Northumberland International Dark Sky Park

A recent BBC report stated that “A study of pictures of Earth by night has revealed that artificial light is growing brighter and more extensive every year. Between 2012 and 2016, the planet’s artificially lit outdoor area grew by more than 2% per year. Scientists say a “loss of night” in many countries is having negative consequences for “flora, fauna, and human well-being”.

Many people never see the stars properly, or even at all, due to the amount of light pollution in towns and cities across the world. There has also been a surge of interest in the night sky, and this is reflected by the huge popularity of the Northumberland International Dark Sky Park, the largest area of protected night sky in Europe, covering 572 square miles (1,483 square kilometres). The area was awarded gold status designation in 2013 by the International Dark Sky Association in Tucson, Arizona, the world authority on light pollution. This status means that controls are now  in place to prevent light pollution and to protect the night sky.

This greeting card in the Cherish the Earth series shows the stars over Sycamore Gap on Hadrian’s Wall, Northumberland National Park,  with an accompanying quotation by His Holiness the 17th Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje, head of the Karma Kagyu lineage and one of the most eminent figures in Tibetan Buddhism: “When we can appreciate beauty, and feel awe and wonder at nature, we have the basis to dedicate ourselves to environmental protection.”    The Karmapa is well known for his interest and commitment to environmental issues, as well as social justice for all.  He frequently highlights the issues in his teachings and life’s work.

There are twelve cards in the series, ranging from honeybees to Himalayan mountains, wildlife to oceans, and there has been a wonderful response since publication. They are also available from the shops at Kagyu Samye Ling, near Eskdalemuir, Scotland, and Kagyu Samye Dzong London.

November rain

Well today is looking thoroughly wet, dark and grey, but we have had some lovely days in the last few weeks. November can be a beautiful month, and this view shows the hills at the foot of the College valley on the northern side of the Cheviots, on a day of wonderful light. This image has been included in the Seasons of Northumberland calendar 2018, available from this website, and from retail outlets across the region. The 2018 calendar features views of Northumberland through the seasons of the year, including Bamburgh Castle, Alnwick Castle, Northumberland National Park, Hadrian’s Wall, puffin (Farne Islands), River South Tyne, Padon Monument, and Embleton Bay. It makes a great Christmas present for family and friends in Northumberland and beyond, and many Northumbrians living around the world.

The Sill Christmas Fair

Yesterday’s Christmas Fair at The Sill was a great success, with beautiful weather in the morning (sunny and frosty), lots of visitors, choirs, snowy owl, lots of great products on sale and a very happy and enthusiastic atmosphere. Many thanks to the organisers!

The Sill is the UK’s National Landscape Discovery Centre at Once Brewed in the Northumberland National Park. The building is the result of an innovative partnership between Northumberland National Park and YHA England and Wales. Named after the nearby Great Whin Sill, the centre is the result of a partnership between Northumberland National Park, Youth Hostels Association (England & Wales) and the Heritage Lottery Fund, which supported the development with a £7.8m grant.

This image shows the River Coquet from the bridge at Hepple, and is available to buy as Christmas card from the website.

New Hexham Christmas cards

There are now two new Christmas cards of Hexham and Hexham Abbey, which have just been produced as single cards –  160x160mm square – and they look absolutely gorgeous. The printers (Continuous Design Ltd) have done a beautiful job, and the cards are now available to order from this website or you can buy at the Card Shop in the Market Place, Hexham, Northumberland.

Autumn light

After a long a slow build up, the autumn colours are at last looking pretty good, even though it is so late in the year and the leaf fall is well advanced. Autumn in Northumberland is a week or two late this year but the last few days have seen some cold nights and bright sunny days and this has enhanced the colours. So there are some new photos in the bag for future Seasons of Northumberland calendars. It’s always good to get out of my office and to spend some time in nature, here in the North Tyne valley in Northumberland National Park.

Northumberland International Dark Sky Park

Northumberland International Dark Sky Park is the largest area of protected night sky in Europe, covering 572 square miles (1,483 square kilometres). The area was awarded gold status designation in 2013 by the International Dark Sky Association in Tucson, Arizona, the world authority on light pollution. This status means that controls are now  in place to prevent light pollution and to protect the night sky. This is a new Christmas card taken in the park (in fact it’s a view up the track from my house) and we have recently had some beautiful clear and starry nights and also aurora borealis or Northern Lights.

The Sill Christmas Fair

The Sill is the UK’s National Landscape Discovery Centre at Once Brewed in the Northumberland National Park. The building is the result of an innovative partnership between Northumberland National Park and YHA England and Wales. Named after the nearby Great Whin Sill, the centre is the result of a partnership between Northumberland National Park, Youth Hostels Association (England & Wales) and the Heritage Lottery Fund, which supported the development with a £7.8m grant.

The first Christmas Fair will take place on 19 November, and I will be part of the  showcase of local produce and handmade crafts, with my Northumberland Winter Christmas cards, Seasons of Northumberland calendar, greeting cards and prints. A great way to pick out some handcrafted Christmas presents made in the North East. We’ll have entertainment for all the family and fantastic festive food in the Sill cafe.

 

The bees

At last we have a politician (Michael Gove) showing some intelligent leadership and awareness about environmental issues, backing a total ban on insect-harming pesticides in fields across Europe. It has taken a long time but it is very encouraging that politicians are waking up to the scientific evidence and acting responsibly. Long may it continue! Honeybees play a vitally important role in the pollination of countless plants across the world, including one third of the food crops which we depend on.

This image is available as a greeting card in the Cherish the Earth series on this website, and 50% of the profits will be donated to environmental projects supported by His Holiness the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje, head of the 900 year old Karma Kagyu Lineage of Tibetan Buddhism. The Karmapa is well known for his commitment to environmental activity, as well as being a world spiritual leader and guide to millions of Buddhists around the world.

 

 

November calendar view

The Seasons of Northumberland calendar this year has a view of Lindisfarne seen from Bamburgh Castle on a very windy day with huge waves in the North Sea pounding the Northumberland Coast. Although Holy Island is some miles away, a telephoto lens foreshortens the view and shows Lindisfarne Castle above the surf crashing on the shore rocks.

Sycamore Gap

The iconic Sycamore Gap is a favourite location, and one of the most famous places along Hadrian’s Wall in the Northumberland National Park. A walk last November resulted in a new image which has just been used for the front cover of the current edition of the Northumbrian magazine.