I am a big fan of urban wild spaces. I adore deep forests and long sweeping coastlines, but equally I couldn't do without those little pockets of wildness that I can just dip into on a daily basis. I'm very lucky where I live in Newcastle. I have Leazes Park just a few minutes away, and my route into the city centre takes me right through it. I also have the Town Moor to the north, with its Skylarks and hirundines, and the river to the south. The trouble with these spaces though is that I don't often get them all to myself, particularly on days like yesterday when the sun is shining.
Of course it is a good thing that other people are connecting with nature too, but sometimes I just don't feel like sharing my little bit of wildness with the fitness groups, the dog walkers, the anglers and the sun bathers. So yesterday I took myself somewhere I hadn't been to before, even though I'd passed it hundreds of times; somewhere where there were 25,000 other people, but where I could feel totally alone with nature; somewhere surprisingly full of life.
Jesmond Old Cemetery is just outside Newcastle city centre. It has been "retired" from use, and allowed to go fairly wild, though in a cared-for and managed way by the Friends of the cemetery. It's also really quite beautiful. There's a blending of nature and sculpture throughout the cemetery that makes it so much more interesting than a simply overgrown wild space would have been.
There are also some simply magnificant trees, vast things, with spreading canopies, often covered in ivy right up their trunks.
I particularly liked these two trees, blending together to create one large, multi-coloured tree in a most attractive way.
There were plenty of birds around too. A Wren was singing from the top of a tombstone, Blackbirds in the bushes around the edge and this Crow looking particularly appropriate for the surroundings.
Little gaps and holes in the cemetery wall provided additional nesting areas for small birds. I could hear baby birds calling from several tiny little holes between the blocks, and found a pair of Blue Tits disappearing into another hole.
I don't know who is buried here, but it is quite lovely seeing nature being allowed to take over like this. I hope whoever it is doesn't mind!
One of the more elaborate sculptures, and a very pretty one. Things like this really made this wild space a special one.
There were loads of Celtic crosses throughout the cemetery, but I've never come across anything quite like these flowered crosses before, and thought they were really charming.
A fine example of Celtic knotwork.
If this inspires you to explore a cemetery too, just don't forget one final piece of advice: Don't blink!