More from my trip to Northumberland back in the spring, AKA another respite from this burning summer in the south.
About 1,300 years ago, a middle-aged man moved to Inner Farne, seeking hermitage in the buildings where Aidan – Apostle to England – had dwelt not long before. So great was Cuthbert’s need for solitude that he grew his own food rather than accept supplies, but he accepted the friendship of the island’s wildlife, and sheltered eider ducks when the weather turned raw.
Cuthbert passed some of the world’s first conservation laws to protect these exquisite sea ducks on the Farne Islands. When he died, his body was moved to Holy Island (Lindisfarne), and after the Vikings invaded, monks faithfully carried it inland. His eventual burial place by the River Wear is now Durham Cathedral.
That is the drama of many lifetimes ago. But Cuthbert’s ducks – still nicknamed Cuddy ducks in his honour – continue to grace Northumberland, and they are far from alone.
Grey heron, eating a brown trout
Oystercatcher bathing on the shoreline
Rock pipit, perched on the whin sill
Back in Norfolk, it is 32c and the fields are sandy-brown. Roll on autumn.