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northernvistas A CELEBRATION OF NORTH EAST LANDSCAPES

CALENDAR 2014


06

M T W T F S S

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27

© Graeme Peacock

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A new dawn breaks to herald a new day and a new year on the Holy Island of Lindisfarne. This magical and mystical place – reached via a 2½ mile tidal causeway encroached upon by North Sea currents which visitors ignore at their peril – will be forever linked to the memories of Saints Cuthbert and Aidan. It was from here in the 7th century that Celtic monks were to spread forth the word of God and so establish Lindisfarne as a cradle of Christianity in Britain. Located atop the volcanic mound known as Beblowe Crag, the distinct profile of 16th century Lindisfarne Castle (built in the 1550s using stone pillaged from the nearby demolished Priory) dominates the skyline. The current Edwardian country house owned by the National Trust owes much to the architectural genius of Sir Edward Lutyens following the purchase of the castle in 1901 by Edward Huston (founder of Country Life magazine). A truly evocative corner of Northumberland then. Was this photoshoot worth the previous sleepless night, spent in my car with two rather flatulent spotted canine assistants? Quite possibly.

NOTES

New Year’s Day (UK & Rep. of Ireland)

02

Lindisfarne Castle, Holy Island of Lindisfarne, Northumberland

09

16

23

30

03

10

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24

31

04

11

18

25

Bank Holiday (Scotland)

Robert Burns Night (Burns Night)

05

12

19

26

DECEMBER

FEBRUARY

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30

2

9

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23

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24

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31

3

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Ryton Willows, Gateshead, Tyne and Wear © Graeme Peacock Of all the many splendid liveries in winter, a hoar-frosted landscape bedecked in translucent ice crystals is arguably among the most beautiful. Ryton Willows comprises 43ha (106 acres) of picturesque local nature reserve with riverside woodland, grassland and protected ponds where wildlife and flora abound. Despite being 17 miles inland, the River Tyne is still tidal here and it is commonplace to see seals feeding and basking on the mudflats while elsewhere otters, kingfishers and shy roe deer add to the wealth and natural history of this semi-rural setting. During Edwardian times, much of Ryton Willows hosted a mini-fairground and a cafe. The site is also the only Registered Battlefield in Tyne and Wear. The Battle of Newburn Ford – a key pre-cursor to the English Civil War – took place here on 28th August 1640, whereby a 24,000 strong Scottish Covenanter army led by General Alexander Leslie defeated English Royalist forces numbering 15,000 strong commanded by Edward Lord Conway. The aftermath of the rout saw the Scots occupy the town of Newcastle, thereby obtaining a stranglehold on London’s coal supply and forcing King Charles I to agree upon an expensive and humiliating truce.

NOTES

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St. Valentine’s Day

01

08

15

22

JANUARY M

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09

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6

13

MARCH 20

27

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31

3

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Shrove Tuesday

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Durham Cathedral, Durham City, County Durham © Graeme Peacock The purpose of architectural floodlighting is a simple one. It must flatter and enhance the building below, to showcase the architectural integrity of its subject but never compete with it. Such a goal has been more than met by the new £600,000 lighting installation scheme for the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Durham Cathedral and Durham Castle. The Norman Romanesque cathedral is cherished not only for its architecture, but its singularly impressive setting on a promontory on a meandering loop of the River Wear where it has stood for almost one thousand years. An iconic landmark of North East England, Durham Cathedral also serves as the final burial places of St. Cuthbert and the Venerable Bede. In addition its Durham Dean and Chapter Library houses one of the most complete sets of early printed works in England, the pre-dissolution monastic accents, plus three copies of that prelude to the process that gave rise to the rule of constitutional law in the English speaking world, namely the Magna Carta. This particular view at dusk takes in the northern face of the cathedral across the frosted expanses of Palace Green.

