Friday, 7 December 2012

My father was the keeper of the Eddystone Light.

December 7th.
 On Tuesday we had snow, on Wednesday it melted a b it and then froze, on Thursday it melted a bit more so we decided to have a local walk making use of public transport so nobody had to drive.
This walk has been covered before (To the Lighthouse) and is a popular one when we gadgies don't want to travel far.
There are five of us out today, pun, vogel, route, halfmarathon and blogpie and we are starting the walk at Killingworth bus station. From Newcastle buses 62 and 63 go to Killingworth and there are probably others too. Being a local walk we managed without a map but should you want one OS Explorer 316 Newcastle upon Tyne covers the walk.
Leaving the bus station we turned left up the hill past the Shire Horse public house, turned right at the mini roundabout and at the first underpass turned left up the old wagonway. At the end of the path we turned right along a dismantled railway.The ground was quite icy and we had to take care in places, brittle bones when you are a gadgie. When the railway met a road we turned left and then right across the A19 and continued on our icy way to the old mining village of Backworth, continuing past the church of St. John the Baptist until we reached a proper railway line, with a track.
                                         St. John the baptist's church, Backwor
Having crossed the line we took a track to the right and followed footpaths across fields until we came to the church at Earsdon.

                                  St Alban's church Earsdon.
Wearing his archaeologist's hat Dave the vogel meister pointed out what were probably the remains of the medieval village of Earsdon and some ridge and furrow, There was a chapel here in 1250 but that was replaced with the present church in 1836. In the graveyard is the memorial to the 204 men and boys killed in the Hartley pit disaster of 1861.
We walked down the side of the church on a marked footpath and across fields past Holywell Grange Farm, turning right down a section of the Holywell Dene before climbing out into the village. Evading two pubs we walked through an estate and at the last street found the footpath for Holywell Pond where we declared a Herbiespot in a conveniently large and comfortable bird hide. Fortunately Brian had a key for this hide and once inside we lunched on the usual pork pies, sandwiches, mince pies as it is nearly Christmas and some of Ben's homemade ginger biscuits.
The pond was quiet,some teal and tufted ducks, the ubiquitous mallard and moorhens. A considerable number of grey lag geese flew over the water to a field beyond. There were a number of feeders near the hide, very popular with several varieties of tit, most of which kept their heads down when a male sparrow hawk flew through. After lunch we returned to the footpath and had not gone far when we spotted a waxwing in a tree.
                                              Holywell Pond.

                                 Waxwing. I only had a pocket camera
These birds come to Britain from Scandinavia for the winter and are usually seen in flocks stripping bushes of their berries. They are not too common so we were quite excited.
At the end of the path we turned right down a  dismantled railway line until we came to an entrance to Holywell Dene.  The Seaton Burn was full of dirty water, sure sign of the heavy recent rain and snow. At one point in the dene a feeding station provided food for another family of tits and we also spotted a pair of nuthatches and a heron. Regular readers will know a proper gadgie walk has a heron. We followed the Dene until we got to Seaton Sluice, once a harbour for coals and glass from the nearby  mines and factories, now a place of interest and excellent fish and chips.

                                                   He almost got away

                                                Waxwing !
From the sluice we followed the coastal path to St. Mary's Island, passing on the way, a field with several alpacas.
We were promised a black redstart at St.Mary's but couldn't spot him although we saw sanderlings, ringed plovers and greenshanks, plus a cormorant.

                                    St. Mary's Lighthouse
From the island we walked along the beach until we got to Whitley Bay. It started to rain so we decided to seek shelter in a Wetherspoons pub. The Abbot Ale was in fine form and nobody had to drive.....................
We all got buses home though.


I think Hi gear has died, it claimed 1.9 miles

                                                      steps                                   miles
ASDA slim                                  27548                                   12.94
ASDA curve                                 26254                                  12.01
LIDLUSB                                     25963                                   11.88

OUTDOORS GPS                                                                    12.66
Bragometer                                                                                12.63

A good walk on a bright cold day.

 Contains OS data Copyright. Crown Copyright and database right 2012