Finding peace in Northumberland



Dunstanburgh Castle from Craster


REPUBLISHED BLOG: Date of original publication 17.04.18


A week ago I had a close encounter with two red squirrels. Rounding a corner in a wooded area, one was frozen to the floor staring up with terror at my Mini, the other immobile on the wall next to me. They ran, I drove on, all of us with the good fortune to have found ourselves in deepest coastal Northumberland.

The terror of impermanence is what drives so many of us. We don’t have time to be, to dwell, simply to exist. My third trip to this wonderful corner of Britain found me yearning to sit once more on those exact rocks on the headland at Dunstanburgh castle, to reassure myself that despite tumultuous changes in my professional life, these waves are still crashing on these cliffs, this spray still thunders into my soul, and will do so long after temporal worries and anxieties are long forgotten. I can sit, can be, can simply exist.

And so it was that I had barely stopped the car at our extraordinarily comfortable holiday cottage in the understated haven of Embleton before I made my way to Craster for the short, grassy, headland walk to the castle ruins. For many of the ramblers that pass this way, this is a half hour walk. For me, with my determination to capture the vista with my senses before even lifting the 5D to recreate it, it takes 3 hours. Or more. Who’s counting when the wind is in your hair and the myriad shades of blue and motion fill your senses?

And at the end, the fulmars nesting, crying and gliding above the rocks I had conjured up in memories and dreams in landlocked Birmingham. Oh, those birds, and the mournful cries that speak to me of freedom and the edge of the world.

Back I trod the following morning, sharing my path with only the sheep. The golden hour was peaceful, solitary and beautiful in a way that only the most natural beauty can be. It will return, it has returned each day since. My physical presence is back in the city but my soul is always at the coast, dreaming and walking the path of artists and adventurers.

Until next time, Northumberland.