Last week I did a couple of things that I’ve not done in around six months: slept in a bed that’s not my own and went to the pub for a pint. When the roadmap out of lockdown was announced we booked a few nights away in a holiday cottage for the earliest available opportunity. And the time to take that opportunity rolled around last week.

Until we arrived in this peaceful spot, I hadn’t realised how much I needed both the change of scenery and the time to fully disconnect and immerse myself in the beautiful countryside of Northumberland and Cumbria.

View from the cottages at Common House Farm

Our only neighbours on the farm where our cottage was located were a family of friendly goldfinches and a field full of sheep and their lambs.

We had some wonerful weather for walking and did a couple of varied routes. First, a loop from Lambley Viaduct that included sections of both the Pennine Way and South Tyne Trail. We got to go under and over the viaduct at varuous points on the route.

Lambley Viaduct from below View of South Tyne river from Lambley viaduct

Our second walk took us along a section of Hadrian’s Wall, from Walltown Quarry to Great Chesters. We walked back along the vallum and crossed farmland to Tipal Burn and returned to the start via the ruins of Thirwall Castle.

View of Hadrian’s Wall looking East towards Turret 45a

We ended our stay with visits to RSPB Geltsdale and Talkin Tarn.

View over Tindale Tarn from bird hide Derelict buildings at Forest Head Quarry

Other than walking, we did a lot of birdwatching. Over the week we saw:

  • lapwings
  • a curlew
  • a snipe
  • a red grouse
  • partridge
  • tufted ducks
  • whinchats
  • wheatears
  • a reed warbler
  • a great spotted woodpecker, and
  • a skylark

When we weren’t outdoors the main activity was reading. I chose to take Matt Haig’s The Midnight Library, which I devoured, and Robert Macfarlane’s The Old Ways, which helped me think about the paths we we walking in a new way.

I feel ready to return to work next week rested and recharged. Also with a renewed commitment to get out here more regularly for longer walks to top up my personal battery.

This is day 36 of my #100DaysToOffload challenge. Want to get involved? Find out more at

Tags: #holidays #gratitude