Family discovery day at Simonside

AN events-packed Discovery Day has been lined up to help people explore and enjoy one of the North East’s most striking landscapes.

The Simonside Hills

AN events-packed Discovery Day has been lined up to help people explore and enjoy one of the North East’s most striking landscapes.

The Simonside Hills near Rothbury in Northumberland will be the location for the programme on Friday, August 1.

Simonside, whose distinctive outline is visible on the skyline from many parts of Northumberland and the North East, is believed by some experts to have been a sacred place in prehistoric times. The hills are steeped in history and legend, and are now an international Special Area of Conservation for heather moorland and blanket bog.

Earlier this year a meeting of organisations and individuals with an interest in and love of the Simonside Hills was held at Alnwick Castle.

The aim of the 100 or so participants was to pool ideas on how to make the most of Simonside while at the same time caring for and protecting the hills for the future.

The family discovery day is being mounted by Northumberland National Park with support from the Forestry Commission and local landowners. Around 60 older and less-mobile folk will be taking part in a Landrover Safari and picnic on Simonside to enjoy the spectacular views of Coquetdale and the Cheviot Hills.

Northumberland-based Shepherds Walks will be organising the latest offerings in GPS trail-finding, the legends and myths of Simonside will be brought to life by story tellers Jim Grant and George Millar, and national park and forest rangers will be taking families on visits to Simonside’s secret places and wildlife hideouts.

National Park archaeologist Chris Jones will accompany Coquetdale Community Archaeology Group in a guided walk around the prehistoric sites of the area while park ecologist Gill Thompson will join up with adult and children’s walks to give the lowdown on geology and wildlife.

Local farmers John Harrison and Vince Milburn will describe their working year and what it’s like to raise animals in a conservation area, and senior ranger Russell Tait will tell how the park looks after the area and makes sure that people can have access without damaging the landscape.

This year national parks nationwide are supporting Natural England’s Year of Food and Farming to draw attention to the benefits of local food and local suppliers. And a special “local food” picnic will be available at Simonside, supported by Natural England, with the proceeds going to local conservation projects.

For more information and booking, call (01669) 620887, email tic.rothbury@nnpa.org.uk  call in to the Coquetdale Centre TiC, Rothbury, or visit www.northumberlandnationalpark.org.uk

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