What a perfect day for a walk on Sunday morning. It was calm, sunny and cold on the fingers when we headed up to the moors north of Eglingham via the North Charlton road from the A1 North of Alnwick.
For sometime we have been going to check out a unobtrusive cave hidden in the heather called Cateran Hole, on the north slope of Cateran Hill. This gash down into the moor is steeped in folklore with tales of Smugglers and Faeries. Rather than plagiarise bits of others research, check out this link for more pics and the tales...
Not that we were hoping to add to the myth, we were looking for any wildlife that might lurk within...
To begin with, above are two maps of the location. Its quite a remote spot as you can see below.
Park the car at this finger post and walk across the moor for about 10 minutes until...
...you see this post with arrows on, in the distance. Its there honest. At this point turn left.
A small stone in the middle of the path is carved, pointing left again just off track to the cave,
And there in a small depression is the hole. There are carved stone steps down into it. A torch or headlamp is a must. Its about 40 feet of narrow passage through the rock.
The way in..
Once in, water drips through and glistens on the walls covered in green algae. Signs of visitors date from 1700s, right to the present day. We hoped to find Cave Spider and a small Bryophyte called Tunbridge Filmy Fern, but we couldnt find either.
Only one spider was found -
A selection of unfamiliar mosses and spleenworts adorned the step walls, I'll try and get id's later...
Common Feather Moss
Hart's Tongue Thyme Moss
Waved Silk Moss
Once back into the light we checked out the view from the top of Cateran Hill, to see if any birds were to be had. Red Grouse called unseen hidden in a multitude of Red legged Partridges and Pheasants ( there were even 2 Japanese Green Pheasant types) . 2 Buzzards and 2 Ravens hung around while a few Skylarks were newly back on territory.
Back at the car for tea, I scanned North and saw a raptor flying steadily across the moor. It immediately looked different and I called John to look. By now, closer and lower down it was obviously a smart male Goshawk! It soon perched up on the side of a tall larch where I could get the scope on it. A belter.
After a minute or two it was gone, flushing pigeons to the four winds as it went.
Male Gos, perched.
Back along the road, another 2 Ravens gave closer views gathering nesting material and harassing a Buzzard.
And with that it was time to leave, a very pleasant morning, we could almost kid ourselves it was spring...
Wow Stewart I never knew this cave existed, what a fantastic 'hidden' gem you've let us all know about. Those filmy ferns and other briophytes will be interesting to ID. A few years back I was taken to see Tunbridge filmy fern (and other spps) in Snowdonia. They clung onto a rock jutting out over a thundering waterfall, a hair raising moment hanging over the side being sprayed by plunge pool mist but never forgotten. On the way up we looked at liverworts on a mature sycamore and that changed my view of this 'alien' and how vital base rich bark is for many plants.
Cheers Andrew, Ive known about it for years but always had something better to do, or forgot about it. Chris Barlow ( a good naturalist from Newcastle) posted a load of mosses on FB recently and they looked great with some glamorous names too so I might be looking closer at them too...
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