Looking up at the roots at Belsay Quarry walk

Here in Northumberland, we are spoiled for choice in landscape and scenery. We have sea, moors, woodland and so much more. Having lived here for over 5 years now, we still find new places to explore and this Summer we made a magical discovery. Belsay Hall itself is interesting in that it was inspired by Grecian Architecture, the castle is 14th Century medieval and fascinating too. But it is the gardens that caused us to visit multiple times these past few months.  The main pathway is cut through the quarry rock to create a circular route with walls so high it has its own microclimate with exotic plants as well as one of the largest collections of Rhododendrons in the country. 

tree roots at the quarry

Roots making their way in spite of the quarry stone

I took so many photos on our trips there it is a challenge to choose just a couple but one of my favourite things was the way the trees have rooted themselves into the quarry walls. We usually think of the roots being below us but walking through this quarry you look up to see the way the roots have woven and forced themselves into and through the stone below. The theme of this woodland work for me so far seems to be the idea of feeling rooted or grounded in a time where so much of our experience of the world is fragile and uncertain. Thinking about the roots of trees helps me to feel a sense of stability and even of time almost stood still – we don’t see the roots advancing underground but know it happens, millimetre by millimetre. 

Dark tree roots

Dark roots making their way through and around the stone

The thought of these trees at Belsay, defiantly breaking through stone over decades and generations to stand strong above us is amazing to me. Usually, when we look up in woodland we see the sky in between the branches, here it is the roots that caught my attention. In my usual local woodland walks, the roots are also the elements that I find myself drawn to. The immovable support gives each tree stability. I think there is something to learn from that and I have a feeling that this is one of the themes that this woodland exploration relates to and what is inspiring the work to come. It is about trees, yes but it is also about an idea that brings me comfort in this time.

TehquHigh quarry walls

The fascinating divisions of the quarry stone

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