Calvert Kielder is a wonderful place. If you’ve read about my previous stay there, you’ll know why I love it so much. I returned to stay at The Straker Chalet. During our last visit in mid-November, it was freezing. This time, we had booked for March but our holiday was cancelled due to extremely bad weather and heavy snow, with Kielder’s roads closed. Although disappointed, Calvert Kielder gave us a few dates to pick from to rearrange our stay. We rescheduled for June and were excited to finally get there. The weather in June was a massive bonus compared to March, although it would have been nice to see it in the snow.
This time around it was Allan and me as well as my Mum, sister and nephew. We packed up the two cars and headed to beautiful Northumberland for three relaxing nights in the middle of the forest.
Having just arrived back from Amsterdam, I was looking forward to recharging my batteries and spending some quality time with my family.
Sunshine and blue skies accompanied us all the way from home to Northumberland. The two and a half-hour drive was pleasant and the last stretch through the Kielder Water and Forest Park was beautiful. We pulled into Calvert Kielder and Allan went inside to check us in. It was so warm, the birds were chirping and I was eager to get to our home for the next three nights.
The Straker Chalet
We had previously stayed at The Bradbury Chalet which sleeps four people in two rooms. We absolutely loved it, but as there were five of us this time we booked the Straker.
The Straker is the biggest chalet at Calvert Kielder with three bedrooms for up to six people. This was ideal for us. We booked directly with Calvert Kielder, but the last time we booked through Hoseasons.
There was space outside the lodge for both our cars to park. We parked under the carport which I think is great for all weathers as it protects you from the rain when getting in and out of the car but also keeps the car from getting too hot when it’s sunny.
There wasn’t enough space for my sister’s car under the carport but she was able to park right next to the lodge as well.
The Straker is stunning both inside and outside. The surroundings and views of Kielder Water and Forest Park from the lodge are equally stunning. It’s beyond peaceful.
Stepping inside reveals the true size of the Straker with its huge high ceilings. The long wide hallway had bedrooms and bathrooms leading off from it. The lounge/kitchen/dining area is at the opposite end of the hallway.
Lounge, Kitchen & Dining Area
The open-plan lounge/kitchen/dining area was where we spent most of our time. It was lovely and bright thanks to the massive ceiling-to-floor windows and bi-fold patio doors. This gave us the best views out into the forest and was even better with the amazing weather we had over the long weekend.
The lounge was amazingly spacious providing lots of room to move around in my wheelchair. There was an L-shaped sofa facing the wall-mounted flat-screen TV and woodburning stove.
I loved the coffee table made from an old wooden pallet. It was on wheels with breaks which made it easy to move around when needed. The same armchair in a difficult colour was in each bedroom too.
A few other seats were placed around the room including an orange armchair with a handheld pump which changed the seat cushion from hard to soft depending on your preference of comfort.
If entertainment is what you’re after then The Straker Chalet has that covered. Smart TV, Sonos music system, WiFi, Xbox, and a collection of DVDs and games to keep you entertained.
Can’t forget the telescope especially when you are staying in an area with one of the darkest skies in the world. The telescope is located in the mezzanine seating area on the first floor via a spiral staircase.
Obviously, I wasn’t able to access this part of the lodge but it was an area that my nephew enjoyed playing in. The telescope could come downstairs if you wanted to stargaze downstairs or outside.
The large round dining table was accessible and I was able to roll underneath. We gathered here for meals if we weren’t sitting outside and every night we would play games such as Monopoly and quizzes.
I love open-plan rooms so it was nice to have the kitchen, dining and lounge all as one. It makes moving between rooms so much easier for wheelchair users.
Usually, it’s difficult for me to fit and manoeuvre comfortably in kitchens but I didn’t have any problems in this kitchen. It was really spacious and stylish with all the mod-cons.
Sadly it wasn’t designed specifically for wheelchair users in mind. It was only the cooker that was lowered slightly which for me personally isn’t an issue as I’m unable to cook myself anyway.
Master Bedroom and Ensuite Bathroom
First up is the master bedroom. This is the room I took as it was the most spacious bedroom and bathroom. The super king-size double bed had an overhead hoist built into the unit above the bed.
The wardrobe was also inbuilt and had a light-up vanity table. This would have been perfect for doing my makeup but it was fairly close to the bed in order for me to manoeuvre and the vanity table itself was slightly too high for me. I loved this idea though.
The master bathroom was stylish and we all loved the tiles in the roll-in shower. The wall-mounted shower seat was able to fold up/down and had a grab bar next to it with the shower controls within easy reach.
There were cool shelves in the shower which were lit up and we were able to place our toiletries on it for easy access. A shower chair was provided, but I, unfortunately, forgot to get a photo of it.
The roll-under sink was good, but I feel it could have been a little wider in-depth as I had to remove my footplates to get in closer.
The toilet was next to the sink and there was a grab bar in between. I found the toilet was low, which was good for me as it didn’t affect my balance.
What was lacking in the bathroom was a ceiling track hoist. I found this a little strange especially as there was an overhead hoist in the bedroom. A wide sliding door divided the bedroom and bathroom, but it would have been great if there was a ceiling track hoist all the way through.
