Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Alnmouth to Holy Island - 31 Miles - 11 & 12 April 2006

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The journey to Alnmouth was by Virgin Trains, when they held the Cross Country fanchise, leaving Birmingham New Street at 0803 and arriving at an isolated Alnnouth Station at 1204. The weather was fine and warm for April with lots of sunshine. Alnmouth itself (1 mile) is just down the road from the station, past a wood and over a bridge that crosses the River Aln. The place is peaceful and unspoiled with views over the estuary to sand dunes beyond.

An easy walk along the coast path brought me to Boulmer (4 miles). There nothing here to speak of except three or four stone buildings and a similar number of small fishing vessels. Despite this, the place, a small fishing community, had real atmosphere. The path then continued near to Red Stead where a reproduction Neolithic hut had been built close to the path. The path now rose and there were real cliffs for the next part of the walk into Howick (6 miles) and Craster (8 miles).

Craster makes its living from smoked fish. The wonderful aroma that can be sensed from a mile away is delight to the senses. The town itself is businesslike and stone built with a few expensive fish restaurants. There was an empty working harbour - presumably all the boats were out at sea. The local lads were amusing themselves by jumping off the harbour walls into the water.

The impressive ruins of Dunstanburgh then loomed into view just over a mile away and, for the first time on the walk, I was accompanied by quite a number of other people with this attraction in their sights. Rounding the castle, I took to the now almost deserted beach which had low dunes on one side. This turned out to be a mistake as I missed the bridge that crossed the stream and found I had to ford the water at The Skaith (11 miles) or add a mile to my journey. I chose the former option and spent the next hour or so with wet feet.

Low Newton by Sea is a grassy square surrounded on three side by whitewashed buildings. On the other side is the sea. Fortunately one of the buildings housed a pub, so I spent a few enjoyable minutes "resting" here, before continuing over the green fields and cliff tops with a view of the Farne Islands. All too soon, I arrived at Beadnell (15 miles) which can only be describes as a dump. It is approached through a rough caravan site on to seafront shacks that housed the businesses of purveyors of candy floss, wind shields, hot dogs and the like.

Needless to say, I hurried along the road to Seahouses (17 miles) which, although picuresque, had clearly seen better days. I stayed there for a while and ate my fish and chips at a harbourside cafe before making my way along the shore to Bamburgh (20 miles), the Castle walls glowed orange in the setting sun. Finally to my home for the night, the Mizen Hotel which turned out to be both comforable and good value.

After a full breakfast I set out on my second day of walking. There were two obvious routes to Holy Island. The route that kept closest to the sea appeared relatively flat and uninteresting compared to yesterday's walk and, more importantly involved a 1 1/2 mile stretch along the busy A1 road. I therefore elected to walk further inland through the town of Belford, onwards to Fenwick before dropping down to the Holy Island causeway.

I left Bamburgh along the B1341 to a spot that has the lovely name of Glororum, thence across a few fields and down a lane to Spindlestone. The lane then twisted its way through a wooded vale and past a stone windmill. Near Warren Mill, I joined St Oswald's Way which took me into Belford (4 miles)in an almost straight line. Crossing the East Coast Main Line was interesting as I had to telephone the signal box before proceding.

Belford is a delight to the eye with its lovely stone and rustic brick buildings. The centre is spacious and there are a number of attractive looking inns in the town, no doubt built when the A1 ran straight through the town.

I climbed out of Belford along the old A1, and past the fairy tale gateway of Middleton Lodge until I teached Detchant (6 miles). By now, the weather was warm and sunny, very unseasonable for April. The walk along the ridge to Fenwick (9 miles) was hot and tiring, so I was very pleased to be able to purchase refreshment when I arrived there.

From Fenwick, I descended along St Cuthbert's Way over the A1 and under the East Coast Main Line. At that point I discovered that St Cuthbert's Way had been diverted along a new route leading to the Holy Island Causeway. Perhaps research should be undertaken to establish exactly which route he actually used!

Having reached the Causeway (11 miles), I was tired and it was obvious that I did not have time to walk through to Berwick in time to catch my train. I therefore walked along the road to the A1 at Beal and caught a bus into Berwick. I had time for a tour of the town and a meal before catching the 1752 Virgin Train service to Birmingham New Street where I arrived at 2217. Home was then only a short train ride away.

