Saturday, 17 September 2011

Northumberland Coastal Path. September 16th

       Five gadgies out today; a pentagie?  Herbie has joined us after a few weeks off. Herbie can eat for England but has not got an ounce of spare flesh on him. Life is so unfair.
       Today's walk is along a section of the Northumberland Coastal Path. The beaches in Northumberland are magnificent, miles of golden sand. If the summer was a little warmer the bays would be lined with concrete hotels, the beaches would have neat rows of sunbeds and the local pubs would sell more lager instead of decent ale. The tourist board of Alberta, landlocked Canadian province, once used a photograph of the beach at Bamburgh Northumberland in a promotional leaflet. Now Alberta probably has lakes bigger than Northumberland and there are some pretty fine beaches on them too, but Hey,WOULDN'T YOU THINK THEY WOULD CHECK FIRST?  Alberta also has mountains, and prairies, and oil and tar sands and an amazing place called "Head smashed in" where First Nations  (Very PC!) people drove buffalo herds over a cliff. At least they made full use of their kills, unlike the butchers of the American great plains.
      The walk starts in Seahouses, a small coastal resort and port famous for fish and chips, and deservedly so. It is also possible to take a boat trip out to the Farne Islands and smell the guano, get pecked on the head by terns and admire the seals with their soulful eyes. It's a hard life but it could be worse if they lived in Canada. Leave your car, if that's the way you came, in the car park at  GR 218320  on LR75.
      At the back of the car park a path leads along a long disused railway to a minor road. Turn right and after a few yards cross a style on the left hand side of the road and take the footpath that crosses fields to Shoreston Hall. The Coastal Path is well marked and it is easy to follow  towards Bamburgh. Not surprisingly the huge castle is visible for miles as it is not only huge but built on the Whin Sill which Dave knows all about because he understands Geology as well as archaeology. The castle has starred in several films .(I do not like the use of the Americanism "movie" and don't use it. And why do we suffer so many American voice overs in adverts. Fair enough for Chevrolet cars but I have heard them used for Teeside University and holidays in Wales). There is evidence of occupation as far back as Romano British times and it really deserves a book of it's own. I'm sure there will be several. I stick to Pevsner for information.*
    Bamburgh Castle from the north. It was a cool grey day hence the rather dull picture.

       Nestling beneath the castle is a pretty cricket ground, we made use of the pavilion to have a Herbie stop out of the light rain.
       Rejoin the Coastal Path behind the cricket field and walk along the beach  or cliff top path in the direction of Budle Bay.  We paused near Stag Rock (easily identifiable) to watch the sea birds who were obviously feeding on a shoal of fish quite close to the shore. There were gannets, cormorants, terns, knots, dunlin, redshanks, oystercatchers and even some crows and a house martin and swallow having a last tuck in before the long journey to Africa. There is a small lighthouse with a Trinity House coat of arms. I didn't study Latin very long but common sense tells you it means Three in One.

      Budle Bay looks like a mini version of the Wash on a map. In the South West corner use the gate or scramble over the fence on to the road. Almost immediately take the road going uphill past the Warren House Hotel and pause to admire the Outchester Ducket. This stone tower, now a holiday let, appears to have been a windmill but the small board at the gate maintains it was a food and manure store. Interesting combination. Follow the road going west, take the next right fork then the next left fork. After about half a mile on the road take the footpath on the left that crosses several fields until you come to a disused single track railway that served Easington Quarry. Cross it and proceed to the East Coast mainline. The footpath goes across the railway and there is a phone which connects directly to the main signal box. The signalman will tell you whether it is safe to cross, when you reach the other side call him back to say you made it.
  The final section of the path  goes down the side of grain silos. Watch out for the rat traps and wonder what's in your bread.. Cross the A1 road (Single carriageway, you are after all, in the North and this is the major route to Scotland) and continue on the path into Belford.
   At this pont being a gadgie pass comes into it's own. There are buses to Beadnell and Newcastle, although not many. The bus will take you back to Seahouses for free as a gadgie at the moment  but who knows how deep the cuts will bite. Gadgie passes could well be under threat. Massed ranks of pensioners will storm Whitehall, there will be sit ins on buses and a lot of money will be kept out of the economy.
   An after walk drink at the Ship in Seahouse, lovely pub, quite oldfashioned and with a good selection of ales.
   This walk is about 10 miles. Dave and I wear pedometers, it is quite legal. Mine said 10.046 miles. 
    My Canadian fan says these walks should be described as "incredibly fit gadgie walks". I don't think so.

* The Buildings of England. by Nicholas Pevsner. The Northumberland book has been revised by John Grundy,Grace McCombie, Peter Ryder and Humphrey Welfare.