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The Oaks, Holystone, Northumberland

About two months ago I briefly visited the nature reserve at Holystone after a trip to Harbottle and The Drake Stone. I was greeted by the sound of scrabbling in the pine tree tops and looked up to see a pair of red squirrels playing chase me - a great Northumberland location welcome if ever there was one! Then I headed up past some heath and scrub, full of the sound of birds and subtle scurrying of lizards (it was a very hot day, perfect lizard weather and habitat!) and then into some woodland - an oak wood! So I made a mental note to have a proper look at my OS map when I got home and to head back in Autumn.

On studying the maps I spotted a place called 'The Oaks' (55.306375, -2.109621) a mile or so's walk from the nature reserve car park - with the end of Autumn approaching the last trees to hold their leaves and colour are often oak trees, so today I headed back to Holystone to walk along to The Oaks for an explore.

From the car park (55.316933, -2.080674), follow the road past conifer woodland, and then open moorland dotted with silver birch, rowan and other small trees - if we get a cold snap over winter then, if the roads are passable and you can get here, this place will be stunning!

You can then turn off onto a track that passes through some woodland, including a patch of trees dripping with lichen. The track dips down towards Holystone Burn. Before crossing the burn, a footpath sign points into the woods. This is the path into The Oaks. The path was inches thick with oak leaves, acorns and bronze bracken fronds today, and the woods were full of beautiful, gnarly, moss-covered oak trees.

I followed the path along - and lost it a couple of times as I don't think many people go along here, and the woods are also crossed with animal routes to add to the confusion. The oak trees are very handsome and there was still a reasonable cover of golden and bronze leaves around, although most have now fallen. And finally, at the end of the path I was surprised to find a pretty, small waterfall - an unexpected bonus.

Below and above are a collection of photos from my first trip - beautiful place and fun to explore - now I am praying for mist or a heavy fog some time on a day when I can get up there - fingers crossed!

Ooh, and on the way I passed through Rothbury so stopped at Tomlinson's to buy a sandwich, coffee and one of their amazing melt-in-the-mouth caramel slices - think I'm addicted, wonder if they do mail order!

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