Country diary: these remarkable beeches can be seen from miles away


Scots Gap, Northumberland: Planted around 1760 on top of a stone-clad bank known as a kest, their soaring grey trunks are mottled with pale grey circles of lichen

An old railway line leaves Scots Gap past a field studded with glistening waxcaps, crimson, apricot and yellow fungi colouring the rushy pasture. Soon, two trackbeds diverge, the Wannie line going west as we head north along the route of the Rothbury line. A circular walk takes in both green lanes where trains once carried stone, lime, livestock and coal from the Wallington estate.

A sheltered cutting, sunk between banks of ruby rosehips and cascading haws, rises to become an elevated walkway stretching out high above farmland. The disused line is an artist’s diagram of perspective, the vanishing point a grassy distance between red-berried hawthorns. Along with hogweed and knapweed in seed, it’s a linear food table for birds.

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