A competition that captured the imaginations of scores of budding photographers across the region has resulted in a collection of stunning images that showcase the natural beauty of Northumberland.
The Sill, a partnership between Northumberland National Park Authority and YHA (England and Wales), to create the nation’s first landscape discovery centre in the Hadrian’s Wall area of the National Park, launched the competition last year in a bid to encourage people to explore the county’s countryside all year round.
Almost 100 images were entered capturing everything from feral Northumbrian goats to the snow-covered Breamish valley. A panel of expert judges have been assessing all the entries and have now revealed the winner to be Ian Glendinning, from Holystone near Rothbury, with his entry titled ‘Curlew silhouetted against the sunset in the Coquet Valley’.
The tranquil photograph captures a Curlew – Britain's largest wading bird which is also used as the logo for Northumberland National Park – resting on a fence as the sun sets in the background.
The joint runners-up were: Craig Richards, with his image ‘Milky Way over Holy Island’
Mike Ridley with his two photographs - ‘International space station fly over at Sycamore Gap’ and ‘Full moon over Cawfields quarry on Hadrian’s Wall’.
All of the four top entries will receive their framed photographs of their images and winner Ian will get the chance to take part in a one-to-one photography master class with acclaimed wildlife photographer and filmmaker Cain Scrimgeour, who was also one of the judges.
Alongside Cain on the judging panel was Janet Blair, Editor of Living North, Jude Leitch, from Northumberland Tourism, Mel Whewell and Chris France, both from Northumberland National Park Authority’s Sill Project Board.
Cain, who has previously worked on Robson Green’s ITV1 series Tales from Northumberland, said: “It was brilliant to see a large variety of entries from every stretch of Northumberland, celebrating the beauty of the wildlife, landscapes, landmarks and dark skies.”
Fellow judge Jude added: “The variety of Northumberland’s spectacular landscapes always amazes and this was amply demonstrated by all the entries in the Sill’s photography competition. The county’s wild and rugged side as well as its softer, tranquil beauty were presented often in surprising and creative ways. All the entrants should be congratulated on the way their shots highlighted the real uniqueness of our outdoors.”
Ian, a 57-year-old retired police officer, said: “I am honoured and delighted to have been selected as the winner of the competition. The Northumberland National Park is a fantastic place to take photographs, with a wide variety of landscape and wildlife opportunities. This photograph was captured when I saw the curlew from quite a distance away, and I had to crawl a long way through some very wet ground to get the picture. I’m pleased that I made the effort.”
The competition is closely tied to the aims of The Sill, Northumberland’s planned £14.2m project which will offer a unique opportunity to help more people explore, learn and be inspired by the nation’s finest countryside. The project was recently awarded a £7.8m grant by the Heritage Lottery Fund, taking it a step closer to reality. If the remaining funds are successfully raised, the Sill’s activity programme will launch later this year, with the centre due to open in 2017.
Stuart Evans, The Sill Project Director, said: “The Sill aims to open the door to the countryside and this competition has done just that. It’s fantastic to see these images which show how truly lucky we are to have such beautiful countryside on our doorstep no matter what time of year.
“All the entries capture the essence of Northumberland National Park and other special Northumbrian landscapes so I want to thank everyone who shared their images with us throughout the competition.”