Simonside hills

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Simonside hills
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The Simonside Hills lie on the northern-most edge of Harwood forest and have beckoned walkers for years because of their wild and rugged beauty. The range dominates the skyline forming a dramatic southern backdrop to the middle reaches of the River Coquet. The climb up the hills is rewarded with the whole panorama of the Cheviots to the north and from the top of Simonside itself the whole Northumbrian coastline is revealed.The whole area is popular with walkers and climbers at weekends, so it is best to try and visit very early morning. A midweek visit is better still.
Simonside car park offers a sheltered wooded picnic area, an information point (unmanned) and is the starting point for three waymarked, colour coded walking routes. Details of these walks are given at the information point in the car park.
Waymarked walking routes explore both forest and hill and range from just one mile in length and nothing too steep to over four miles with a climb upto 430 metres.
The conifer woods have the same species as nearby Harwood and Thrunton wood,however it is the upland birds which are the main attraction at this site. Clear felled and newly planted areas attract both cuckoo and whinchat (left) in spring and early summer, whilst woodcock patrol at dusk.

above:Whinchat by Darren Rees.From 'Bird Impressions' below.

Click here for a location map.....

From the car park and picnic area (drive all the way along the tarmac road to reach this point), take the red trail. This is the only coloured route that takes the visitor on to the tops of the simonside hills and onto the moorland.This circular walk takes around two and a half to three hours to complete (more if you intend to explore) and requires a certain level of fitness.The walk involves a steady climb of around half an hour of just to clear the coniferous areas before becoming even steeper.However once the summit is reached the view on a fine day is very rewarding. Best in spring when ring ouzel can be found on the more remote crags, red grouse and golden plover call and there is a good chance of seeing merlin and peregrine.

There are also records for other raptors, including hen harrier, hobby, golden eagle (scarce immature vagrants), buzzard and goshawk.
There is an old local proverb which says;- 'When Simonside puts on his cap,rain is sure to follow' and venturing up on to these hills (simonside 1400ft, Old Stell and dove crag 1200 ft) should be done keeping one eye on the weather, which can change very quickly even in summer.Waterproof clothing and good footwear are essential for this walk.

Ring ouzel and whinchat by Darren Rees, from the beautiful book 'Bird Impressions' below.
Ring ouzel by Darren Rees.From ' Bird Impressions' .
Bird Impressions

Bird Impressions

Darren Rees has a passion for painting and a passion for birds. Bird Impressions is his first solo book and is a collection of over ninety superb watercolours.These are based on his observations in the field and are accompanied by lively sketches and vivid captions that evoke beautifully these encounters with birds in Wales.The paintings are taken from Anglesey, Skomer, Bardsey and Mid-Wales, and portray a wonderful variety of birds with winter ducks, summer seabirds and migrant rarities.
The young artist's work has attracted much critical acclaim and many awards, and his style is a refreshing departure from the more conventional norms of wildlife art.Using the medium of watercolours with a bold yet traditional technique he captures so effectively the light, the form and the essence of birds.His impressions are blocks of colour and strokes of paint arranged to convey life.Darren Rees is now recognised as one of the country's leading bird artists and Bird Impressions brings his paintings to the wider audience that they so richly deserve.The book is surely a treasure for both lovers of birds and lovers of art.Swan Hill Press 1993.

Click here for ordering details.....

Recent bird photographs from the Simonside Hills
Birding video from the Simonside Hills
Simonside area Twitter
Simonside Links
Birdwatching Accommodation in the Rothbury area
Suggested Birdwatching walks around Simonside

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