In this latest instalment of Wild Horizons podcast, we travel to Northumberland in the company of John Dalrymple to visit his favourite local upland, the Simonside Hills. The Simonsides are an open expanse of upland just south of the town of Rothbury. Think heather-clad rolling hills, small sandstone outcrops and big skies and you won’t go far wrong.
“The Simonside Hills are quintessential Northumberland,” John thinks. “They are in the middle of the county and you can see from all over. It’s known as The Sacred Mountain.”
Despite being quite small, east-to-west it’s about eight miles and four miles north to south, the hills hold a special place in John’s heart and, as a child, were his first taste of adventure, escaping there from his home in Newcastle:
“When I was a kid, aged 13 or 14, we’d get the Corporation bus into town, then the bus to Rothbury. We would go there on Friday with just enough food to survive and stay three or four days. Sleeping rough, dossing in caves, chatting, having fires, walking for miles, scrambling. We knew every inch of the place. It was a magic place.”
And even today, from his rural home, closer to the hills, he is a frequent visitor, although his relationship to the area has changed with age:
“When I go there these days I take my time more. I spend more time looking at smaller bits, learning more about the local history, trying to see more in the places I have been visiting for years.”
So tune in to Wild Horizons and feel John’s love bring the place to life.
“I’ve had moments up there, special moments, amazing natural sights, temperature inversions and that. It’s spiritual. A moment like that stays with you forever.”
Listen to John take us around the Simonsides in the latest episode of Wild Horizons.
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