Northumberland

Kielder Forest: Europe’s biggest man-made forest

The skies here are the darkest in England, thanks to minimal light pollution. A stargazers paradise.

Pennine poet Simon Armitage passed through Kielder Forest in his ‘Walking Home’, a dour and wonderful travelogue along the Pennine Way: Read

Farne Islands: Largest grey seal colony on the east coast of Britain

The Farne Islands is home to the largest grey seal colony on the east coast of Britain. The National Trust  runs the island which also supports some 100,oo seabirds. Boat trips licensed to land passengers on several of the islands are available to see the 6000 adults and some 1000 pups born every year. For more adventurous diving trips are also organised, giving the opportunity of swimming with seals.

Birthplace of William Turner

The pioneering English naturalist and ornithologist William Turner was born in Morpeth, Northumbria around 1508. His Vacuum praecipuarum, quarum apud Plinium et Aristotelem mentio est, brevis et succincta historia is considered the first printed book devoted entirely to birds. Moreover, his A new herball, wherin are conteyned the names of herbes…  is considered the first clear, systematic survey of English plants, leading to him often being referred to as the ‘Father of English Botany”.

The town of Morpeth has recreated a formal Tudor physic garden planted medicinal plants and herbs, and named after Turner.

Birthplace of Thomas Berwick

Thomas Bewick perhaps “did more to make the general reading public interested in birds than anyone before him.” He was born in 1753 in born to a tenant-farming family in the village of Mickley, Northumberland. His A History of British Birds is still admired today in particular for its wonderful wood engravings. James Fisher noted: ‘Bewick was not a very good observer of natural history or a very original thinker on the subject. But when he died in 1828 . . . he had done for nature art what Burns did for poetry – put a little honest humanity in it.’

Coquet’s terns and puffins

The RSPB-managed Coquet Island is home to more than 18,000 pairs of puffins, but it is most important for the largest colony of the endangered roseate tern in Britain

Thanks to conservation measures including the provision of nestboxes to protect the nests from gulls and bad weather, has risen to 92 pairs in 2005.

Boats trips are organised from Amble on the mainland.

Chillingham cattle

Chillingham cattle are a breed of cattle that have been living in a large enclosed park at Chillingham Castle since the Middle Ages”


Simon Schama described the famous contemporary woodcutof the cattle by Thomas Bewick as “an image of massive power … the great, perhaps the greatest icon of British natural history, and one loaded with moral, national and historical sentiment as well as purely zoological fascination”