Enjoying our county
Our lead image is of a couple out walking along a heather track, heading east with the North Sea on the horizon. It is for many of us the archetypal way of enjoying the deeply satisfying experience of the countryside at its best, unspoilt, achingly beautiful and utterly tranquil.
For some, however, especially those who have energy to burn and like to test themselves, it is all too tranquil. These folk see the countryside as a place for activity and challenge, with the open air and natural landscapes thrown in as an extra. Fell running, for instance – long associated with the Lake District – is growing in popularity in Northumberland with a regular programme of events.
If wild creatures are your passion, and you are one of those patient folk who like to spend long hours cooped up in a hide with a pair of field glasses and a ‘Spotters’ Guide’, then Northumberland is just the place for you, with nature reserves and bird hides a-plenty..
But for walkers, there is no other county in England that offers so many stunning routes where one may walk for hours without bumping into more than a handful of sheep or a few wild goats.
But one should never forget the work done by CPRE and other groups to safeguard our countryside. National Parks and Landscapes (previously known as Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty) did not come about by chance but by the concerted efforts of campaigners of the past. Now it is our turn to oppose inappropriate developments – wind turbines that blight the horizons of treasured landscapes, mine works near our best beaches or pastoral valleys, electricity pylons that cut across unspoilt vistas.
If we don’t, one day our wild places may cease to be a vital source of solace and escape where we can challenge ourselves and find the natural man or woman lost within our urban lifestyles.