Friday, 8 January 2016

Blyth Spirits..............January8th (Northumberland Coast)
  Happy New Year to all gadgies, gadgettes and readers.
It has been raining heavily for almost a week in north east England and north Scotland. Towns and villages have been flooded, railways have been closed and road closures have caused mayhem. The weather forecast on BBC Radio 4 on the morning of Thursday January 7th simply said; "Heavy rain in the north east, followed by drier spells." And that was for the whole country! Imagine the kerfuffle if the rain had fallen in the south east.
The team agreed that the ground was so wet a walk in the hills would be more like mud wrestling, a railway walk was vetoed and we finally agreed on a relatively local walk along the coast from North Shields to Blyth, starting from North Shields Metro station, which became the appointed meeting place too.

No car park this week, so here is North Shields Metro Station
                                         and  its very handsome station cat. Remind you of any other feline?
  There is no need to use a map for this walk as it simply follows the coast north once out of North Shields but the one to use if you insist is OS 78 1:50000, Newcastle upon Tyne. For more detail you need two maps; OS Explorer 316 Newcastle upon Tyne and OS Explorer 325 Morpeth and  Blyth.
There is a good turn out today, eight of us; John H , John Ha, John C, Harry, Dave, Ben, Brian and me.
  North Shields got its first mention in 1225 when the local prior thought a small fishing port would be a good idea and it has remained a s a fishing port since. Stan Laurel, half of that famous duo lived in the town for a while but he also lived in Bishop Auckland and Ulverston at various periods of his life before hitting the big time in Hollywood helping Oliver to move pianos.
Leaving the station we turned right down the main shopping street and headed for the promenade above the river, passing the Magnesia Bank. When I had my leaving party from work the farewell drink and supper was held here. A fine pub with a reputation for serving good ale, too early in the morning today.

                                                 Magnesia Bank pub
                                     A reminder of old days when ships thronged the river
                                      Quiet flows the Tyne. Ferry terminal on the right
                                          Out of focus Stan, another fine mess.
 By a pub that used to be called the Wooden Doll appears to have been renamed "How do you do" we walked down a set of steps to the quayside, famous for fresh fish and home to several of the first and best British takeaway food outlets.
                                                North Shields Fish Quay
 The High light, in conjunction with the Low Light the building provided a guide for shipping entering the Tyne

                                      A  much older High Light.
Before the mid nineteenth century it was possible to walk across the river at low tide from North to South Shields. This apparently gave the the saying "Altogether like the folks of Shields". But as the city of Newcastle was losing out in shipping to other ports the river was dredged, allowing larger vessels to go upstream and providing work for ferries. There still is a ferry across the Tyne nearby.
  Further along the quayside we came to Cliffords Fort built in 1672 to keep the Dutch threat at bay. Can you really imagine those nice Netherlanders really invading us, or even bombarding the river settlements? Some excavation work was carried out on the remains of the fort in the 80s by that well known archaeologist D C Kears. His account is available, at a price.
                    Not a mention of the work done by D C Kears
                                              Cliffords cannons
  From the fort to Tynemouth there is a promenade, popular with cyclists and dog walkers, and gadgies. It passes beneath the statue of Admiral Lord Collingwood, a fairly local lad from a good family. He was second in command at Trafalgar in 1805 and took over the top job when Admiral Nelson was shot.
                                         Collingwood and seagull.
At Tynemouth we walked uphill and followed the road past the ruins of the priory and the castle as well as the Gibraltar Rock pub before heading down to the  Long Sands. At Cullercoats we had to climb back to the road.

Tynemouth castle, A fortified site since the Iron Age, with Roman and Norman remains 

                                                      The priory. The first monastery here dates to the 7th century
From Cullercoats we continued on the promenade, mainly because the tide was in.
Whitley Bay was a popular holiday resort before the days of package holidays and now, like Morecambe, is a bit run down although efforts are being made to rejuvenate the old dance hall known as the Spanish City.
Spanish City, Whitley Bay, looking better than a few years ago.
The walk along the links from Whitley Bay to St. Mary's Island still has several shelters and cafes. We chose one shelter for a Herbie Spot and had the first exchange of the year:
Tracker Bars, Almond Slices, ginger flavoured flapjacks fro (look them up), flapjacks from John H, ginger biscuits from Ben and sweet potato and chocolate cake from Mrs A.
We walk it off.
 We walked down to the lighthouse but the causeway was under water so we continued across the fields to Seaton Sliuce.
                            Gruesome end for both probably. This plaque is near St. Mary's Island

               St. Mary's Island and lighthouse. You can visit when the tide is out
   Seaton Sluice is a small port built by the Delaval family from their nearby hall built by Vanbrugh.
The port had a sluice at one time to allow larger colliers to use it. It also has a cut, dug as an exit to the sea at low tide. Once famous for glassware (another Delaval factory along with the mines, and yes they came over with the Conqueror). Now a small port for small pleasure and fishing boats.
Collywell Bay, known to our family as Collywobble Bay. It was a favourite site for finding sea urchins when Lucy was about ten, but only when the tide was out.

                                                 Boats at Seaton Sluice
                                             Seaton Delaval Hall, Seaton Delaval, Northumberland. 
                           Good Lord, do they have such buildings in the north? I thought it was all coalmines and mean streets.
                                                         The cut at Seaton Sluice.
  From the sluice there is a pleasant walk across the dunes to Blyth. As we entered the town we past the old Blyth Battery. During WWII the port was home to submarines, which made a visit to the town for years after. I took a party of children to one submarine, a diesel model of the Royal Navy. It was cramped.
In Blyth we headed, surprisingly, for the Wallaw. Once a cinema it is now a Wetherspoons pub and eatery. Still looking like a cinema inside it has a good selection of beers although personally I think it too large for a drinking den. As it was Brian's birthday he maintained the gadgie tradition of buying a round for all! Most of us chose Abbott.
                          The Wallaw has preserved the cinema well, including this old projector in the foyer.
Refreshment we went our separate ways home after the first walk of the year.

The Matrix MMXVI   A

                                                                    steps                            miles
NAK                                                            25479                           12.96
LIDL3D                                                      26693                            12.03
Dave's LIDL3D                                          25283                            12.7
  "        USB                                                24555                             12.4
  " NAK                                                      24424                             12.4
Etrex                                                                                                  11.8
OUTDOOR GPS                                                                               11.9
Ben's GPS                                                                                          11.5
Brian's GPS                                                                                       11.9

Pretty good
Contains OS data Copyright. Crown copyright and databaseright 2016.