According to legend the Simonside Hills, near Rothbury, are the haunt of the Duergar, a malevolent elf that lives amongst the rocks and caves that are scattered over the area. Fortunately he only appears at night and, while the day rarely brightened enough to really call it daylight, we managed to get off the hill before true darkness fell.
The fresh breeze carried plenty of drizzly rain. Most wildlife was keeping a low profile and yet on the open moorland the blustery silence was broken on occasion by the distinctive ‘laughing’ of a red grouse. Down in the woodland a red squirrel provided some entertainment for a while as it foraged in the uppermost branches of a Scots pine.
There were few plants in flower though some late bell heather blooms clung on in places. Elsewhere some of the moorland banks were covered with a spread of cowberry (Vaccinium vitis-idaea), the bright red berries providing a rare but welcome splash of colour to the December scene. It is a relatively uncommon plant but locally quite common in parts of Northumberland.