Saturday, 25 February 2012

Curry and Rice Pudding; along the coast from Sunderland to Shields, February 24th.
I have a very understanding wife. Yesterday I returned from a week in the Czech Republic, leaving her to cope, and today I am off on a Gadgie walk. On the other hand perhaps sheis just glad to see the back of me.
 Today there are a record number of gadgies out - 9, a nonagadge. The usual six plus Alan Lauder (FTA), guest Roy Eden and a happy return for Herbie. This walk is so straightforward I am not including map references but should you require maps Explorer 308 (Durham and Sunderland) and 316  (Newcastle upon Tyne)
We met at the Haymarket Metro Station and caught the metro to St. Peter's, a stop before crossing the River Wear and entering true Makem land.
Crossing the road outside the station we made for St. Peter's Church, one of the oldest in England, built in 678AD by Benet Biscop with the aid of a grant from Coelfrith, king of the Saxon kingdom. Amongst its alumni was the Venerable Bede who joined at the age of seven but at thirteen moved to the monastery at Jarrow where he wrote a history of the church of England.
 A gentleman gave us an interesting tour of the church, including the tower, the only remaining part of the original building. He told us that St. Cuthbert himself had passed through the tower, we were walking in the footsteps of the greats. Like the monastery on Holy Island St. Peter's was knocked about a bit by the vikings, rebuilt in the 11th century and ruined again in the "delusions" (sic)* of the monasteries in Henry VIII's time.
The slightly leaning tower of Peters. The original tower consisted of the two lower sections only. There are carvings of herons on the entrance making it a proper gadgie walk. The rest of the building is Victorian, badly damaged in 1984 but beautifully restored. Many Americans bring their "ancestors" (sic) to visit the church.*

Leaving the church we walked to the National Glass Centre and stopped for refreshment. I had coffee, a teacake and the cream from Harry the routemeister's scone.
Some of us went to watch a demonstration of glassblowing, it was very interesting and the gentleman produced a very nice vase.
 Moving on we walked along the promenade by the Wear, past the marina and some anglers before we hit the coast and headed north. The walk passes Roker, close to the old Sunderland Football ground which they used before moving to the Stadium of Light. It is now a housing estate but on a cold Saturday afternoon when the sea fret rolls in you can still hear a ghostly "Roker Roar".
This part of the coast is interesting for geologists. The first archaegeologvogelmeister pointed out were the "cannon balls" naturally formed spheres of some type of limestone, although I stand to be corrected here.
Beyond Whitburn there is a rifle range so be careful if the red flag is flying and walk inland and round it. Shortly afterwards the next point of interest is Souter Lighthouse, now owned by the National Trust.
Souter Lighthouse, National Trust property.

The next stretch of coast is also interesting, although slowly crumbling. Offshore is Marsden Rock, once the home of families who cut rooms from the relatively soft limestone, Its sea arch has gone, the cliffs and caves are also crumbling away. One of the stacks is home to a good number of cormorants but only four of the birds were visible today. Beyond these are the Leas**, grassed areas which as recently as 1965 was Marsden village, complete with pub, cooperative, Methodist chapel and of course, a pit. All gone, but the limekilns remain and fine examples they are too.

Limekilns at Marsden. Once served by the "Rattler" a railway that ran along the coast from South Shields.

The Great North Run from Newcastle to South Shields ends on the Leas, one half marathon from the start on the Town Moor. Beyond are the Bents recreation ground and park. Past the South Marine Park with its pond and childrens' railway, we turned onto Ocean Road and took in the smells of the curry houses that line one side, but did not stop. Instead we walked the length of the street, across the market to the Alum Ale House on the banks of the Tyne. Looking up river was the Ijmuiden ferry about to leave, and an oil rig being serviced. In the pub was a fine selection of real ales, I chose and enjoyed a couple of pints of Banks Best Bitter. Rested after the walk we strolled back down Ocean Road to the Asha Balti House and enjoyed a curry and several bottles of Cobra, plus a strange story from Harry about a TV show called Men Behaving Badly some tissues and rice pudding. Difficult to explain
Back down Ocean Road to the metro station and home. Nine happy gadgies

My old faithful Higear gave the walk 9.3 miles.
I forgot to switch on the battery booster so had no GPS reading
One of twoped Dave's ASDApeds opened and gave an incorrect reading, the other claimed 11.5 miles. He measured it as 10.1
The exagerometer also claimed 10 miles. Seems good enough to me. Good walk on a bright but breezy day.

* I don't want to offend the enthusiastic man who showed us round the church but I did enjoy these Malopropisms.
** Old English for meadow, pasture or arable land