King Size Double, Twin Bedrooms & Bathroom
Next up is the second bedroom with a king-size double bed. This was the room my Mum took and it was a lovely room with lots of light streaming through during the day.
It was also spacious for wheelchair users. I liked that all the beds in the lodge had space underneath for accommodating portable hoists if needed.
Last but not least was the twin room. This room was the one my sister and nephew took. Again this was another large room that would be ideal for wheelchair users.
A two-seater sofa was placed in between the beds, but it was moved to allow the two beds to join together for my sister and nephew.
My Mum, sister and nephew shared the second bathroom with a whirlpool bath and shower. There was also a utility room that had a tumble dryer, washing machine, storage and cleaning bits and bobs.
The bi-fold patio doors led out to the large terrace area with a barbecue, garden furniture and stunning views. We even enjoyed a thunderstorm with the patio doors fully opened as we listened to the rain pouring down and the thunder rumble. The storm didn’t last long and once it had cleared we were back outside enjoying our BBQ.
One of the things we were excited to use was the hot tub. This was our first time using an eco-friendly wood-burning hot tub, so we were looking forward to trying it out.
What we didn’t realise was how long it would take to heat up. We arrived on Friday at 4pm and were told the hot tub water had been drained and refilled. There was no way it would be warm enough to use that night, so we decided to wait until the next day.
So on Saturday morning, we began the long process of filling it up with wood and starting a fire. Allan and my sister worked together to keep the fire going, constantly adding more logs to ensure the fire didn’t go out.
Nine hours later the water was at a suitable temperature to go in. My sister and I went in, but it got too hot quickly that we ended up not being able to stay in very long.
The hot tub didn’t get used again as we didn’t want to spend Sunday starting the whole process over again and wasting a whole day maintaining it.
It was such a shame as we all love hot tubs and were really looking forward to relaxing in it. At least we had the hydrotherapy pool in the centre.
At night the patio slabs would light up. The twinkly coloured lights mimicked the galaxy above us. The lights formed the same pattern as the stars. How cool is that?
Activities and Hydrotherapy Swimming Pool
This was a relaxing break away with my family, I chance for us all to unwind and that’s exactly what we did. As much as I enjoyed some of the accessible activities the last time we stayed at Calvert Kielder, I didn’t feel like I wanted to do them again.
On the other hand, I wanted to do the hydrotherapy swimming pool again. We booked either a one or two-hour slot for the pool each night. It felt good to be able to float around in the warm water and watch my nephew play and have fun.
The pool itself is great because you get it to yourself. There is also a hoist to help you get in and out of the pool.
Unfortunately, there is no ceiling track hoist in the changing room area, but I have seen a portable hoist in the centre/reception area.
There are a few changing room cubicles and a large area with an adult-size changing bed. You can shower before going into the pool or when you come out and there is even a shower chair available.
Accessible Nature Trail & Forest Walk
We enjoyed a walk through one of the nature trails on site. During our walk, we could hear thunder in the distance. Gradually it got closer so we decided to head back just in time for the heavy downpour.
It was a lovely walk with accessible paths throughout. It is always nice to get out and about in nature and it’s great to see my nephew love it so much too.
Kids Playpark and Playhouse
Since our last visit, the kid’s play park has been upgraded. It’s now a nice, bright area for them to play in. The wooden castle has a kitchen area at the bottom with a spiral slide as well as a standard slide, a climbing wall and swings.
The play park is covered in bark and there is a slight slope to get up to it, but I was able to manage in my powered wheelchair.
Kielder Water Bird of Prey Centre
On Sunday afternoon we decided to venture off-site and visit the Kielder Water Bird of Prey Centre. My nephew was really keen to see the different birds. We got caught in a light rain shower just as we arrived (hence the frizzy hair in the photos).
The sunshine quickly returned and we ended up having a brilliant time at the Bird of Prey Centre. It is wheelchair accessible, but there is quite a steep hill to reach some of the birds. I managed it in my powered wheelchair, but manual wheelchair users may struggle a bit with the steepness.
As soon as we arrived we were welcomed by the lovely staff and I was soon taking part in the flying demonstrations. Ray was amazing with us and his birds. I was a little unsure to begin with but Ray made me feel so comfortable and confident that I even had an owl on my head.
The demonstrations were so fun and informative. It’s a great opportunity to learn and see the birds up so close. You can tell how much they are loved and cared for by the team.
It’s a hidden gem that you should definitely visit when in the area. It has a very warm, family-orientated feel that makes you feel part of it.
Final Thoughts on Calvert Kielder
I’m sure you can tell we loved our time at Calvert Kielder. We went there to relax and that’s exactly what we did. What I love about Calvert Kielder is the combination of relaxation and activities. All activities are accessible with a great team of staff on hand to help. Calvert Kielder isn’t just for family holidays and activity breaks either.
There is also the option of residential respite care with accommodation, activities, dining and care included. If you are looking for an accessible holiday to either relax or enjoy some accessible activities then I highly recommend Calvert Kielder.