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Monday, 22 November 2010

Burnham on Crouch to Colchester - 13 November 2010

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Essex is not my favorite county. Much of it is very flat, which makes for easy cycling, but there is a feeling of "sameness" where ever you go. For a county that is so near to the money of London I would have expected a much greater attention to keeping the place tidy. Although far away from the fly-tipping of Tilbury, you feel that the area is not loved as it should be. However, this trip did have a few high spots.

This was another early start for a one-day outing, starting at 0620 and the Virgin Pendolino journey to Euston where I arrived efficiently at 0738. The Circle Line was not operating that day, so I opted to cycle to Liverpool Street. At Smithfield market, I bumped into the floats being lined up for the Lord Mayor's Parade. This slowed me up somewhat , but I made it in good time to catch the 0818 to Shenfield. After a wait there, I was on the 0908 and disembarked at Burnham on Crouch (0944).

Burnham on Crouch (1000) is a town of surprises and contrasts. In the middle of a non-decript shopping centre was a very original Art Deco cinema - still complete but in need of repair and a lick of paint. Further on, I came to the waterfront which certainly had received a makeover and contained the sort of restaurants I do not usually eat at (unless someone else is paying)! The exit from Burnham was by way of a dreary ex council estate which had no cohesion of identity.

Back to the station and the road to Southminster (1025) which is dominated by the 15th century pile of St Leonard's Church. There appeared to be nothing else of interest here, so onward to Mayland (1050) which had a much more spacious and cared-for feel. The lovely Mayland Mill was once an inn, but has recently been converted into an Indian restaurant. The weather was fine with little breeze, but the forecast sun was to elude me for the whole trip. I could see the blue sky ahead of me all the time but never caught up with it.

Maldon (1150) looked as though it could benefit from more exploration than I had time for but, on the surface had the air of a bustling town set in an enviable position on the river. Out of Maldon, Heybridge offered very good views of the estuary.

Tolleshunt D'Arcy(1255) is an old village whose most famous resident was the writer Margaret Allingham. Her blue plaque graces a substantial Georgian brick house in the middle of the village.

Layer Breton (1340) is a disappointment except for the painted village sign.

There followed a magical few minutes as I cycled the National Cycle Route Number 1 towards Colchester. The way passed through undulating woodland and over streams. The photos are worth looking at but do not convey the full atmosphere.

Onwards and into busy Colchester along a main road which seemed to go on for ever. Arriving there, I was met with some dilapidation, but the old city centre is a gem. Perhaps the highlight for me was the Playhouse Theatre, now a Weatherspoons pub. Whilst I tucked into my Chilli con Carne and festival ales, I was able to admire the interior complete with stage set and and dummy figures in the boxes. They have done a really good restoration job here.

It was soon time to go to the station to catch the the 1749 into Liverpool Street (1845). It was now dark, so I opted for the Northern Line to Euston where I was in plenty of time to catch the 1943, arriving at Birmingham International at 2100.

This trip just leaves a small stretch of Essex between Walton on the Naze and Felixtowe which I hope to negotiate early in the New Year. I shall then be into Suffolk, the only county I have not yet touched on this project.

See the pictures

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Whitehaven to Hycemoor (Bootle) - 25 September

I took the 0624 London Midland train from Hampton in Arden, arriving in Birmingham New Street at 0639 where I changed to the 0657 Cross Country Voyager which arrived at Stafford by 0729. A short wait saw me on the 0735 Virgin Pendolino which arrived at Lancaster at 0852. Th slowest part of my journey was the 0902 Northern Trains service from Lancaster which took almost 2 1/2 hours to reach Whitehaven at1127.

There was room on the train to assemble the bike, so I was quickly on my way through this attractive seaport. The town is not big enough to allow any unsightly commercial development and the waterfront area had bebefitted from a recent refurbishment. Almost immediately, I was into a stiff climb to "The Beacon" followed by a ride to St Bees (1215) via Sandwith and Rottington.

