Journeys in the North East (Part 1) - The Strother Hills

Blog - Phil-osophy on Landscape Photography > Journeys in the North East (Part 1) - The Strother Hills
17/11/2014 - 12:33

After 10 hrs / 420 miles on the tarmac snake from Devon, I wearily reached my friend John’s house at Rowlands Gill, a leafy suburb of Gateshead - in the North East of England. It was Halloween and typical of the legendary Geordie hospitality I was welcomed into a house party with cheerful company, food and drink... though the first offering was of vodka jelly which was politely accepted in light of my request for a coffee instead at first!


Wisely I didn’t get drink too much grog whilst chatting to the ghouls, zombies and vampires - as I was keen to explore the area the next morning and hoped to make some photographs in an area far from home.



Day 1


The weather was, in the words of Harry Enfield’s character Mr Cholmondeley-Warner, “markedly clement for the time of year”. I awoke at 8am to gaze out of my window to blue skies and whispy clouds and enthused to see Red Kites (Milvus milvus) gliding across the canopy of the vast neighbouring woodlands in search of prey as they floated on the thermal uplifts of a warm autumnal morn.


Breakfasted, we headed out into the Strother Hills Nature Reserve, the gate a mere 20yrds from the house I was staying at. The path led down through mature oaks and beeches, then through one of Natural England’s designated Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).



'Strother Hills'  - birch, beech and oaks in the eastern side of the Strother Hills nature reserve.



The SSSI surrounds a small beck which runs out of a mire / fen in the midst of the wooded vale and is full of character. Ferns, mosses, and fungi grow on and around fallen trees amidst the swampy ground and I am informed in summer there are significant wild flowers and butterflies there too. A glimpse could be caught of the sun shining on distant clusters of gilded silver birches, catching autumnal sunlight on the far bank. We made our way slightly westwards and a young beech tree resplendent in its golden cloak, upon the edge of the mire, caught my eye.



'Strother Gold' -Transient autumnal light filters below the canopy, to fall upon beech, birch & bracken in the charming Strother Hills S.S.S.I.



We wandered further round the woods and came to a lofty overlook to the south, with transient light flickering in often large bursts across the canopy of the Strother Hills woods and into Lintzford Woods


'North Bank' -  bright autumn sunlight bathing the north bank of the Strother Hills and the pines of Lintzford Wood beyond.



The woods here are a corridor of much the larger 360 hectares of Chopwell Wood. The northern side of the woods here used to have a mining railway line running through it from the late 1800’s, linking to the Derwent Valley Line. It’s industrial past now indiscernible, shrouded in open healthland and coppices of birch which join the wooded valley below. The ever present Red Kites circled above, though I was damned if I was able to get a decent photo of one of them, instead I decided to just sit there for a while and admire these elegant birds of prey gliding across the hillsides.






Margaret and John
19/11/2014 - 13:22
Waxing lyrically, Phil takes us on a journey in such a way that we feel we are there...immersed in the greenery of the woods and other places of beauty. Autumn colours captured, producing a cracking composition!

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