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Kielder Water

Freya and Robin

Not so long ago, not so very far from here, there lived a beautiful lady named Freya. Freya loved flowers. She loved the Wood Aven with its little strawberry flowers that smell like Christmas and protect against evil. She loved the Red Campion with their hoof-like petals stretching from the tips of magenta pods, decorated with tiny white curls. But most of all, she loved Foxgloves, tall figures dressed in soft bells, some in pink, some in white, and some spotted with the fingerprints of elves. Freya liked to think of the foxes ringing the bells to warn each other of danger and insects sheltering from the rain under their gentle parasols.

Red Campion

Red Campion

You could find Freya wandering across the moors wearing long dresses with big soft pockets full of flowers she’d collected. She carefully took her pickings home, and pressed them for keeping and to decorate everything around her.

Robin's hut

Robin's hut

Not so very far away from her, lived Robin. Robin lived in a wooden hut in the woodlands over the water from Freya. He spent his days walking through the woods, looking after the trees and the animals that lived in them. He liked climbing trees and building little wooden houses for the birds to lay their eggs in. He dashed about the forest playing swift and intelligent games with the deer and scrambled about helping the squirrels find their buried nuts.

Freya could see Robin across the water. She could see he was kind and careful with the trees and the animals and that he loved them as much as she loved the flowers. Mostly, he skipped about playing, but sometimes, Freya saw him standing, perhaps sadly, she thought, looking out over the water. She longed to be able to talk to him, to ask him if he was all right or what it was he was dreaming of. So one day, Freya decided to make Robin a gift of a wonderful cabin. She hoped that he would see the cabin from his wooden hut and then maybe he would make a raft or a boat and come to see it.

Over the next few weeks, Freya worked very hard to collect flowers and plants and small branches. She made a big flower press and carefully laid out her collection in the shape of a woodland, just like she imagined the one Robin lived in. For the walls, she arranged the strongest branches from thick to thin. And for the roof she made an enchanted forest ceiling with twisted branches tickling each other. She decorated the entrance with precious Foxgloves to invite the fairies in. Then she pressed everything tight together so they would be strong and crisp and last forever.

Freya's cabin

Freya's cabin

While she was making the cabin, she noticed that Robin spent more and more time dreamily looking across the water. She was thrilled for she thought he must be looking to see what she was up to. She was so excited that she went and collected as many tall, straight flowers as she could find and proudly balanced the cabin up on a thousand of the tallest straightest stems to be sure that Robin could see it properly. But Robin couldn’t see it properly; he couldn’t see it at all.

Freya lived on the South side of the lake, which meant that the sun’s rays lit up the landscape in front of her and she could see for miles. But Robin lived on the North of the lake, so when he looked towards the South the sun got in his eyes and all he could see was a golden blur above the lapping blue lake.

Actually, Robin was very fond of the golden blur and often stood admiring the hot fuzzy oranges and purples shimmer. It reminded him of an amazing place he had been told about when he was a little boy. He had heard the stories many times, that in the far North there is a magical place called Glimmerfell, where there are huge mountains pointing out above the clouds, covered with flowers growing from the rocks and the ice. Apparently, the flowers glow orange and purple because in Glimmerfell, it is always sunset. He found himself thinking of this place more and more, until eventually, one day, he decided to build a boat and set off to try to find it.

Of course, when Freya saw Robin collecting wood and beginning to build a boat, she was thrilled that he had seen that she had almost finished the cabin and was planning to row across the lake to see her. Over the next few days, Freya put the finishing touches onto the cabin and Robin built his boat and packed it with food for a long journey.

Then one morning, he untied the boat from its mooring, and set off. Freya watched expectantly as Robin rowed towards her. She felt she had never been so happy and excited in all her life. But after a short while, he seemed to be drifting away to the west and soon Freya realised that he wasn’t coming her way at all, but instead, was going in completely the opposite direction.
Freya couldn’t understand what she could have done so wrong. Not only did Robin not want to come and see the cabin she had made for him, he wanted to leave the lake completely. She sat down in the middle of the garden she’d planted by the cabin and began to cry. As Robin rowed further and further away, she became so upset, her tears turned into gold. She picked herself up and wrapped the cabin in the gold tears streaming from her eyes.

Meanwhile, as Robin was rowing away, he turned his head to look back at the lake he loved. He hoped everyone would be all right while he was gone. As he watched the familiar woodland slipping further and further away, knowing that he might not see his home for a long time, he noticed something glinting in the distance. He thought it must just be the sun in his eyes, but as he took one last glance, he saw it again, even brighter. He was so curious that he decided to row back and find out what it was. After all, he hadn’t gone too far yet.

