The Simonside hills

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Simonside
Dominating the mid Coquet valley from whichever direction one approaches, stand the coarse fell sandstone hills of Simonside.Still retaining the distinct traces of glacial erosion they provide spectacular views of not only Coquetdale but Tyneside, much of the Northumbrian coastline and Cheviot hills to the west. Various peaks make up the range (from east to west): Gorley Pike 800ft, Lordenshaws hill 879ft, (here there are the remains of a British camp) Spy Law or 'The Beacon' 1181ft, Newton Peak 1295ft - then comes Simonside proper with its three peaks, Old Stell and Dove Crag 1203ft, Simonside 1401ft, Tosson Peaks with its cliffs to the north 1409ft, Tosson Hill and Ravens Heugh crags 1459ft, on the extreme west is Whitefield hill 1140ft and finally lower down the green flat topped Tosson Burgh 746ft.
The Birds

The Birds

Simonside's birds are similar to those of the upper Coquet and, as with most upland and conifer habitats, require patience.However these hills are still one of the best places for Ring ouzel, merlin and peregrine (right) , (hen harrier in winter).Breeding birds include the ubiquitous Meadow pipit, Red Grouse, Golden Plover, Snipe, Curlew and possibly Dunlin and Short-eared owl.Many walkers and climbers visit this area in midsummer so it is advisable to visit in the spring (mon-fri if possible) in the early morning or evening.

Timing

All Year; Sparrowhawk, Kestrel, Goshawk, Red Grouse, Grey Partridge, Pheasant, Snipe, Woodcock, Woodpigeon, Stock dove, Tawny Owl, Meadow pipit, Wren,Dunnock, Robin, Thrushes, Goldcrest, Tits, Treecreeper, Jay, Corvids, Linnet, Redpoll, Crossbill.
Spring-Summer; Merlin ,Peregrine,Golden Plover, Cuckoo, Tree pipit, Redstart, Wheatear, Ring ouzel, Wiilow Warbler, Chiff-chaff,
Winter; Possible Hen Harrier, Golden Eagle has been sighted on more than one occassion.
Access; 3 miles (4.8km) south of Rothbury on the B6342 Scots Gap/ Wallington road.Turn right onto an unclassified road which is signposted 'Simonside'. Carry on past the first car park on the right until you reach the Forestry car park set amongst the trees.Here an information board details several circular walks.The Red trail takes around two to three hours to complete and is the only one which leads to the moorland and peaks.It entails a steady climb through coniferous woodland (half an hour) before becoming steeper.Therefore a certain amount of fitness is required to climb to the top.Once here however the views on a fine day are quite breathtaking.Add the sounds of Red Grouse, mewing Buzzard and the plaintive whistle of Golden Plover, and the whole experience is quite memorable.

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The Birder's Market | E-bookstall & birding Apps | The Birder's Guide to Coquetdale (Northumberland) |  The Simonside hills

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