Tom Cadwallender runs a small environmental consultancy specialising in birds. The work is wide ranging. He collect information relating to populations, behaviour and movements, also providing specialist advice on habitat management and creation.
He also provides interpretation and promotion of birds and other wildlife by leading guided walks and wildlife holidays both in Northumberland and many locations abroad and writing articles and books.
Born and raised here, Tom knows the county exceptionally well and shares some of its best kept secrets.
How long have you lived/worked/visited in Northumberland or The Scottish Borders?: I’m a Northumbrian born and bred. Before setting up the consultancy I had worked on the Northumberland coast for more than 20 years,and for the last ten or so years as the Natural and Cultural Heritage Officer for the Northumberland Coast AONB
What is it about the county that appeals to you?: Northumberland, for me, has an almost unique set of qualities. It has spectacular landscapes, especially the coast (I would say that), created by complex geology, coupled with big skies and big open spaces. Then you throw in over ten thousand years of human influence with the associated remains left in fabulous locations. We now have to mix in the wondrous wildlife such as the Farne Islands in summer – a truly-world class wildlife spectacle, and the mudflats of Lindisfarne teaming with birds from the far north in winter. Inland we have the flower rich meadows of the uplands with the back drop curlews and lapwing . . . Sorry I got a bit carried away there!
What’s your favourite Northumberland/Borders beauty spot?: Over the years of working of the coast I have discovered a number of favourite beauty spots, usually as lunch spots. But Harkess Rocks, just north of Bamburgh, enables me to combine a series of my favourite things – a spectacular setting with views out to sea, a top birdwatching site and I can pick up a top lunch at Greens the Butcher.
Tell us about your favourite view/walk/cycle route/town/nightspot?: Walking from Holy Island causeway north to Berwick along the Northumberland coast path. Along this route there is a chance to experience some of the finest that Northumberland has to offer.
The list of places to visit is endless. But some are more special than others. A trip to Northumberland wouldn’t be complete without . . .: Walking out to onto Ross Back Sands near Bamburgh at any time of the year, where you will find a great sweeping expanse of, almost, white sand that underscores views to Lindisfarne Castle to the north and Bamburgh Castle to the south.
Is locally produced Northumbrian/Borders food the best?: Of course it is! I would, however, like to see more made of how the production of local food can help shape, and sustainably manage, the landscape and habitats.
Do you have a preferred place to eat out in the county and why?: In recent weeks we have visited the Cook and Barker at Newton on the Moor and the local fish was delicious and the welcome we received was really warm.
Northumbrians and people from the Scottish Borders are renowned for the warm welcome they offer holidaymakers and day trippers alike. What do you think is the secret ingredient for this friendliness?: Borders are, by historical definition, areas where the ebbing and flowing of migrating human populations is a way of life. So now, in modern times, the local population are so relaxed and used to visitors. Borderers are also very proud of the areas they live in. So proud in fact, that there is a very strong desire to share and to encourage others to enjoy where we live.
Coast or country?: Given that I’ve just become chairman of the Berwickshire and North Northumberland European Marine Site (EMS) and my time working for the Coast AONB, then it has to be the coast. Although I do enjoy the valleys of the North Cheviots.
Your favourite historical site?:A slightly unusual favourite, but I like the 20th century military remains at Goswick, they are so evocative.
And the best road along which to take a leisurely and scenic drive?: It may take a bit of following in places, but if you can follow the River Tweed, from sea to source, you will find it very rewarding. Magic!
What would be your perfect day out in Northumberland and The Scottish Borders?: With an easterly wind on my face and out early with my binoculars onto the coast during autumn bird migration. Hopefully finding birds making first landfall after crossing the North Sea and occasionally bumping into friends along the way where we can discuss the unfolding day. Then, after dark, a tasty supper and a glass of wine at a favourite pub in Alnmouth.
Category: Northumberland Best Kept Secrets