Safety notices at Tantallon Castle


Tantallon Castle and Bass Rock © David Gill

The battlements at Tantallon Castle provide a wonderful platform for looking out towards Bass Rock and the mouth of the Firth of Forth. There are warning signs not to go to cross the safety fencing.


Tantallon Castle © David Gill

The lower part of the castle is adjacent to some sheer drops and there are further warning signs.


Tantallon Castle and Bass Rock © David Gill

Ringlet at Cherryburn


Ringlet at Cherryburn, 2017 © David Gill

Today, 14 July 2017, marks the start of the Big Butterfly Count. Keep an eye out for butterflies when you are visiting heritage sites.

This ringlet was in the meadow behind NT Cherryburn in Northumberland, the birthplace of Thomas Bewick.

Big Butterfly Count and Heritage Sites


Small tortoiseshell at Castle Acre © David Gill

The UK Big Butterfly Count started on 15 July and runs until 7 August. On Thursday evening the pits at Grime’s Graves were alive with Meadow Browns.


Meadow Brown at Grime’s Graves © David Gill

On Saturday there was a particularly fine Small Tortoiseshell in the reconstructed herb garden at Castle Acre.


Medicinal herb garden at Castle Acre © David Gill

In previous years I spotted a Small White on the lavender in the gardens of Bolsover Castle.


Small White at Bolsover Castle © David Gill

Why not take a pen and paper (form available) or download the app, and record how many butterflies you spot when you next visit a heritage site? Then upload it to the Big Butterfly Count.

Thorpeness Mere


Thorpeness mere and boathouse © David Gill

Thorpeness was developed as a Suffolk coastal resort by G.S. Ogilvie in 1909. The mere was created in 1913 although the boathouse, complete with clocktower, had been completed in 1911.



The House in the Clouds, Thorpeness © David Gill

One of the more unusual buildings is the House in the Clouds designed by F. Forbes Glennie and constructed in 1923-24. The watertower is disguised as a cottage.


Thorpeness © David Gill

The village has associations with J.M. Barrie (Peter Pan, 1904) who was a friend of the Ogilvies.

Wicken Fen


Wicken Fen © David Gill

Wicken Fen is a major National Trust property in Cambridgeshire, and a National Nature Reserve. The fen is a reminder of what so much of this part of Cambridgeshire would have looked like at the beginning of the twentieth century – and a reminder of what drainage and modern agriculture has done to these former wetland landscapes. There is a huge bio-diversity in the fen that makes it well worth a visit.

Ladybirds at Ickworth

St Mary's church, Ickworth © David Gill

St Mary’s church, Ickworth © David Gill

The ladybirds were gathering in large numbers over the weekend at Ickworth. We were able to count more than 55 on the west end of St Mary’s church (in the grounds), mostly, though not exclusively harlequins. They were clearly looking for cracks and corners as temperatures begin to dip.

The tower of the church dates to 1778. The church is now maintained by the Ickworth Church Conservation Trust.

© David Gill

© David Gill

© David Gill

© David Gill

Descend into England’s Story

Grimes Graves

Galleries at the bottom of Pit 1 at Grimes Graves (2015) © David Gill

The Neolithic flint mines at Grimes Graves must be one of the most unusual prehistoric sites in the care of English Heritage. Hard hats are worn for a steep climb into one of the pits where it is possible to look into the excavated galleries. Above ground the site is pock-marked with pits that are now covered in.

The heath is a wonderful place for wildlife: woodpecker, kite, larks and a range of butterflies were out enjoying the May sunshine.

Grimes Graves

Grimes Graves (2015)