Washington Wetland Center – October 2019

After we’d visited NELSAM we still had a couple of hours of daylight so decided to visit WWT Washington Wetland Centre as it was only up the road from the museum and is always good for birds and otters. The Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust started out in Slimbridge, Gloucestershire, and was set up by Sir Peter Scott, (son of Scott of the Antarctic).  Peter became an Olympic sailing medallist and a well-known painter and broadcaster. He created the IUCN red list which measures whether species are threatened or endangered. He was the founding chair of WWF – and even drew…

Cragside – Rhododendrons June 2019

It’s cold here in the UK, the summer flowers have gone and the autumn leaves blown away, so let’s take a walk through the estate at Cragside and remember warmer times. “Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts.” Rachel Carson   “Plant seeds of happiness, hope, success, and love; it will all come back to you in abundance. This is the law of nature”. Steve Maraboli “If you truly love nature, you will find beauty everywhere.” Laura Ingalls Wilder “Nature always wears the colors of the spirit.”…

Watersmeet & The River Tyne

Any Geordie native will tell you he/she has the waters of the River Tyne running through their bloodstream, and I think it’s conceivable that after 15 years of drinking the tap water up her, that I have too. The Tyne has been romanticised in many a song, who can forget Jimmy Nail & Big River, or Lindisfarne’s Fog on the Tyne, or the beautiful Sailing to Philadelphia by Mark Knopfler and James Taylor. It’s even mentioned in a song by the country singer Gretchen Peters, in her song England Blues. When I first moved up here 15 years ago, I…

Allen Banks – part 2 – May 2019

Part 1 HERE So we’ve had a little rest and Sophie decides we’ll cross back over the bridge and walk along the upper paths to see if there are any bluebells there. To get to the upper pathways at the top of Staward Gorge, there are stairs in the side of the bank. These stairs are just the first section, and there were many more to climb, twisting and turning up the gorge. I have to confess that a) I’m not fit enough for this shit, and b) I whinged the whole way up. Sophie, of course, is used to…

Allen Banks – May 2019

Allen Banks and Staward Gorge is the largest area of ancient semi-natural woodland in Northumberland, and back in May Sophie and I decided to do a walk there along the river Allen, looking for bluebells again! Now owned by the National Trust it was originally part of the estate of Ridley Hall.  In the 1800’s the Hall was bought by Mr John Davidson of Otterburn for his wife Susan Hussey Elizabeth Jessup, granddaughter of the 9th Earl of Strathmore.  Susan  laid out 65 flower beds in the formal gardens and organised the system of paths, rustic bridges and summerhouses, not…

Embleton Bay ~ April 2019

Sophie and I are both members of English Heritage and the National Trust (saves a heap of money as we visit so many of their places) and so we receive emails from both advising us of events and so forth. Consequently we were quite excited to get an email from NT exhorting us to visit Embleton Bay and see the bluebells that festoon the dunes there. Wow, we thought, bluebells next to the sea, how cool, lets go! So off we went on a sunny spring day to shoot the flowers. To get to the bay you drive past the…

Cleadon – March 2019

After Sophie and I had finished looking around Souter Lighthouse we decided to go and have a look around Cleadon Village, but before we do lets have a quick look at the Lime Kilns just across the road from the Lighthouse. These mahousive kilns were built in the 1870’s. Limestone from the quarry and coal from the colliery were fed into the top of the kilns and heated to produce lime for use in agriculture and in the steel & chemical industries. The lime was loaded onto railway wagons known as the Marsden Rattler, and transported to the docks at…

Ormesby Hall & St.Cuthberts Church March 2019 – part 1

Ormesby Hall is one of the National Trusts smaller properties. Barely a Stately Home, more of an historic house really, but Sophie and I don’t mind small, and the place was surprisingly interesting. Shall we commence with the history bit? (Rhetoric question, gotta be done 🙂 ) *Long post alert ~ get the kettle on* The History Bit The Estate of Ormesby has been around since before the Norman conquest, and possibly takes its name from Orme who was a tenant thereabouts registered in the Domesday Book.  The Hall has a long history with the Pennyman family and was acquired…

Belsay Castle & Quarry Walk – Feb 2019

Our next outing is up in Northumberland, Belsay Castle and the Quarry Walk. The History Bit Back in days of yore, the first fortification at Belsay was an Iron Age hillfort, set on a hilly spur known as Bantam Hill.  Not a lot of info on that as no records exist of how big it was, or how long it was occupied, but in 1270 Richard de Middleton, Lord Chancellor to King Henry III had a Manor built there. The Manor stayed in the Middleton family until 1317 when Gilbert de Middleton owned it. At this point in history, Robert…