Museum Volunteer Charlotte Dufferwiel writes:
A short journey from the centre of Durham, the River Wear meanders through the open fields and wooded glades on the outskirts of the city. Walking along the country lane, the stubby green shoots of winter barely tentatively pop through the earth on either side. Skeletons of hogweed act as gateposts along the farmer’s fields and frozen droplets cling to spider’s webs laced between, glinting in the low winter light. Entering the wood, the small calls of goldcrests fill the air and great tits and dunnocks begin to sing, a sure sign spring is on the way. Beneath the great beech trees, snowdrops catch the light before the canopy fills later in the season. One of the benefits of winter time is how much you can observe with the absence of a leafy canopy. I can appreciate small, delicate woodland flowers, such as lesser celandine and wood anemone, spot bird’s nests and see the odd squirrel bounding from tree to tree. Passing the large house at the end of the lane, the trees thin and I am soon in the open meadow next to the river. The deep peaty river bubbles through the landscape, and the quarrelling of Mallards fills the air. I may even spot a goosander meandering upstream if I’m lucky. In summer, swifts, swallows and house martins flit and dive, catching mayflies emerging from the river, with their twittering and screaming announcing the definite arrival of summer. Making my way down to the river bank, hopefully looking for a dipper, but sadly the bank is too steep and the river too deep here. Nevertheless, the calming sounds of the river acts as an escape and the swollen buds of a willow hanging over the peaty depths tells me that better things are just around the corner. Just taking five minutes observing the landscape and thinking what is to come, really helps alleviate the lockdown blues.