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“It’s no coincidence that it’s called the land of the far horizon. There’s one thing that this county has more of than anywhere else in the country, and that is space.” He camps overnight on the hillside and then says: “Some people start their morning with a nice cup of coffee. Others go for a brisk jog. Me, I do this.” With that, he leaps into the College Burn for a bracing dip, noting that “the streams here are the purest in England”. Praise indeed. Even the first series of Tales from Northumberland led to an upturn in bookings for the holiday cottages as awareness of the county’s landscape spread. This time, with the star of Soldier Soldier and Grantchester taking such a close look at College Valley specifically, the benefit looks like being even more pronounced.  Robson Green’s visit was featured in the second episode of More Tales from Northumberland, on ITV. To watch the programme it online, go to

Valley’s birds in good hands


ell, last year was another great year for the barn owls in the valley, with the box in the Wilderness fledging six chicks, the same as 2013. They were all ringed. The nest box in the Wilderness was replaced this year so hopefully the owls will find it to their liking. But the Whitehall pair were by far the most productive, with a record for the county – they had two broods, one of six and one of five. The coming and going from the shed was non-stop. You couldn’t help but watch them, which wasn’t very helpful when trying to get the odd job done outside. In the picture, right, my daughter Lauren has a close encounter with a fledgling in the hayshed at Whitehall, during ringing. There was some concern that we had no ring ouzels in 2014. I did see two pairs in the Dunsdale area in late April, but I didn’t see any young sitting on wires or fences last year, so can’t say how successfully they bred. John Steele, former ranger for the Northumberland National Park, said it was the first time in 32 years he’d not seen or heard any. This year, however, there have been quite a few sightings around Dunsdale. Peregrine falcons have been successful, breeding in the valley in their two usual sites. We think the Bizzle pair reared two and the Henhole pair reared three. The Henhole pair nested in an old ravens’ nest as usual, which might account for ravens being absent from the Henhole in 2014. Ravens were present in the Bizzle and page


at Elsdonburn, but the tree nesters in Fawcettshank were not seen, possibly due to the wind blowing down quite a few trees close to the nest site. The Elsdonburn pair reared at least two young, and we are not sure how the Bizzle pair fared. There were some redpoll in the young trees at Goldscleugh forestry, which I’ve not seen before. A pair of golden plover had one chick that I saw on Cheviot. Red squirrels are now colonising the young woods at Goldscleugh and as we are about to fell the remaining mature trees in the area we can be happy that they will move to the young blocks.  Stephen Crees, Estate manager

The Sir James Knott Trust The College Valley was bought with funds originally provided by the Trustees of the late Sir James Knott, a north-east industrialist, MP and philanthropist. He died in 1934, but his spirit lives on through the Sir James Knott Trust. The Trust’s website can be found at

The Valley summer 2015  

News from the College Valley Estate in Northumberland.

The Valley summer 2015  

News from the College Valley Estate in Northumberland.