Tag: Northumberland National Park

Crystal clear; Cheviot Valleys Stargazing 11/12/2015

by on Dec.18, 2015, under Cheviot Valleys

Last Friday was an event that I’d been eagerly anticipating; leading a stargazing event at Kirknewton for the Northumberland National Park Authority.

Rain and sleet on the journey north wasn’t particularly promising, so I arrived at the village hall and set everything out for a slide show (just in case the weather didn’t cooperate…).  When Duncan arrived we set up a couple of telescopes in the hall, ready to be deployed outside if the cloud cleared.  Start time arrived and it had clouded over completely so, following Duncan’s introduction to light pollution and the Northumberland International Dark Sky Park, I gave a presentation on practical stargazing for beginners.  Duncan was keeping an eye on the weather and just as I finished the first section of my presentation the cloud cleared 🙂  Everyone donned hats, coats and gloves and we moved the ‘scopes outside, as well as arming everyone with binoculars.  The dazzling beauty of the Milky Way, Orion, the Pleiades, Gemini, Auriga, Taurus and the Andromeda Galaxy had everyone gripped by what can be seen when there’s little light pollution, and shooting stars were seen every couple of minutes.  Delicious hot soup and bread rolls finished the evening off nicely and there were lots of questions about how to learn more about stargazing.  We’ll hopefully be leading more events for the National Park during the winter; sign up and bring your enthusiasm and hat, gloves and plenty of warm clothing 🙂

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A walk in the park

by on Apr.20, 2012, under Birdwatching, Cheviot Valleys, Northumberland

There are days when the weather is so good that my resolve to stay in the office and get on with admin work gets stretched beyond breaking point…

Monday is my usual office day, but the afternoon looked promising and I soon found myself driving inland towards the Northumberland National Park.  Knee surgery last December has given my legs a new lease of life, and the uphill bits (which I always find more interesting from a birdwatching perspective) of the Cheviot valleys are no longer tortuous.  I only live 10 minutes from the coast, so you may wonder why I would drive for an hour inland…but one moment of the afternoon summed up everything that is special about our remoter areas.

Sitting on a boulder-strewn hillside I can hear a Ring Ouzel on the precipitous crag opposite me.  Along the stream far beneath my perch, Grey Wagtails and Dippers are bobbing their way downstream, flitting from rock to rock.  The complex song of a Skylark carries on the breeze, and Red Grouse cackle in the heather.  There isn’t another human in sight, no sound of motor vehicles, nothing that breaks the natural soundscape of this vast amphitheatre.  Then, black dots appear against the azure sky; two, no four, no wait, six Common Buzzards soaring high overhead, then smaller dots, a pair of Kestrels and a pair of Peregrines. A Raven joins the swirling mass of raptors and, above them all, an Osprey drifting lazily north.  I lay back against the hillside, and watch…

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Sustainable tourism

by on Mar.07, 2012, under Sustainable Tourism

What is sustainable tourism?  That’s a question we’ve pondered a lot since forming NEWT.

Discussions before, during and after the first Northumberland Sustainable Tourism Conference yesterday, jointly organised by the Northumberland Coast AONB, the Northumberland National Park and the North Northumberland Tourism Association, revealed that there isn’t really a concensus.  For some businesses it means following the mantra of ‘reduce, re-use, recycle’, for others it means sourcing everything locally (where possible…).  We’re in favour of those approaches, and our GOLD award from GTBS shows that we put them into practice.  For other business, including NEWT, sustainable tourism means more than this though, so perhaps a definition of sustainable might help?  There are many, but they can be summed up as ‘able to endure’.  Whatever one generation does shouldn’t compromise the ability of future generations to do the same.  The micro level of sustainability spread across lots of businesses minimises environmental impact, but will that be enough to sustain Northumberland’s tourism industry for generations to come?  It probably won’t, but it will be a very stable base for sustainability.  Some joined-up thinking is needed and there has probably never been a better time for control of the destiny of tourism in our beautiful county to be taken by the tourism businesses who actually understand the industry, the market and, perhaps most important of all, what Northumberland is all about.

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