Friday, 10 February 2017

It's the biggest blooming village in the world  February 10th   (Northumberland)
As Our Gracie never sang. After last week's wander on the Wansbeck we are headed to the same area, starting a walk from Ashington, heading for the coast, going through Newbiggin and back some way along the Wansbeck.
There are seven of us, John H., John C., Dave, Harry, Ben, Ray and me. Some of us are travelling by bus from Newcastle and some by car, but we are all meeting up in what was once described as the biggest village in the world.
Haymarket bus station, Newcastle upon Tyne, M and S behind it and the round and round car park in the background

Ashington once had several coal mines,all gone. It does retain its links with the past at Woodhorn Museum, built round an old pit yard and with several of the old mine buildings still in place. Asa museum of northern life in the coal fields it is well worth a visit, not only for its displays on mining but also for its art galleries. It's free too, but there is a charge for the car park.
Ashington is famous for producing footballers: Jackie Milburn whose statue is outside the Leisure Centre and Jack and Bobby Charlton, brothers who played for England the only time we won the World Cup. (1966) Steve Harmison, England fast bowler was also born in the village.
As with last week's walk this one could easily be done without a map but if required OS Explorer 325 Morpeth and Blyth covers every step.
We got off the bus in Ashington and walked towards the Leisure Centre to admire the statue.
Wor Jackie. Jackie Milburn played for Newcastle United. I was not a big fan of his because Newcastle beat Blackpool in 1951 and Blackpool were my team although I was only seven.
We walked down the street and crossed the road at a gate which opened first onto the railway line and then the path into the Queen Elizabeth Park. We walked round the lake and past the Woodhorn Museum before turning right, crossing the road and taking the footpath past the Eucalyptus plantation.
The narrow gauge train takes visitors round the lake. The spiky construction on the museum in the background represents a coal cutting machine.
The Eucalyptus trees were grown for a local firm who used the oil extracted from the leaves. We did not see any Koala Bears, too cold probably.
At the end of the path, at Woodhorn we walked past the old mill and along the road to the power station.
The old and the new. People like ancient windmills but many are not so fond of the turbines, one of which is in the background.
 We followed the road into the power station but at a yellow finger post followed the footpath across Newbiggin Golf Course.
 Follow this finger post, unless on business you can not go into the power station.
Ellington Power Station was built to supply the Alcan smelter. The smelter shut down a few years ago and the power is now fed into the national grid.
The coast is very rocky, the path stays close to the edge but it is easy walking round the greens and fairways, just watch out for flying golf balls.
                             World War two relic. The coast was defended because there was some fear of invasion in this area, many of the beaches having a gentle slope towards the land.
Nearing Newbiggin we had to leave the path, it was too near the eroded cliff edge. We walked through a caravan site, re-emerged on the path and came round the back of St Bartholomew's church.
                                                   St Bartholomew's
 The children of Newbiggin buried a time capsule beneath this stone, to be opened in 2100.

This plaque is on the side of the Centre and Museum. Non of us had seen it before or new about the corn exporting. Learn something every day.
As last week we stopped and had a Herbie Spot outside the museum. Today's feast included ginger biscuits, flapjacks, almond tarts and chocolate. This will help replace the weight I have lost through the gadgettes insistence on salad all week.
                           Dave and John, looking cold
                                Ebb and Flo
Lunch over we walked the promenade round the curve of the bay and took the path along the cliff tops. The tide was in and instead of walking along the beach we followed the footpath through the caravan site at Sandy Bay and turned right to take the footpath alongside the river Wansbeck.
                         Looking back at Newbiggin

                Man, dog and the estuary of the Wansbeck
The footpath goes under the Northumberland Spine road, aka the A189. Shortly before the railway bridge there is a signpost pointing up a dene into a new housing estate. From here we walked the road back to the bus station. As we needed refreshment we went to the Wetherspoon's pub, the Rohan Kanhai. Rohan was a West Indian cricketer in the days when the West Indies were a powerful team. He played as professional for Ashington when not in the national side. The pub had Doom Bar, Abbott, Ruddles and several other beers,
We caught a bus back to Newcastle and decided we should visit the Three Bulls in the Haymarket. The pub had Lancaster Bomber and Black Sheep. A good day out.

The Matrix MMXVII F
                                                         steps                         miles
NAK                                                26043                      10.68
Dave's 3D                                       22079                       10.37
  ""    USB                                      21398                        10.46
  ""  NAK                                       21250                        10.39
Garmin                                                                             10,25
John C                                                                               10.4

Some agreement there I think.
Contains OS data copyright. Crown copyright and database right 2017