Friday, 03 July 2020

North-East wonders

TO complement the Angel of the North, which is located south of Newcastle, Northumberlandia lies to

TO complement the Angel of the North, which is located south of Newcastle, Northumberlandia lies to the north, the largest land sculpture in Europe.

The reclining female form brings out the inner scream in the families exploring the four miles of paths around her.

From forehead, breasts and knees cries ring out and yet in a quiet corner the lark is so confiding that we observe his crest rising and falling as he searches for seeds in the cut grass along the margins of the trail.

In the longer grass parties of goldfinches move across the seed heads and a pair of wheatears pass through. From the summit you look down on the vast opencast Shotton coal mine: the sculpture was created from reclaimed land and next year, when the seam is exhausted, Shotton will be covered with trees for a bio-mass plant already under construction nearby.

Up the coast at Amble a retired lifeboat takes us out to Coquet Island for a sky full of arctic and common terns, screaming and wheeling with beaks full of sand eels.

The puffins of Staple Island in the Farnes are also bringing eels back to their pufflings in the burrows.

At this time of year you really can look into their yellow-rimmed inquisitive eyes. Soon they will have lost their bright beaks and have set off for a life on the waves in the North Sea and Atlantic until next March.

Cormorants, guillemots and razorbills perch on the seastacks beside the path while the kittiwakes feed their fluffy white chicks on precarious ledges below.

Over the coastline hundreds of swallows hunt to and fro from early morn until dusk as we walk the beaches and dunes, where the bloody cranesbill competes in pinkness with the northern marsh orchid. A lizard darts across the path.

It is hot enough to swim in the North Sea if you keep your body up in the top layer of the sun-warmed water.

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