The Sill – the UK’s National Landscape Discovery Centre

On Friday, we were lucky enough to be invited, after taking part in a photo shoot for the new and improved Northumberland National Park website,  along for a behind the scenes tour of The Sill, near Hadrian’s Wall.

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The architecture of the building has been carefully thought out, making it look like it gradually comes out of the ground, with the grass carpet running from top to bottom. We were treated to a tour of the building itself, and the carpeted roof, with both the architect and an ecologist from the Park.

The interactive exhibition inside is brilliant for all ages, and tells the story of the county of Northumberland.

This gives young and old the chance to learn everything they need to know about the Park and the surrounding area, from rock types to the best places to go for a walk.

There is also a new YHA on site, which can only be described as colourful, cosy and definitely family friendly. We were bowled over by the dining area and kitchen, as well as the wonderfully spacious rooms. We’ll certainly be staying here as soon as possible!

But don’t take our word for it, check it out for yourself!

Northumberland National Park Photoshoot

A couple of months ago, we were asked by Andrew at Northumberland National Park, if we would like to come along for a photo shoot in the Park, as part of the overhaul of their website. Of course, we jumped at the chance, and were highly flattered to be asked!

We met up at the Lordenshaws carpark, and spotted the rest of the group half way up Simonside. Johan had been asked to do some shots while running, and so trotted up to see what was going on. It was interesting for me to watch the photographer work, and be on the other side of the lens. Johan was in his element, flying up and down the track with the other 2 runners, taking direction and having a pose.

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Then it was my turn! We walked up to the first cup and ring stone on Lordenshaws, and were told to “Look excited about the rock!” and act natural.

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I’m terrible when it comes to having my photo taken, all I can do is grin like a cheshire cat, and it shows in these photos! Even when we were asked to ‘act natural and just talk to each other’, I struggled to keep composed. But I guess it makes for enthusiastic photos!

After a stop off and break in Rothbury, we made our way to the next stop; a picnic on the banks of Harthope Burn. Here, we were joined by a couple of families, giving the afternoon a more family orientated feel. Even though it rained, it was such a beautiful spot, and it was only a matter of time before Johan took himself for a paddle in the burn. Here, he was swiftly joined by a couple of the children who had come along for the picnic, and spent a few hours splashing around and climbing rocks. The girls loved it and reveled in announcing that ‘that man’ was going to show them the best way up the river.

I sat on the bank, out of the way, and took some photos of my own. It was lovely to see Johan having such a good time in the water.

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We thoroughly enjoyed the day, and still feel privilaged to have been asked to play such an integral part in the new website. It’s very strange, but so rewarding, to see ourselves.Picture1

The new National Park website is brilliant, and definitely worth checking out: https://www.northumberlandnationalpark.org.uk/

Northumberland Coast Part 1: Seahouses

We are so lucky to live so close to the beautiful Northumberland coast, and so last weekend we took ourselves on a couple of mini adventures, to explore the dunes and beaches north of my home town of Cramlington.

Johan had been away the previous week, and arrived back in Newcastle on Saturday morning. We had a wonderfully lazy late morning/afternoon catching up with each other after a week apart, but eventually we realised that we’d have to feed ourselves at some point! Neither of us could be fussed with cooking (that and there was nothing in the house) so I tentatively suggested a chippy tea. This then led to “Shall we have a look up the coast?” and “You haven’t been to Seahouses before, have you?”. And so we (I) packed the customary accompaniment of cameras, grabbed a couple of layers and headed for the A1. We decided to go the quicker, less scenic route on the way there as we were both getting hungry!

We arrived in Seahouses, found a parking spot (didn’t have to pay as we’d gone past the charge time – score!) and made a beeline for Neptune’s chippy, just across the road. We had only intended on getting some fish bites, but ended up with a full fish for me, and a battered smokey for Johan. Each with chips. The reputation garnered by this particular chippy is certainly founded in truth, as we sat and demolished our food in silence, punctured by “How’s yours?” … “Amazing, yours?”…”…muffled sounds of satisfied delight”. There’s nothing quite like chowing down on fresh fish and chips, sat outside with the dulcet tones of seagulls circling overhead.

Once we’d finished, we took ourselves for a lovely little wander along the dunes towards Bamburgh Castle, and down on to the beach.

 

Peak District Climbing Weekend

We recently spent a weekend in the Peak District, based at a bunkhouse just outside of Hathersage, dedicated to climbing, coffee and catching up.

It was a pseudo reunion for Johan and his Imperial University friends, who he doesn’t get to see as often as we would like. It was lovely to see them all again, and definitely made us realise that spending quality time with friends is the best tonic for a lot of life’s ailments.

…For a fella who professes to ‘not being a climber anymore’ he sure spent a lot of time hanging about on some grit…

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Early Easter at Eskdale

The weekend before Easter, we had our annual weekend at Eskdale for Johan’s mum’s birthday. We have been doing this now for the past 4 years (where has the time gone?!) and each time I fall in love with the valley a little bit more.

We are lucky enough to be able to stay with friends when we are over there (Johan’s god parents, who went to university with his mum) and I am continuously envious of their fabulous lifestyle. I have picked up a tendency to take myself away with a camera while we are visiting and shoot the surrounding fields, hills and land. Although, I often enjoy simply wandering around their gardens and shooting the wonderfully diverse flora and fauna that can be found there. They are always working on something, and have made constant improvements/changes to their land.

I always feel at peace when visiting Eskdale, it’s such a beautiful place, and I truly hope that Johan and I can emulate Peter and Fionna in our later lives.

Below is a selection of the images that I took while wandering around their house and garden, and more can be found on my Flickr page: https://flic.kr/s/aHskUEbs7k

A mini birthday escape

It was my birthday last Saturday, and so Johan and I escaped up to Scotland for a long weekend of relaxed celebrations. Due to his competing in the OMM 2015, Johan was entered into a prize draw to win a stay at the Hearthstanes Estate  self catering cottages. Luckily, his name was drawn out of the hat (so to speak), he’s so jammy! And so, we used the opportunity for a birthday getaway.

We had planned on getting out as much as possible and exploring the local area in more detail, rather than running around the place as Johan had previously done. We bought the relevant maps and packed an assortment of outdoor gear, ready to hit the surrounding hills and trails. However, I soon learnt that I was in dire need of a rest and so my mind and body decided to shut down and demand that I take things easy. Patchy internet access and lack of a TV allowed us to embrace the peace and quiet, and so we read and chilled out in our lovely little 1-bed cottage. It was so cosy and comfortable, and I found myself drifting off into naps periodically – I must have needed it!

We did go for a couple of wanders around the valley surrounding the estate and enjoyed a nighttime romp up a hill opposite our accommodation.

On the way home, we took a drive through the Tweedsmuir Hills and gawped at the snow-capped mountains; it was truly beautiful. I would definitely recommend staying in the cottages at Hearthstanes, especially if you are looking for a ‘getting away from it all’ break.