Greig Houghton Photography
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Sycamore Gap, Northumberland, England

A national icon and an icon of Hollywood brought to fame by its starring role in the introductory scenes of Robin Hood Prince of Thieves.  Having arrived at the White Cliffs of Dover of the south coast of England, Robin Hood makes his way back home to Nottingham passing through Sycamore Gap in the process.  Hollywood has of course take liberties with the geographic accuracies in this route with Sycamore Gap lying a further 180 miles north of Nottingham near the border between Scotland and England.  

Sitting within the Northumberland National Park, the sycamore tree lies in a gap in the Whin Sill formed by a geological combination of volcanic and glacial actions.  The Whin Sill is a 70m thick slab of volcanic whinstone, stretching east-west across the neck of the north of England.   The cooling and contraction of the molten rock formed vertical joints in the rock mass and it is these joints which resulted in the north facing craggy sheer face of the sill which looks out towards Scotland. with a longer gentler slopes to the south. The gap in the sill, in which the sycamore sits, was formed by glacial melt water cutting a sharp channel through the sill.

The steep cliffs of the Whin Sill formed a natural defence which the Romans took advantage of, fortifying the northern frontier and separating the Roman and Barbarian territories.  This was achieved by the construction of Hadrian's Wall in 120AD spanning 70 miles coast to coast across northern England.  We'll get more into that in part 2 of this post to follow.