A WOOD in a North-East beauty spot is being turned into a magical world by a couple with a passion for elves, gnomes and fairies.

Retired seaman Harry Davison and his wife Val have already started moving in all manner of creatures as they aim to attract thousands of visitors to their Elfinwood.

The centrepiece of their fantasy wood, set in seven acres near Crook, County Durham, is a walk based on Tolkein's classic children's book, The Lord of the Rings.

There are gnomes and fairies galore and many characters made famous by the book.

Eventually the Davisons, who live at Howdon, in North Tyneside, hope to build little Hobbit houses, where families can stay for a couple of days and live out the fantasy world of The Lord of the Rings.

There will also be a treasure trail, with clues based on the Runic alphabet.

"This is a magical place," said Mr Davison, whose grandparents were Norwegian. "We hope to create an interactive site where both children and adults can fully appreciate the writing of Tolkein."

He said he and his wife, a former legal secretary, stumbled on the site when they were looking for a place to set up a business.

"As soon as we walked among the trees, we felt it was something rather special. You could feel the atmosphere."

Mr Davison, a lover of Tolkein since childhood, decided it would be the perfect site for a fantasy theme wood.

Mrs Davison does not share her husband's passion for the works of Tolkein, but she admits she is very fond of gnomes and elves.

The couple have also set up an Elfinwood website, which, among other things, contains details about gnome retirement homes, fairy treats and a lonely elves column.

In their application to Wear Valley District Council to develop the site, the Davisons say they are also planning building a cafe and shop next to the wood.

The planners are expected to give their decision on December 19.