Back in the autumn of 2013 the local hedgerows were laden with berries but now most of those have been taken by members of the thrush family. So last week it was a surprise to find these wall cotoneaster Cotoeneaster horizontalis plants still carrying a spectacular crop of scarlet berries. The shrubs are growing in fissures in the cliff face in the old Ashes Great Limestone quarry at Stanhope in Weardale, in places that would only be accessible to birds. One large flock of waxwings could probably polish this whole crop off in a couple of hours.
Cotoneaster horizontalis is native to western China and was introduced into British gardens in 1879. It was first recorded as a garden escape in 1940. It also grows on the walls of Stanhope castle, which about half a mile from the quarry.
You can download a guide to the history of the quarry and to a circular walk around it by clicking here