Countryside of Contrasts

First there is Hadrian: milecastles, hill forts and temples and bucket loads of history from its turbulent English – Scottish conflicts. Where man and beast walk on the wall.Hadrian's Wall

sheep on wall

Then there are the green fells and bubbling rivers stained tea brown from all the tannin, and the heather-clad Pennine landscape where sheep abound and rare alpine plants can be found.

Cottage Mile after mile of roller coaster roads with their blind summits and hidden dips, twisting hairpin bends and narrow single lane bridges arching over wee burns. And long forgotten viaducts striding over a river many vertiginous feet below.

lambley viaduct (2) Invigorating walks lead past houses built in a golden stone with pots full of bright red geraniums and purple petunias cascade and where inviting tea-rooms with a friendly welcome are set amidst old rail tracks. Stop at a traditional pub, some dating back to the 12th century, others used as a meeting place in the Jacobite Rebellion, where smiling bar-staff greet you with their warm northern accent and make you reluctant to leave.

The Garden Station Explore villages and small towns where houses are crammed together supporting one another, wander down hidden snickets and narrow cobbled lanes with secret gardens. Where churches with ancient churchyards are open at all times welcoming strangers to view their beautiful stained glass windows, bell towers, carved pulpits and unusual altars or simply to admire the craftsmanship of the home-made pew cushions, lovingly stitched by the congregation.

Alnmouth Finally there’s the coast and the castles. Wide, sandy beaches, river mouths and harbours and huge dunes with wild flowers. Tide timetables to consult, micro breweries and Craster kippers to taste, seals and summer sea-bird colonies to see and a walk to a castle last occupied during the Wars of the Roses. A church cut off from its village by the river changing its course in a violent storm over two centuries ago. History is around every corner.

lindisfarne 257

Derwent reservoir
Derwent reservoir

Herons and cormorants and twenty-five white swans on the River Coquet at Warkworth, swifts and finches flying in and out of the barns, stopping to briefly rest on the top of a stone wall beside you, but not long enough for a photo. The call of an owl, the sighting of a hawk. Dozens of rabbits scurrying around a churchyard at dusk. Grouse strutting nonchalantly along the lanes as if they know it’s not the shooting season.

sheep And the sky – the big open sky – cumulus clouds, a rainbow over the fells, the zillion stars and the Milky Way. You want to gaze at it all the time. Your eyes are drawn upwards.  And driving home in the dusk after a very long day you round a final bend and slam on the brakes as a young deer glides across the road in front of you. It stops, hesitates, eyes shining in the headlights before turning around to disappear back into the gloom of the woodland from whence it has come. Serendipity.

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I have lived in the UK for most of my life, but when young I definitely had wanderlust and even ended up living in South Africa for several years which was a wonderful experience. I now look forward to a long and leisurely retirement doing what I like most - gardening, photography, walking and travelling.

74 thoughts on “Countryside of Contrasts”

      1. I’m going to Leeds, but we’ve have planned a road trip in Scotland end of June/beginning of July ! I’m very excited. I’ve only been to Edinburght, stirling castle, loch lomond and the loch ness, but there is still so much I would like to explore 🙂

        1. That should be lovely – slow travel up the east coast of Yorkshire and Northumberland would be nice. Dumfries and Galloway is pretty too – very mild climate, not dramatic landscape as in the Highlands, but some fantastic gardens!

        2. For our road trip in Scotland, we don’t have time to visit Dumfries and Galloway, but we were thinking about saving it for another trip and visit this region by itself during a long weekend. I love gardens, so I’m sure I would enjoy this region as well 🙂

  1. And now that I’ve been to Northumberland, I can wholeheartedly agree. I’ve really barely seen any of it but i would love to go back!

  2. Jude, this is fabulous. This definitely lends itself to a poem. It could be considered just as it is as a “prose poem: a cross between prose and poetry. It looks like prose but reads like poetry without rhyme or a set rhythm. Often it has the imagery, density, quickness and freshness of language that are associated with poetry.” Prose poems can be long or short. “Sometimes it is hard to distinguish between poetic prose and prose poetry.” This is about the form from “Handbook of Poetic Forms.”

    Your language here is most definitely poetic, and this could easily be a prose poem. I’m not a lover of rhyming poetry myself. In one of several poetry classes I took, I learned that details from the physical world are the most important elements of poetry. You can write a poem about anything from the mundane to the spiritual. Pablo Neruda is famous for writing odes to apples, wine, books, etc.

    So my question is, do you want me to link this to prose of June 26 or to my next poetry of July 6?

    1. Thanks Cathy. The words simply rushed out of me on this occasion. I wrote them down in a notebook when back at home after the trip, trying to get down on paper all my memories about the place. Almost like an express train! A prose poem? Then link to the Prose post. I shall attempt a poetic version for you for July 🙂

        1. Grammar can always be fixed later after a freewrite! No worry there, Jude. Anyway, I think we should all get over the idea of perfection. It’s the trying that’s important. 🙂

  3. Like you say Jude “ history is around every corner” and in this post you have captured that essence and the beauty of the place. I’ll look forward to next months poem

  4. I must have seen this before because there’s a like, but no comment. I don’t remember it though, Jude. Cathy is mistress of the free write, isn’t she, but you certainly brought Northumberland to life. 🙂 🙂

    1. This has been reworked for her poetry invitation. I shall publish it next time she does one, but will it work without the photos?

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