Saturday, 22 July 2017

A pleasant stroll and a couple of pints. July 21st.
 And what's wrong with that?
Most of the gang are still away, some on the gentlemen's week in Scotland, some on family holidays.
John H., John Ha. and I have decided to have a shortish coastal walk from Blyth in Northumberland to Whitley Bay in the county of Tyne and Wear, an authority forced on us in 1974, the year they abolished Westmorland.
A very straightforward stroll, n o map required but should you insist there are two:
OS Explorer  325  Morpeth and Blyth and OS Explorer 316 Newcastle upon Tyne.
A linear walk but there are plenty of buses between the ends.
We met at Blyth bus station. I am very fond of the town of Blyth, I worked there for 27 years. Once a bustling mining and ship building town it declined in the 70s but is now on the up again, offshore work and industrial parks, plus a little coal exporting!
                 Blyth bus station, not a bus in sight. At least Blyth has a bus station which is more than can be said for nearby Cramlington, a bigger town. (Any Cramlington town councillor reading this take note)
From the bus station we walked east along Bridge Street, crossed over a roundabout and headed for the quayside. When I first came to Blyth the area was run down but things have improved considerably. The old coal staithes have been tidied up, new buildings have sprouted, including a hotel. And of course there is art work.
                                       Quayside art in Blyth. I don't know either.
Beyond the quay we passed Ridley Park which has some terrific rides for children, there were few there it being a school day and, yes, we were tempted to slide and swing.
After walking some distance along the road we turned left at a row of new houses and hit the promenade.
During WW2 Blyth was a submarine depot and the Blyth Battery, dating from both world wars is now a small museum.
                       Blyth Battery, a leftover from world wars.
Beyond the battery we decided to walk along the beach. (No dogs from May until September) The sand was soft and made for hard walking, even the damp strip on the edge of the incoming tide.
                 One of the piers at Blyth
And the long sandy beach heading south towards Seaton Sluice.
 The wind was from the south so we were walking into it. There were plenty of fellow walkers, most of them with dogs. When we reached Seaton Sluice we had no choice but to leave the beach and hit the road. A couple stopped us asking questions about the place. They were from Beverley (Yorkshire) but frequently stayed in the north east and, like most visitors, loved Northumberland. Between the three of us we managed a pretty good if concise history of Seaton Sluice, including a mention of Seaton Delaval Hall, designed bySir John Vanbrugh for the Delavals and built between 1718 and 1729.
                                        Seaton Delaval Hall, now a National Trust Property
The Delaval family, who came over with the conqueror, owned the area's coal mines and a glass works, now all gone. One head of the family had sluices built to scour the river, hence the name of Seaton Sluice. There is not much left to see of the gates but the cut which was dug to make entrance to the harbour easier is plain to see. Exports included coal, salt and glass.
                                        The cut at Seaton Sluice
                              Seaton Sluice harbour.
We took the cliff top road round Collywell Bay, the tide being too high to risk walking the beach, and then followed footpaths to St. Mary's Island where we called a Herbie Spot.
                  St. Mary's Island. You can walk over the causeway when the tide is out. There is a  café and nature reserve.
This was the view from our Herbie Spot. We shared Snickers, Racers and some very tasty Hungarian milk chocolate that John Ha had brought back from Budapest.
Lunch over we continued our walk, taking the footpath overlooking the sea and watching out for flying golf balls from the adjacent pitch and put.
The promenade at Whitley Bay is being rebuilt making it necessary to stick to the footpath until we reached the famous Spanish City, another building being refurbished. Once, when Whitley Bay was a popular holiday resort, the domed building was a dance hall, part of it a cinema. Behind it there used to be a small fairground too.
                                  Spanish City
A little further on  we decided to call in at a small bar attached to "42", an establishment which had a micro brewery. Having sampled a beer called "Spanish City" we moved on to the Fire Station, once exactly that but now a Wetherspoons, always a good bet for good beer.
Then we went home, by bus, after a shortish but very enjoyable afternoon stroll.

A Mini matrix, not having the main pedometer man with us.
        NAK                                        21632 steps                                 6.82 miles
iPhone                                               17985                                         6.3
(Big difference in steps!)
                                   Contains OS data, copyright. Crown copyright and database right 2017