Saturday, 7 January 2017

And the first blog for 2017......Happy New Year.
Walking the coast from North Shields to Blyth
 In 1955 I was at school in Morecambe, Lancashire. The local football team, then a non league club, played Blyth Spartans in the first round proper of the FA Cup. Non of us knew where Blyth was but the name was intriguing. Blyth won after a replay and were forgotten by us. In 1975 I finished up working in Blyth and stayed for the next 27 years during which time the Spartans had several good cup runs. What has this to do with a gadgie walk?                                                                           Nothing really except we are starting off the year in true gadgie style  using bus passes and walking from North Shields to Blyth along the coast and finishing in the Wallaw, a cinema converted into a Wetherspoons pub.
No need for a map but the walk is coverd on sheet 78 of the good old One inch to the Mile series, now renamed 1:50000, Newcastle upon Tyne. Two maps needed using the 1:25000 series;                OS Explorer 316 Newcastle upon Tyne
         OS Explorer 325 Morpeth and Blyth
We met at North Shields Metro station and had tea or whatever at a nearby café. Mugs of tea, great place. There are 7.5 of us, John x 3, Harry, Dave, Brian and me. The 0.5 joined us later.
Leaving the café we walked down the main shopping street towards the river, turned left, turned right and found ourselves outside the Magnesia Bank, a fine pub.
                No car park this week, a metro station instead
                 Good pub, my retirement party was held here.
 Originally the offices of the Stag shipping line, then a pub, called the Stag, now offices again, I think
                      A reminder of the past glories of Tyneside.
The road here is high above the river, great views in all directions, west towards the old shipyards, east towards the mouth of the Tyne and south across the river.
                          Looking west, the boat on the left is the Shields Ferry
              A floating box. Probably a car transport taking Nissan motors to Europe and bringing back VWs
The statue of  Stan Laurel who lived in North Shields when not  living in Bishop Auckland or Ulverston
At the end of the road is another pub of blessed memory, the Wooden Doll, and next to it are some steep stairs which lead down to the quayside.
  The tall tower is the "low light", old navigation building. On the right is the fish quay
                  The stairs down to the quay are on the right of the picture

The building in the background of this awful picture is on Clifford's Fort. built initially in 1672 to protect against the Dutch, improved in the early 19th century to guard against the French.
From the fort there is a promenade alongside the river to Tynemouth, always a pleasant stroll. Towards the end look up at the statue of Lord Admiral Collingwood, number two at Trafalagar and number one when Nelson was shot.
                                  Admiral Lord Collingwood. He lived at Hethpool for a while and his widow planted oak trees.
The road leads up and past Tynemouth Priory and Castle to the promenade.
                     Tynemouth Priory, possibly dating back to Bede's time, dissolved in 1539

 Tynemouth Castle and Gatehouse. There is evidence of Iron Age settlements. Roman occupation and Edward III was very impressed with the castle and priory.
From the promenade we dropped down to walk along the Long Sands, always popular with dog walkers, walkers and surfers too.
                           Tynemouth Long Sands.
At the end of the beach we climbed back to the road at Cullercoats which has a pretty harbour and a Marine Biology Study Centre.

                                        Cullercoats  (Culfre-cots meaning dove cots)
From Cullercoats we continued north along the promenade to Whitley Bay, went down on the beach for a while before climbing back to the promenade to take shelter from the rain and to indulge in the first Herbie Spot of the year. Offerings included tarts with pickle and cheese from Mrs A., mince pies, almond slices, biscuits and chocolate bars. Some do not join in, claiming to be on a diet.
We moved on in the rain towards St. Mary's lighthouse which is on Bait Island. Here we were met by John L. who joined us for part of the walk.
              The Spanish City at Whitley Bay, it is being refurbished. Whitley Bay was once a  popular holiday resort but, like Morecambe, suffered with the invention of package holidays.

                           St. Mary's Lighthouse and café. Inaccessible at high tide.
Leaving the lighthouse we walked round Collywell Bay on the path above the cliffs and along the road to Seaton Sluice.
             Collywell Bay, still known as Collywobble Bay in our house.
Seaton Sluice harbour was built to export coal and glassware by the Delavals of the nearby hall. The sluice was built as a device to scour out the harbour, the cut was blasted out to form a wet dock to facilitate loading.
                Seaton Sluice harbour. The sluice was to the left of the picture

                      The cut, obviously no longer used. Kings Arms pub on the left
John L. left us at the sluice and we continued our way along the footpath/cycleway through the dunes to Blyth. The track is known as the Eva Black trail
               Memorial to three Blyth cyclists who were tragically killed on the road near this spot.
Soon we were in Blyth. Once famous as the chief exporter of coal in England it lost its pits and shipbuilding facilities some years ago. After a period of decline things are looking up for the town, offshore support and wind turbines give life back to the area. Last year the tall ships were here for a long weekend.
      In wartime Blyth was a submarine port. There remains the battery, mostly hidden behind this bank. It opens to the public at times and there is a lot to see.

We headed for The Wallaw, formerly a cinema and now a Wetherspoons pub. The usual selection of real ales was available, between us we sank several pints of Abbott or Plover.
                            End of the trail
A good walk to start the new year, easy going, mostly flat, the actual distance is disputed. Last year it was 12 miles but this year only Dave seems to have walked so far.

The Matrix MMXVII    A

                                                                  steps                              miles
NAK                                                     25322                                10.39
Dave's 3D                                            24951                                 12.22
  ""    USB                                            24265                                 12.25
  ""   NAK                                            24254                                  12.24
iPhone                                                  26424                                    9.3
measured with the little wheel using 1:50000 map                         11
  John Ha.'s measuring                                                                     11.3
 I shall claim 11.5
             Contain OS data Copyright. Crown copyright and database right 2017

                            Delaval Hall,, designed by Van Brugh