A Botanist’s Year in North-East England

Education Courses

Key Details

Education Courses


Join James Common on a journey through the flora of North East England and discover how it changes through the seasons.

Course tutor: James Common

Course length: Seven months. Please check the shorten programme below*

Course structure: 19 field sessions at different locations across the North East

Course cost: £150 NHSN Members / £175 Non-Members

* A full programme, including meeting instructions, will be sent to all attendees via email or can be requested in advance by emailing james.common@newcastle.ac.uk.

About This Course

The flora of North East England changes throughout the seasons bringing with it a succession of ‘must-see’ sights and beautiful spectacles. From the first spring bulbs and our awakening woodlands to summer orchids and the mass flowering of those pesky yellow composite flowers, each month brings with it something new and of course, a new set of challenges for those interested in wildflower identification.

This course is designed to guide botanists through the year taking in the must-see spectacles of the seasons with a focus on finding, identifying, and recording a host of wildflowers associated with a range of exciting habitats. We’ll also visit some of the North East’s most impressive botanical hotspots in search of some of our region’s greatest botanical treasures.

Differing from the ‘200 Plants and Counting’ course, this course will not shy away from trickier species and time will be allocated to sit down as a group and, using field guides, work out any pesky finds. Several sessions have been included on slightly more advanced groups including yellow composites, cotoneasters, willowherbs and grasses.

Through a mix of field trips, guided recording sessions and focused workshops, attendees will gain a greater understanding of our region’s flora, encounter new species and gain confidence finding and identifying many wild plants. All while spending time with like-minded people in a range of lovely destinations.

Accessibility Information

Most trips have been tailored to include areas of flat and even walking. However, for certain trips, there will likely be areas of uneven ground, rough terrain, and steps. At times, we will also walk several miles in a single session.

Please note while many sites are accessible via public transport, many will require personal transport. Parking is available at/close to all sites.

These field courses are intended to be chatty, friendly, and informal. They should be suitable both for intermediate botanists who wish to take their interest further and explore new places and enthusiasts looking to gain a greater understanding of our region’s flora.

Listening to your feedback, all trips will now take place on a fixed day of the week. In the event of poor weather or other unforseen events, every effort will be taken to reschedule.

Trip Programme:

  • New Year Plant Hunt: Tynemouth - Saturday 30 December, 10.30am-12.30pm
  • Field Trip: Heaton (Newcastle)- Saturday 20 January, 10.30am-12.30pm
  • Field Trip: Bywell Churchyard (Bywell) - Saturday 17 February, 10.30am-12.30pm
  • Field Trip: Heaton Park (Newcastle) - Saturday 24 February, 10.30am-12.30pm
  • Field Trip: Walker (Newcastle)- Saturday 9 March, 10.00am-1.00pm
  • Field Trip: Scotch Gill Wood (Morpeth) - Saturday 30 March, 10.00am-12.30pm
  • Field Trip: Watersmeet (Acomb) - Saturday 13 April, 10.00am-1.00pm
  • Field Trip: Newbiggin-by-the-sea - Saturday 20 April, 10.00am-2.00pm
  • Field Trip: Warkworth dunes - Saturday 11 May, 10.30am-2.00pm
  • Field Trip: Upper Teesdale - Saturday 18 May, 10.00am-2.00pm
  • Field Trip: Cullernose Point (Craster) - Saturday 25 May, 10.30am-1.00pm
  • Recording Day: Hauxley Nature Reserve - Saturday 8 June, 10.00am-2.00pm
  • Easier Grasses Workshop: Heaton (Newcastle) - Saturday 15 June, 10.00am-12.30pm
  • Yellow Composites Workshop: East Chevington - Saturday 29 June, 11.00am-2.00pm
  • Field Trip: Lindisfarne (Holy Island) - Saturday 13 July, 11.00am-4.00pm
  • Field Trip: Gosforth Nature Reserve (Newcastle) - Saturday 20 July, 10.00am-1.00pm
  • Willowherbs Workshop: Heaton (Newcastle) - Saturday 27 July, 10.00am-12.30pm
  • Field Trip: Hareshaw Linn (Bellingham) - Saturday 10 August, 11.00am-3.00pm
  • Cotoneaster Workshop: Elswick (Newcastle) - Saturday 31 August, 10.00am-12.30pm

Questions (and identification queries) are welcome at any time by emailing james.common@newcastle.ac.uk. Please read the terms and conditions for NHSN education courses before booking.

Recommended Equipment:

If you have one, please do bring a botanical hand lens. If you have a favourite ID guide, please bring it. I would recommend either the New Flora of the British Isles, by Clive Stace, or the Collin’s Wildflower Guide, but any guide will help.

Please wear decent walking boots, pack waterproofs and do bring snacks/lunch for longer trips.

About the tutor:

James works as Senior Naturalist at NHSN. Outside of work, he is a passionate wildlife recorder with a focus on botany and invertebrates. As a botanist, he is a joint BSBI Vice-County Recorder for North Northumberland and an iRecord verifier for South Northumberland.

Away from plants, he is an enthusiastic recorder of insects, especially ladybirds. He recently won the 'Newcomer Award' for biological recording from the NBN Trust.