Park life

Near to Newcastle United football ground is Leazes Park. Just an ordinary city park and yet full of bird song. And in a quiet corner of the park on a disused tennis court, there are Northern marsh orchids. Just down the road is another big surprise. Right in the middle of the city and bisected by a real racetrack of a motorway, is Jesmond Dene. In fact it's a veritable verdant canyon which has so impressed the local people over the years that many of them have been moved to poetry. 'Oh Jesmond Dene, sweet Jesmond Dene, Fair art thou in thy dress of green, Thy flowery banks with walks between, Are sylvan beauties, Jesmond Dene.' Those words were written in 1890 by T J Warby and if you’ve never heard of T J Warby, I’m not really surprised, but be honest, he was right wasn’t he? It is really very nice down here. Jesmond Dene is man-made. It was created by Lord William Armstrong, the Victorian arms manufacturer who diverted a river through the valley. He planted gardens and he built bridges and then he gave the whole place to the people of Newcastle as an area of outstanding natural beauty, which it most definitely is. A terrific place for people and for wildlife such as moorhens, wagtails and mallards. Late May is very much duckling season. Chances are only one or two of those ducklings will survive. Sometimes lack of food, sometimes foxes, dogs, or even pike will take a duckling.

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