NOTES Ash Wednesday

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St. Patrick’s Day

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FEBRUARY St. David’s Day

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23

30 Mothering Sunday British Summer Time Begins

APRIL

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April

07

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Easter Monday

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02

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The Angel of the North, Gateshead, Tyne and Wear © Graeme Peacock Controversy is undoubtedly the mainstay and lifeblood of the artistic world. Whether one likes or loathes it, and opinion does indeed vary widely, most observers would concur that the Gateshead Angel of the North is one of the most visible and discussed pieces of contemporary public art in the UK today. Believed to be the world’s largest angel sculpture, the £800,000 project opened in 1998 and its statistics are certainly worthy of mention. Standing some 20m (66ft) tall, near the A1 in Gateshead, the angel boasts ‘wings’ 54m (177ft) across to rival the span of a Boeing 747 jumbo jet, although they are in fact angled 3.5 degrees forwards to create – in the vision of the sculptor Anthony Gormley – a welcoming sense of embrace. In total some 200 tonnes of steel were used during construction and the distinctive surface ‘ageing’ patina is due to the copper in the steel. In much the same manner as it courts controversy, so too the angel craves longevity: it has been built to withstand 100mph winds over its projected 100 year lifespan. This particular view is captured from the north-west perspective in the last lingering moments of daylight.

NOTES St. George’s Day

03

10

17

24

Maundy Thursday

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25

Good Friday

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MARCH 06

13

20

Easter Sunday

27

MAY

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May

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Spring Bank Holiday (UK & Rep. of Ireland)

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Early May Bank Holiday (UK & Rep. of Ireland)

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12

Roseberry Topping, near Great Ayton, Tees Valley Š Graeme Peacock Admittedly, at only 320m (1049ft) tall, it may not claim any plaudits as the highest summit in the north east, but Roseberry Topping is arguably one of the most distinctive and well known. The iconic, half-cone sandstone summit and jagged cliff (the legacy of a combination of a geological fault and a 1912 mining collapse) has been likened by many to the Matterhorn in Switzerland, and on a clear day it affords peerless, uninterrupted views across North Yorkshire and Tees Valley and as far as the Pennines some 40 to 50 miles distant. For the scholarly inclined, Roseberry Topping was held in special reverence by medieval Viking settlers, who gave it its first name, first attested in 1119. It is believed that Roseberry Topping is one of only a handful of English pagan names recorded after the Norse god Odin. This particular spring view from the South captures the raking light of a spring evening amidst a glorious carpet of bluebells. A photographer’s paradise and proof positive that the diminutive stature of Roseberry is more than countered by its many charms.

NOTES

APRIL M

04

11

18

25

-

7

JUNE 14

21

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M

30

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June

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Poppy fields near Wylam, Northumberland Š Graeme Peacock If ever there was one flower which is synonymous with the advent of long, sunny summer days then surely credit where credit is due must go to the Papaver rhoeas or the red flowered corn poppy and its scarlet blanketing of fields and hedgerows. Throughout recorded history the use of poppies as a symbol of sleep, peace, death and also resurrection has been practised since Greek and Roman times. The significance of the flower will assume particular resonance this coming autumn with the Centenary of the start of World War I. Poppies also have multi-various purposes ascribed to them in the fields of medicinal drugs, foodstuffs as well as being employed in the preparation of paints, varnishes and cosmetics. This vista was captured near Heddon-on-the-Wall on a thankfully windless morning, looking westwards along the Tyne Valley. In the opinion of local people, this was one of the best displays of summer flowers seen at this location for over 40 years. Moreover, since poppies are in bloom for only one week per year, careful timing, patience and a decent weather window are crucial elements in achieving that one successful image.

NOTES

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07

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28

MAY 01

08

15

Father’s Day

22

29

JULY

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26

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28

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July

07

M T W T F S S

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28

Newcastle and Gateshead Quays, Newcastle upon Tyne, Tyne and Wear © Graeme Peacock

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As the Ancient Mariner might have remarked from his overlooking vantage point on the Ouseburn, ‘like a painted ship upon a painted ocean’. The architectural symmetry of Newcastle and Gateshead Quays is certainly at its very best when savoured on a calm, breathlessly still evening. Only a few decades ago, even the most parochial of observers would have been hard-pressed to sell this view as anything other than a distressing industrial wasteland. Today the transformation draws admiring praise from far and wide, spearheaded in no small part as seen here by the cultural trilogy of BALTIC, the Sage Gateshead and of course, the multiaward winning £22m Gateshead Millennium Bridge which spans 126m (413ft) across the River Tyne and first opened to pedestrians and cyclists in 2001. This is one of seven crossings over the river within a mile, each bridge commanding a particular style and together they have come to define what Newcastle and increasingly Gateshead was, and is, about – namely a city and borough combining a great engineering heritage and a new cosmopolitan ambition for the future. Other cities may seek to flatter by imitation, yet so very few come close even to matching.

