- The Kielder 4×4 Safari proceeds go to Northumberland National Park Mountain Rescue Team
- £60 per vehicle which includes breakfast for the driver
Early start for the 140-mile drive from Lancashire to Northumberland via Carlisle in our Land Rover Defender 110 Td5.
Got to Kielder Castle, Hexham for 8am where one of the leaders of the safari was already there in his Freelander 2, we were joined shortly after by John and his Discovery 2 a fellow explorer on his first trip out in the Discovery.
We got given a welcome pack which included a breakfast token for the Dukes Pantry at the Castle and a pass for the Land Rover, so after parking up we wandered over to the cafe where we got a nice cooked breakfast with the token and purchased another for £7.50. We chatted to John and the other guys going on the Safari as they trickled in, with some time to kill we then took a stroll around the castle grounds and tried out the Minotaur Maze and the Gruffalo trail.
We headed back to the car park to get ready to set off just before 10am with a quick briefing and introduction to our guides for the day, there were 3 cars all fitted out with CB radios the leader was in a Japan sourced White 50th Anniversary V8 Defender 90. In the middle of the pack was a Ford Ranger and following up in the rear was a Freelander 2.
What followed was a day of driving the forest trials as used by the Forestry Commission to manage the park, we headed out utilising a convey system where it was our job to keep the cars in front and behind us in sight and to slow down if the car behind fell back. Stops for driver changes and photos were encouraged and we got to see some amazing views. The convoy headed back to the Castle car park for lunch and to use the facilities, everyone had brought their own supplies so we ate around the cars chatting to the others on how they'd found it and generally talking about the trails and the cars. Lunch was soon over and it was back out into the forest, after a while it did get a bit repetitive and the planned final stage was scuppered by a locked gate, the trail it led to will remain a mystery. In terms of driving there was only one section that needed the diff lock to be engaged and although we used low range we could have got away with 1st gear on the high range for most of the day, this safari is mostly about the scenery if you want a hardcore off-road day you’ll need to look elsewhere.
The day ended at a local reservoir and not the castle, due to the locked gate which put a good hour onto our home journey, we finally got back 14 hours after we'd left.
Overall, we had a good time, but it was a long day travelling from Lancashire followed by a full day driving and then heading home afterwards. If I was doing it again I'd find some local accommodation to break the travel up. Having a CB radio of some sort would also have been handy to keep in touch with the other drivers and find out what was going on. The Kielder 4x4 safari gets 4/5, we’ll likely be back at some point in the future.