Winter moving in

After a mild autumn, the last few days have shown winter is not far off. With strong winds and rain lasting for several days, winter showed an early hand with a scattering of hail and sleet yesterday. Being stuck inside doing work this weekend didn’t seem so bad with the weather so awful. However, with the closing of my laptop came some brief sunshine. I took the opportunity to go for a short walk around Wybunbury Moss before the darkness drew in.

The scenery around the Moss is certainly now more wintery than autumnal. Most of the trees and hedgerows are now bare but for a last few oak leaves barely clinging on. The grass is fading away from its lush green and is now more waterlogged than usual, following the recent rains.

The wildlife is also more of the colder months with the redwings and fieldfares moving through and finches and starlings flocking in the fields. The sounds of the spring and summer months have long gone and a silence is falling upon the meadows and trees. I heard a true winter sound from the Moss itself – the staccato, tinkling whistles of teal, gathering to spend the season in amongst the small pools in the Moss-side woodland.

With the darkest days of the year to come, those summer months seem a long way off.

Northumberland Coast in Autumn

I spent last weekend up on the Northumberland coast, staying in the small harbour village of Seahouses. It was my first visit to the county and I loved it. After arriving via a drive through the Scottish Borders, I settled in for three nights in a comfortable little cottage just a two or three minute walk from the little fishing harbour.

After unpacking, I went for a walk along the nice sandy beach between Seahouses and Bamburgh, nearly up to the castle, under a lovely clear sky and bright autumn sun. Once darkness has fallen, I returned to the beach for a nocturnal run along the sand – running under clearly visible Milky Way was pretty special (and beats pounding the streets where I live).

After a pre-breakfast walk around the harbour, watching the sun rise on a freezing cold dawn, I spent the day watching for wildlife. I first headed out to Bamburgh and the sea front to watch for sea duck and purple sandpipers and then went off to spend the rest of the daylight hours on Holy Island. The tide times were just about perfect with the causeway open from 11:00 until well after darkness had fallen. I had long walk around the island, visiting the village, castle and beaches (unfortunately, the castle was under a mound of scaffolding). As I returned to Seahouses in the evening, there was a starling murmuration over the town, the first I’ve seen this year and a nice highlight to end the day.

After another pre-breakfast walk, the next day I had a long wander along the coast to the south. I started at Embleton and walked north up to Beadnell and then turned back and headed to Dunstanburgh Castle. It was an incredibly windy day with speeds of 30mph and guts of over 40mph. Walking northwards into the headwind was difficult but sideways on to the wind walking was almost impossible. By the end of the day I knew what sandblasting felt like. I spent dusk at the harbour at Beadnell, on a lovely shallow beach with the waves coming crashing in forced on by the still strong wind.

I had a final dawn walk around the village before setting off home after an all too short stay. The Northumberland coast in autumn is a place of stark beauty. Under clear skies with the low sun there is a warmth to the light but when the weather closes in, its a harsh and battling place. The countryside is low and rolling and the beaches wide, shallow with soft light sands all providing a backdrop to the hard walls of numerous castles.

This was my first visit but it won’t be my last – Northumberland is on my list for a return trip.


Bar-Tailed Godwit


Purple Sandpipers




Scottish Borders

It seemed very odd today to cross the Scottish Border and to turn right. Usually, I head straight on and towards one of the Hebridean islands but today I was travelling from Carlisle to Seahouses on the Northumberland Coast. I decided to take a circuitous route via the borderlands as I’ve always wanted to see this bit of the English/Scottish overlap.

I travelled through Hawick, Jedburgh, Kelso, Coldstream and Berwick-upon-Tweed before heading south through Bamburgh and stopping at Seahouses. In some ways these seem like names of the far north but compared to my usual Scottish haunts, they’re very much south.

It was a beautifully bright and clear morning and it stayed like that all day and into the dark evening. This was quite a memorable, but short, road trip along the rolling and twist country roads of the border country.