NOTES 03

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JUNE 06

13

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AUGUST

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August

04

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Summer Bank Holiday (Scotland)

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Dunstanburgh Castle and Newton Haven, near Embleton, Northumberland

Summer Bank Holiday (UK except Scotland)

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There are several places and views across Northumberland which, when reached, inspire an instinctive and collective gasp from visitors. This is one of those special locations. On the short descent by road into Newton-by-the-Sea is revealed the unmatched coastal scene across the sheltered golden sands and rockpools of Newton Haven set against an imperious backdrop of imposing, steadfast and skeletal Dunstanburgh Castle. Dating from 1313, this mighty ruined fortress which surmounts the sheer 33m (100ft) cliffs of the dark Whin Sill above the restless North Sea, was constructed by Earl Thomas of Lancaster in seemingly open defiance of his monarch King Edward II. Enclosing the entire 4.5ha (11 acre) headland, this was one of the largest and grandest fortifications in Northern England. The great twin towered gatehouse was strengthened later by John of Gaunt as a bulwark against marauding Scottish hordes. In its prime, Dunstanburgh occupied a precarious frontier between two warring nations, and vulnerable too in the face of sea-born invasion and the continued threat of internal strife. It is little wonder then that Northumberland gave rise to more castles and fortified strongholds than any other UK region.

NOTES 07

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Š Graeme Peacock

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JULY M

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SEPTEMBER 7

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September

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Northumberlandia near Cramlington, Northumberland © Graeme Peacock

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After years with only an angel to behold, the North East now has a Lady to wax lyrical about, and what a canny lass she is too! Northumberlandia (affectionately dubbed ‘the lady of the north’) is a landform sculpture of a recumbent lady designed by the internationally renowned American landscape architect Charles Jencks. This £3m project (jointly funded by the Banks Group and the Blagdon Estate) which opened in 2012 forms the centre-piece of a 19ha (47 acre) public access country park near Cramlington and is believed to be the world’s largest land sculpture moulded in a human form. Superlatives certainly abound in every direction. She comprises 1.5million tonnes of rock, clay and soil (carefully selected from the adjacent Shotton surface coal mine), is 34m (112ft) at her highest point, extends 400m (1300ft) in length and boasts four miles of footpaths on and surrounding her which, when taken altogether, blend subtly yet spectacularly into the Cheviot Hills backdrop. Northumberlandia is not only a spectacular artform in her own right, but is a living, evolving and constantly maturing asset over time and the seasons for the enjoyment of future generations.

NOTES 04

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AUGUST 07

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OCTOBER

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October

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Grey’s Monument, Newcastle upon Tyne, Tyne and Wear © Graeme Peacock

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Within the 36ha (90 acre) confines of Grainger Town – the architectural gem of Newcastle which includes the luminaries of Grainger Street, Theatre Royal, Grey Street, Grainger Market and Clayton Street – some 40% of the buildings are listed as being worthy of historical and architectural importance. The existence of this neo-classical development owes an enduring debt of gratitude to the visionary genius of Newcastle born builder Richard Grainger who worked on the remodelling of Newcastle from 1834 alongside architects John Dobson and Thomas Oliver and with the town clerk, John Clayton. At the head of Grey Street stands the 48m (138ft)tall Grade I listed Grey’s Monument, erected in 1838 to acclaim Charles Grey, second Earl of Grey of Howick Hall Northumberland, for his instrumental efforts to secure the passing of the 1832 Great Reform Act. In 2005 it was certainly no idle gesture when listeners to the BBC Radio 4 Today programme lauded Grey Street as the finest street in Britain. Perhaps the last word should go to Poet Laureate Sir John Betjeman who noted “As for the curve of Grey Street, I shall never forget seeing it to perfection, traffic-less on a misty Sunday morning. Not even Regent Street, even old Regent Street London, can compare with that descending subtle curve”.