St Bees is a quaint town, virtually intouched by development. Following a stop to take a few photos, I cycled along the quiet coast road through Nethertown (1235) and Braystones (1245) with its attractive river views. , turning inland to Beckermet.

From Beckermet, the route follows a disused to meet the sea at Sellafield. I had expected that the Sallafield Complex would dominate the whole area but, apart from the tall chimneys, very little can be seen of the works until the access road is reached. With the seaon the right, a track follows the railway line with Sellafield on the left, over low dunes until Seascale is reached (1330). With a bit of investment in the buildings in the centre, Seascale would be a very attractive and tidy little resort, but it is currently spoiled by one or two eyesores.

Inland again to Drigg (1345) which was celebrating its Harvest Festival by displaying scarecrow figures in a variety of identities - Postman, canoist, maid etc. The display certainly brightened up my journey through the village. Afterwards, Holmrock and Ravenglass (1415) which was approached by a narrow footpath slung over the river below the railway bridge.

Ravenglass is beautifully sited on green banks, on the edge of the Irish Sea with the backdrop of the Lake District mountains - a perfect place for walking, cycling, or just being. I enjoyed my refreshments whilst seated on a conveniently situated bench.

To the south of Ravenglass is a ford over the River Esk, but I decided to cycle round to Newbiggin by the A595 which, for much of its length had a cycle path to segregate the traffic. From there, it was a minor road past Eskmeals Range to Hycemoor Station (1530) and the Lancashire Banking Comany building which was established in 1826.

It seemed strange to put my hand out to stop a train, but that's what you do in these parts and I was soon on my way coutesy of the 1605 Northern Trains service to Barrow in Furness (1653), where I refreshed myself at the local Wetherspoon pub. Then, back to the station to catch the 1803 which took me to Preston for 1930. A longish wait then ensued before the 2213 Virgin service whisked me off to Birmingham New Street. There followed a short wait until the 2213 London Midland train took me back to Hampton in Arden and the parked car.

See the photographs

Wednesday, 3 November 2010


I realise that I have now been traveling along the coast of England for 26 years on and off. Most of the journeys have been made on foot and it is only recently that I have invested in a folding bike to speed up my progress, particularly through the more isolated areas. The blog has been going since 2009, but all journeys made before then remain unblogged - until now.

My aim during this winter is to write up as many of my past trips as I can, before the memory of them fades! I shall start off from Holy Island and move clockwise around the country. Below is a table of what I have (and have not) walked. Sections which remain to be walked are shown in bold type. The cycled stretches are noted - all the rest have been walked.

As I make further progress, the chart on this page will be updated.



Border ◄► Berwick 4

Holy Island 10

Holy Island Bamburgh 12 12 2006
Bamburgh Alnmouth 20 20 2006
Alnmouth Amble 9 9 2008
Newbiggin 13

Newbiggin South Shields 15 15 2008
South Shields
Seaham 20

Billingham 20

Billingham Saltburn 16 16 2008
Saltburn Whitby 17 17 2005
Whitby Ravenscar 18 18 1998
Ravenscar Cloughton 10 10 2005
Cloughton Scarborough 3 3 2000
Scarborough Filey 10 10 2000
Filey Bridlington 18 18 2000
Bridlington Hornsea 13 13 2000
Hornsea Withernsea 19 19 2010
Withernsea Hull 23 23 2010


Hull Cleethorpes 37 37 2010 By Cycle
Cleethorpes Mablethorpe 23 23 2001 By Cycle
Mablethorpe Skegness 16 16 2001
Skegness Wainfleet 12 12 2007
Wainfleet Benington 12 12 2007
Benington Boston 11 11 2007
Boston Fosdyke Bridge 11 11 2007
Fosdyke Bridge Holbeach St Matthew 8 8 2009 By Cycle
Holbeach St Matthew Dawsmere 2 2 2009
Dawsmere Sutton Bridge 9 9 2009 By Cycle
Sutton Bridge Kings Lynn 14 14 2006
Kings Lynn Dersingham 10 10 2007
Dersingham Hunstanton 9 9 2007
Hunstanton Wells 19 19 1995
Wells Cley Next Sea 13 13 1995
Cley Next Sea Sheringham 7 7 1995
Sheringham Happisburgh 17 17 2006
Happisburgh Winterton 13 13 2006
Kessingland 23


