Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Simonside Hills

‘In a document dated to 1279 Simonside was called Simundessete. By 1580 the name had become Simontside. The name may be a corruption of Sigemund's seat or Sigemund's settlement. Sigemund or Sigmund is the name of an old Germanic hero from the Volsunga Saga and the Nibelungenlied who is mentioned in the Anglo-Saxon poem Bewoulf. WW Tomlinson, in his Comprehensive Guide to Northumberland (1916), stated that "Simon of mythology was, it seems, a domestic brewer to King Arthur, identical with the German Sigmund, and very fond of killing dragons".  This points to the possibility that the Simon of Simonside Hill is the Sigemund mentioned in Beowulf and subsequently Norse and Teutonic myths.’

Above taken from a piece on Wikipedia

View from the Simonside ridge.

25th Mar.  Despite the slight diversion Carmel, Sam and I had a great walk in the Simonside Hills today during which we took in the Simonside ridge walk.  I was puffing a little as soon as we left the Forestry Commision car-park and joined a slow ascent and the puffing increased dramatically as I scrambled, for want of a better word, up the climb onto the ridge.  As Sam politely reminded me ‘You're getting older you know’.  I’ve been a little poorly this week so that is my excuse and I reckon with a bit more excercise I’d be able to cope with this walk rather better.  I did have a heavy bag on my back too, but enough of the excuses!

Red Grouse where it looks best.

As we approached the area we found the likes of Common Buzzards and Stock Doves, and a Roe Deer scampering along the road seemingly unable to get over the fences back to safety.  Once parked up we watched a lone female Crossbill feeding high up in the trees, otherwise it was Great, Coal, Blue Tits and Chaffinches.

On the ridge
On the way down
The walk was a recce for an RSPB walk in May.  In light of the difficulties we are reconsidering the route we take.  We don’t wish to be loosing anyone.  Birdlife was limited, but the walk offers so much in atmosphere and views across Northumberland including the Cheviots and coastline, the limited ornithological interest didn’t concern us and in any event by the time of the official walk we think there will be more about.  We did have Red Grouse for company on almost the entire walk, Kestrel, more Common Buzzards, two (possibly three) pair of Stonechat and Meadow Pipits.  I believe Sam heard Raven.  The calling of those Red Grouse was coming from all directions and we had some very good sightings of these birds in the rugged conditions.  When occasionally the Red Grouse calls stopped the silence up there in a windless atmosphere was something to behold.

Red Grouse on alert
Red Grouse heads off.

A walk that is well worth the effort and those views are stunning.  I’m feeling great…….up to now!

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