Saturday, 6 January 2018

2018; Let's hope it's a good one...........
 Happy new year to all readers, and с новым годом to the 117 hits from Russia this week. Is that one person, 117 times, 3 people 39 times each or................
 One of my regular readers sent a sarcastic note last week complaining of the lack of a car park photo. Today's walk is also bus based so I can expect more withering remarks.
For the last two years we have kicked off the with a walk from North Shields, up the coast to Blyth. By way of a change today we are walking from Blyth, down the coast to North Shields. Variety is the spice of gadgiedom. No need for a map but the walk is covered by two: OS Explorer 325 Morpeth and Blyth and OS Explorer 316 Newcastle upon Tyne.
Coming to Blyth from different directions we arranged to meet at the Coastline Café just south of the town beyond the pier, near the well preserved Blyth Battery and a row of beach huts.

There are five of us, John x 3, Brian and me.
Once famous for coal mining and ship building, both industries long gone, Blyth now has light engineering industries and a growing off shore base. I suspect this ship has something to do with cable laying from off shore turbines.
                     The Coastline café/fish and chip restaurant, even at 10.30 am the smell of the real British take away was tempting.
 Car park at Blyth beach. Always busy, the beach is popular with walkers, dog walkers, joggers and cyclists. This is only a small section of the car park.
The walk, at last.
Breakfast over we left the café and joined the Eve Black Way heading south. Eve Black was a Blyth councillor, the path is well made and wanders through the dunes to Seaton Sluice. Earlier this year John H., John Ha., and I walked along the beach. The sand was soft and walking was hard work so he stuck to the footpath today. The path passes Gloucester Lodge Farm and after a couple of miles reaches Seaton Sluice.
Once a bustling small port the harbour  is now home to a few small boats.
                   The car park at Seaton Sluice, also popular for walkers etc and just out of sight is a children's playground. Quite busy today, schools are still closed for the Christmas holiday.

The cut at Seaton Sluice. Dug out in the 18th century to enable boats to have quicker access to the harbour, which exported coal and glassware from the nearby pits and glassworks. All gone
At the sluice we turned left, passing the Waterford Arms which sells one of the largest plates of fish and chips in the north. Across the road from the pub is the Harbour View fish and chip restaurant, the smell of cooking was hard to ignore.
We walked along the road which overlooks the remains of Charley's Garden, a sea stack, and Collywell Bay, still known in our house as Collywobble Bay since the days of searching for creatures in the rock pools.
 We took the footpath across fields in the direction of St. Mary's Island, nature reserve and home to a light house but we didn't stop today.
                                  St. Mary's Island from the beach on the way to Whitley Bay.
There is a choice here, walk along the beach or across the grassy links. We opted for the beach but rejoined the promenade to make use of a shelter for a Herbie Spot. (Not hat it was raining, a bright and sunny day if a little breezy from the north.)
              Happy New Year Sue from Forest Hall and Kathy from Grimsby. 
John Ha. opted to eat alone but was still happy to share his delicious cookies. We also had Eat Naturally bars, chocolate and fruit cake from Essex and individual Bramley apple pies from Sainsbury's.
We suggested he put his hat on the ground, he could collect enough money for the beers, as several people stopped to discuss the weather with him, and why wasn't he with the rest of us
Lunch over we continued on our way along the promenade through Whitley Bay to Cullercoats, walking high above Brown's Bay and Cullercoats Bay. Not a fish wife in sight, but evidence of artists.
             Fishing boats and untidiness in Cullercoats
                                But there is a car park
                          And a research station belonging to Newcastle University
                                         Cullercoats Bay
Beyond Cullercoats we descended to the beach, the going was soft to hard, and walked the Long Sands towards Tynemouth. Another popular walk for families with and without dogs, cafes at both ends, one Ancient and one Modern. And there is a surfers' shack, the area is famous for boarders, wearing wet suits today.
               The Long Sands at Tynemouth, ruins of the Priory just visible on the left.
                   The Grand Hotel at Tynemouth (And a car park; foreground) The hotel was originally built as a summer residence for the Duke and Duchess of Northumberland in 1872
Leaving the sands we walked past the castle and priory and down to the promenade that linksTynemouth with North Shields.
                     Gateway and barbican at the castle. There is some evidence of fortifications on the site going back to the iron age. Edward I granted a " licence to crenellate " in 1296 and originally there were walls surrounding the priory too, but some fell into the sea,
                       The priory, it is thought there was a monastery here in the time of Bede, 7th century. 
The Benedictine Priory was dissolved in 1536, no guesses as to who ordered that.
 The walk along the promenade follows the Tyne very closely. Above is the imposing statue of Lord Collingwood, fairly local lad who made good, taking over from Nelson at Trafalgar when the national hero was shot.
                             Collingwood, from behind today.

Approaching North Shields. The two white buildings are the Low and High lights. Built as navigational aids for ships entering the river. Line them up for the right channel.
At the end of the promenade, before the quayside with its fish and chip shops, fish merchants and so on is a new statue dedicated to the fishermen who were lost at sea.
             The work of Ray Lonsdale, made from welded metal, I think. It makes, we all agreed, a fitting memorial. Had it been left to the Brit Art crowd they would have come up with a pickled plate of fish and chips or an empty plate next to a bed.
                 North Shields car park and unwanted buoys.
Walk over we went to the oldest pub in North Shields, the Low Lights Tavern

And what a great pub. Fine selection of beers on tap, proper pub grub; pies of all descriptions (including a vegetarian one), fish and chips, sandwiches and sausages. And furthermore, to a tight fisted Yorkshireman who has a tungsten padlock on his wallet, short arms and deep pockets, a true delight. Following gadgie tradition, the two birthday boys, John H. and John Ha. bought the beers.
What a good walk we had today, not the greatest for scenery perhaps but a fine start to the year on a familiar footpath.
Not having Dave with us today, mileage readings are limited:
iPhone claimed 8.5 miles as did OUTDOOR GPS.
Contains OS data copyright. Crown copyright and data base right 2018