As Robin approached the glimmering, it grew brighter and brighter and he rowed with all his might

As Robin approached the glimmering, it grew brighter and brighter and he rowed with all his might

As he approached the glimmering, it grew brighter and brighter and he rowed with all his might. Once he was quite near the shore he could see an unusual golden cabin that looked like it had a forest inside it. Then once he was very close, he could see that next to the cabin, someone was sitting and crying with her face buried in her dress. Robin quickly tied up his boat, rushed over, and gently swept the foxgloves so they sang soothingly. Freya lifted her head at the sound and saw Robin standing there with a concerned look on his face. A little embarrassed, she brushed the tears from her eyes and they fell like gold dew onto the surrounding grass. Robin offered his hand and she unruffled herself as he pulled her up. Seeing she was all right, Robin turned to the golden cabin. He was quite enchanted by it. Freya explained that she’d made it for him. Luckily, he had climbed inside for a better look just before she said this, so she didn’t see him blush!

Freya and Robin sat in the cabin all afternoon, talking about the trees and the flowers. Robin almost forgot he was planning to go to find Glimmerfell. He described to Freya, the cloud-collared mountains and the glowing ice-flowers. Freya was fascinated and asked him lots of questions he didn’t know the answers to because he hadn’t been there yet. Freya offered to lend Robin her flower press so he could collect some flowers to bring home. Robin said he wouldn’t know how to press the flowers properly and asked whether Freya would perhaps, like to go with him. Freya said she would love to.

So at sunset, having loaded Robin’s boat with some more food and Freya’s flower press, they set off on their adventure.
They didn’t leave very long ago, so they are still away adventuring, but if you can find them, you can see Robin’s wooden hut and the golden cabin that Freya made for him, facing each other across the lake, awaiting their return.

Freya's cabin

Freya's cabin

Freya's Cabin

Freya's Cabin

Freya and Robin,
Kielder Art and Architecture

with Peter Sharpe, Kielder Art and Architecture Programme; Price and Myers Engineers, and Millimetre

(completed 2009)

This project is for two structures to be placed on the bank of Kielder Water, Northumberland. The structures will provide a stopping place for visitors walking or cycling along the lakeside path. They will also provide visible markers or destination points from which to begin or end a walk or bike-ride.

Je and Freya

Je and Freya

Maria and Freya

Maria and Freya

For this project we are embracing the man-made nature of Kielder Water and Forest. We like to think of the area as a stage set or backdrop against which we can tell a story. Within the story, the water and forest are completely natural and our built proposal is to create evidence of the story’s characters and their adventures.

Path to Robin's Hut

Path to Robin's Hut

Robin’s Hut is on the North bank, on the edge of the woodland amongst fir tress and rocks.

Robin's Hut with a Tree-Neighbour

Robin's Hut with a Tree-Neighbour

Robin wanted to live by the woods where he loves to climb trees and play with the woodland animals.

Robin's Hut

Robin's Hut

He built himself a simple wooden structure…

Through Robin's Hut

Through Robin's Hut

…that he clad in timber shingles on this site surrounded by water that he felt gave it a remote, island-like feel.

Freya's Cabin in construction

Freya's Cabin in construction

The cabin that Freya built for Robin is in the image of what she imagined Robin’s woodland home to be like. She chose a spot directly opposite and lined up with Robin’s Hut, to give Robin the best chance of seeing her Cabin across the lake.

Freya's Cabin looking out

Freya's Cabin looking out

For the walls she arranged the strongest branches from thick to thin.

Freya's Cabin in construction

Forest inside of Cabin

And for the roof she made an enchanted forest ceiling with twisted branches tickling each other.

Foxgloves at the Entrance

Foxgloves at the Entrance

She put Foxgloves at the entrance to invite the fairies in, then she pressed everything tight together so they would be strong and crisp and last forever.

Longingly Looking

Longingly Looking

She modeled it on her flower press and balanced it up high on the tallest straightest stems she could find.

Golden Stems

Golden Stems

When she saw Robin rowing away, Freya cried tears of gold and wrapped the cabin in them.

The structural engineers for both Robin’s Hut and Freya’s Cabin is Price and Myers

The main contractor for Robin’s Hut was Gavin Tremble (of the Tyne Valley)

Robin's Hut in Construction

Robin's Hut in Construction

The main contractors for Freya’s Cabin were Millimetre

Freya's Cabin in construction

Freya's Cabin in construction

Freya’s White Dream

In the freezing weather in winter 2009-10, Freya’s Cabin enjoyed her first White Christmas.

Freya's Cabin in the Snow

Freya's Cabin in the Snow

Here she is in her peaceful white dream…

Freya's Cabin looking over the freezing lake

Freya's Cabin looking over the freezing lake

Snuggling down against the cold…

Hunkered Down in the Snow

Hunkered Down in the Snow