, and soon arrived at High Force.
Great amounts of water could be heard crashing down from the waterfall. We made our way down the path towards the river and we got to see it for the first time through the trees. Since there had been so much rain recently, there was a lot of water allowing all three streams to have a waterfall, which doesn’t happen very often. We could also feel the spray from the waterfall as it hit the surface of the plunge pool – when the wind is strong enough in the right direction, the spray can be felt from about 300 meters back. We hiked our way back to the carpark through a trail in the woods and got some delicious local ice cream before getting back on the road to Eton.