NOTES 02

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Halloween

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SEPTEMBER M

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End of British Summer Time

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NOVEMBER

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November

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Guy Fawkes Night

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01

Alnwick Castle, Alnwick, Northumberland © Graeme Peacock Set against a medieval fortress backdrop, a series of visually dazzling and ear-splitting pyrotechnics light up the sky above Alnwick. As a Norman stronghold dating from the end of the 11th century, Alnwick Castle was built on the instructions of Yves de Vescy, Baron of Alnwick, to protect England’s northern border against Scottish incursions and the ravages of the Border Reivers. Since 1309, however, the castle has been synonymous with the House of Percy and today is home to Ralph Percy, 12th Duke of Northumberland and his family. Present generations may of course relate better to Alnwick Castle via the wizarding exploits of a certain Mr H Potter whose Hogwarts adventures were partly filmed here. Dubbed by Victorians as ‘the Windsor of the north’ – it is the second largest inhabited castle in England after Windsor – the fierce medieval exterior of Alnwick Castle belies the treasure trove within. Furnished in palatial renaissance style, with paintings by Titian, Van Dyke and Caneletto, Alnwick also boasts fine furniture and an exquisite ensemble of Meissen china. Of course, a visit to this delightful Northumberland market town would not be complete without savouring the sensory delights of the adjacent Alnwick Garden, one of the most visionary and extraordinary contemporary gardens on earth and a delight whatever the season and weather.

NOTES

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OCTOBER M

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Remembrance Sunday

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St. Andrew’s Day

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December

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Royal Border Bridge, Berwick upon Tweed, Northumberland © Graeme Peacock

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Christmas Eve

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The fading passage of time has sadly denied Queen Victoria – who opened it to great fanfare in 1850 – the chance to pass comment upon the new crepuscular livery of the Royal Border Bridge. Designed by the famous railway pioneer Robert Stephenson (son of George Stephenson) and built between 1847-50, the 659m (2162ft) long Grade I listed railway viaduct spans the River Tweed between Berwick upon Tweed and Tweedmouth. Towering some 38m (126ft) above the salmon rich waters, the bridge is comprised of 28 semi-circular arches arranged in a graceful flowing curve. Constructed for the York-Newcastle and Berwick Railway, and still in daily use as part of the East Coast mainline, the bridge formed the last link in the completion of a continuous railway from London to Edinburgh. The current large scale LED lighting scheme, which was installed in 2010 to commemorate the bridge’s 160th anniversary, perfectly complements the masonry structure and incorporates chameleon like colour changes in both static and moving guises. One would hope, then, that She would have been amused. And congratulatory too.

NOTES

25

Christmas Day

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Boxing Day

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NOVEMBER 07

14

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28

JANUARY

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January

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24

30

The Corn Mill, Durham City, County Durham © Graeme Peacock For the discerning landscape photographer, such moments of symmetry in nature are conspicuous only by their rarity. Medieval in its origins, the former corn mill on the banks of the River Wear in Durham City was owned by the Priors and convent of Durham. It is believed that corn was ground here until the early 1900s, whereupon the mill rapidly fell into disrepair. From nearby Prebends Bridge which dates back to 1777, visitors can gaze upon the classic vista of Durham Cathedral and the former Fulling Mill (now the University Museum of Archaeology which houses relics of the region’s Anglo-Saxon and Roman past). It was from Prebends Bridge that Sir Walter Scott was inspired to pen some of his most famous and oft quoted lines: “Grey towers of Durham – yet well I love thy mixed and massive piles – half church of God; half castle ‘gainst the Scot; and long to roam these venerable aisles, with records of deeds long since forgot.”

NOTES

New Year’s Day (UK & Rep. of Ireland)

02

Bank Holiday (Scotland)

03

DECEMBER M

04

11

18

25

Robert Burns Night (Burns Night)

1

8

15

22

FEBRUARY 29

M

-

2

9

16

23

T

2

9

16

23

30

T

-

3

10

17

24

W

3

10

17

24

31

W

-

4

11

18

25

T

4

11

18

25

-

T

-

5

12

19

26

F

5

12

19

26

-

F

-

6

13

20

27

S

6

13

20

27

-

S

-

7

14

21

28

S

7

14

21

28

-

S

1

8

15

22

-


5 Moore Court, Newburn, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE15 8QE, United Kingdom

t/f: +44 (0)191 267 7258 m: +44 (0)771 335 1387 graeme.peacock@virgin.net www.graeme-peacock.com

Front Cover Images St Mary’s Lighthouse | Newcastle Quayside | The Alnwick Garden


Northern vistas low res