Tuesday, 24 February 2015

A Weekend in the Country

We went to stay with our friend Phil in Northumberland this weekend. He took us to as many beautiful places as it was possible to fit in, fed us delicious food and took us to the pub where we met a very interesting collection of local people. Below are some of the places we saw. 
This is part of the woods he works in. We had just climbed up a very steep bank, (I nearly didn't manage it!) and the sun came out, shining through the snow and trees.
 There is the greenest moss everywhere. 
 This little house is called 'Seldom Seen', as it is hidden out of view of the road. 
 A rabbit skull from near the river in the woods. 
 On Saturday we were joined by another friend Lynne, and set off for a tour of the area. This was the first place we visited. It is called Ashgill. I was so happy to visit a waterfall that you can actually walk behind! I have always wanted to do that. It made me thirsty standing behind all that fresh water.
Some of the photos are Phil's-the ones I am in! 
 As we were driving over the fells, we saw these men in the distance. They were carrying huge birds of prey.
We stopped and were watching them, and the man below came over to talk to us. They take the birds out hunting rabbits. They are Golden Eagles, His is a female from the Czech Republic. As he talked it eyed us in the car, possibly wondering if we were edible. It was a beautiful bird. He said that there were not many rabbits to be had. He also told us they have to be careful as the eagles will take small creatures such as dogs. he also said that he has to watch out for the other eagles as they will attack each other. He then said his didn't do that though, as she was 'a pussy cat'! While he was talking I noticed he did have one rabbit in his pouch. He has an arm brace to enable him to carry the eagle. He said that at the moment she weighs about nine pounds but in the summer that will go up to about twelve.

This photo is Phil's. Look at that face!
Next we went for a walk by a beautiful river and an abandoned lead mine called Low Slitt. It started to really snow while we were there. We were all very cold at this point and the snowy wind was whipping in our faces.

On the way back I found this tiny dead vole. Phil has a frozen mole in the freezer which he said I could have, but I forgot to take it with me. I hope he keeps it for me! It is the most amazing little thing with such soft fur.
 Everywhere we went were incredible views. When we stopped here I went to the wall to take a picture and spooked this sheep. He ran at first but then stopped and gave me a bad look before walking off into the sun.
Snowy sun or sunny snow.
 This sign has been here for quite some time I would say!
The last place we visited was an abandoned fluorspar mine called Groverake. (Video of it in 1998 when it was still working although it closed shortly afterwards) I love these sort of places-abandoned industrial and atmospheric. I would not have visited it on my own as it is a classic nasty horror film setting! There was a man there taking photos. He was only wearing a thin jacket and t-shirt, no scarf, hat or gloves and it was freezing! On our walks near rivers I found lots of small pieces of fluorospar. It is a pretty purple. I have just read that Blue John stone from Derbyshire is actually fluorspar. Fluorescence is named after it as it has fluorescent properties. I have my black light torch ready to see if mine has in a minute! It works! I haven't got the photographic skills to make it show in a photo but it is good! (There is a picture on this site of polished pebbles in normal light and ultraviolet light.)

I went inside this building. It still has lockers and lots of rubbish. 

The cause of the demise of fluorspar mining here was imported stone from China. 

We are planning to go back in the summer. I want to swim in the rivers like the locals!


Jenny Woolf said...

These are just fabulous pictures! They sum up the feeling of NOrthumberland. I've just been writing about falconry. It's a good thing to do in winter.
I really love these pictures, and it's hard to choose a favourite but I think it's the one of the hard rushing water

lynne h said...

thank you, sarah! that was lovely!

voles are the sweetest... and softest, little creatures.


Steve Reed said...

What an interesting trip. It looks COLD up there. I wonder what the fluorite (as we call it in the states) was used for? I had no idea it had commercial uses. I thought it was just a pretty purple crystal!

Sarah said...

Industrially, fluorite is used as a flux for smelting, and in the production of certain glasses and enamels. The purest grades of fluorite are a source of fluoride for hydrofluoric acid manufacture, which is the intermediate source of most fluorine-containing fine chemicals. Optically clear transparent fluorite lenses have low dispersion, so lenses made from it exhibit less chromatic aberration, making them valuable in microscopes and telescopes. Fluorite optics are also usable in the far-ultraviolet range where conventional glasses are too absorbent for use.
This is what wikipedia says!

Shell said...

I enjoyed coming with you on your trip. Loved all the pictures of the countryside. That picture of the eagle is amazing.
I'm sure in spring and summer it is equally beautiful.

Elizabeth said...

Bleak but romantic and evocative!
Beautiful photos of your weekend!

snoopydogknits said...

Wow! Your photos (and Phil's) are stunning! Felt like I'd come along too, in your backpack! :-) Ros