View of Northumberland National Park

Postcards from the home workspace: Northumberland National Park

Mark Hall - 23 April 2020
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With only 2,000 people spread over 405 square miles, social distancing is relatively easy

Second in an occasional series of posts looking at some of the small upsides we are seeing during this upsetting and extraordinary time.

We are now in week four of the ‘lockdown’ here in the Northumberland National Park. We are living in the least populated of all of the National Parks and there are only about 2,000 people spread over 405 square miles, so social distancing is not an issue.

Living where we do gives a real sense of connection with the natural world and the seasons. Spring has certainly arrived and it is great to see birds nesting and new born lambs bouncing around in the fields near our home. The adder, which has taken up residence in our garden, is perhaps less welcome but you quickly learn to live respectfully alongside nature. This is a busy time of year for the farmers and in many ways life goes on pretty much as normal for them.

Although we live in a remote part of England we do normally get a lot of transatlantic flights passing overhead. It has been very noticeable how clear and uncluttered the skies have been in recent weeks and I swear that the birdsong is even louder than normal.

Strong community

There is always a strong sense of community spirit here and that has been even more evident over the last few weeks. Our nearest shops are about six miles away and the teams working in them have done a great job in keeping everything well stocked.

Technology has played a part in helping to co-ordinate a network of people who are able to collect provisions and prescriptions for those who are most vulnerable.

We are fortunate to have a very good local pub which is the hub of the community and the place where the world is normally put to rights. Although I fully support and respect why the current social distancing measures are needed, it is a real miss not being able to go and have a decent pint, particularly in these troubling times.

Social distancing

Getting out for our daily exercise during the lockdown has been relatively easy and helped by the sunny weather we have had over the last few weeks. The postcard image above was taken on one of my cycle routes which have become a regular part of my schedule. It is unusual to see another human being when out exercising and the wildlife seems to be enjoying the lack of visitors too.

The current health crisis has made me appreciate even more how lucky we are to be living in a remote and well supported community – where keeping two metres apart from other people is easy.

Although I understand that the lockdown is difficult for many people, I hope that some positive aspects will come from it and perhaps it will help society move to a better place in the longer term.

I very much hope that the care workers and other key workers who are doing an exceptional job in looking after us and keeping the essential services running, will continue to get the respect and rewards which they truly deserve even after the current crisis subsides. This would be a real enduring benefit for all if we can make it happen.

Take care everyone.