Snape 30

Felixstowe 27

Walton on the Naze 14

Walton on the Naze Colchester 28 28 2010
Maldon 24

Burnham / Wallasea 28

Burnham / Wallasea Southend 21 21 2010 By Cycle
Southend Gravesend 25 25 2010 By Cycle
Gravesend Rochester 15 15 2008 On Foot
Rochester Herne Bay 39 39 2009 By Cycle
Herne Bay Dover 44 44 2009 By Cycle
Dover West Hythe 15 15 2009 By Cycle
West Hythe Lydd 15 15 2008 On Foot


Lydd Rye 10 10 2008
Rye Hastings 13 13 2009
Hastings Eastbourne 15 15 2007
Eastbourne Seaford 13 13 2007
Seaford Brighton 14 14 2006
Brighton Worthing 12 12 2006
Worthing Littlehampton 9 9 2006
Littlehampton Pagham 20 11 2004
Pagham Wittering 20 20 2004
Wittering Emsworth 20 16 2004
Emsworth Portsmouth 15 15 2003
Portsmouth Southampton 19 19 2003
Southampton Milford 20 20 2003
Milford Bournemouth 14 14 1991
Bournemouth Swanage 14 14 1996
Swanage Worth Matravers 10 10 1996
Worth Matravers Lulworth 12 12 2005
Lulworth Weymouth 12 12 2005
Weymouth Abbotsbury 14 14 2005
Abbotsbury Burton Bradstock 8 8 2005
Burton Bradstock Charmouth 8 8 1974


Charmouth Weston Mouth 15 15 1992
Weston Mouth Otterton 6 6 2004
Otterton Starcross 11 11 2001
Starcross Torquay 15 15 2001
Torquay Kingswear / Dartmouth 10 10 2001
Kingswear / Dartmouth Slapton 8 8 2007
Slapton Salcombe 15 15 2007
Salcombe Bolt Tail 12 12 2007
Bolt Tail Challaborough 7 7 2005
Challaborough Stonehouse 21 21 2005
Stonehouse Looe 23 23 2006
Looe Fowey 12 12 2008
Fowey Charlestown 10 10 2008
Boswinger 14

Portscatho 12

St Mawes / Falmouth 6

St Mawes / Falmouth
Coverack 18

Mullion 17

Penzance 20

Lands End 15


Lands End
St Ives 20

St Ives
Porthwellan 18

Newquay 18

Padstow 17

Port Isaac 17

Port Isaac
Boscastle 17

Bude 17

Welcombe Mouth 10

Welcombe Mouth Bucks Cross 20 20 2008
Bucks Cross Barnstaple 20 20 2010 By Cycle
Barnstaple Combe Martin 27 27 2010 By Cycle
Combe Martin Great Hangman 3 3 1991
Great Hangman
Trentishoe 4

Trentishoe Lynmouth 8 8 1991
County Gate 6


County Gate Silcombe Farm 4 4 2009
Silcombe Farm Minehead 12 12 2009
Minehead Bridgwater 29 29 2010 By Cycle
Bridgwater Burnham (WSM) 18 18 2009 By Cycle
Burnham (WSM) Brean 8 8 1998
Brean Weston Super Mare 5 5 1998
Weston Super Mare Clevedon 17 17 1998/2009
Clevedon Avonmouth 15 15 2005
Avonmouth Chepstow / Chester 8 8 2005


Chepstow / Chester Neston 15 15 2002
Neston West Kirby 8 8 2003
West Kirby Liverpool 12 12 2002
Liverpool Southport 26 26 2002
Southport Tarleton 12 12 2005
Tarleton Preston 10 10 2006
Preston Andsell 16 16 2006
Andsell Fleetwood / Knott End 18 18 2003
Fleetwood / Knott End Lancaster 20 20 2004
Lancaster Morecambe 16 16 2004
Morecambe Arnside 16 16 2004
Arnside Grange 15 15 2004
Grange Cark 12 12 2005
Cark Ulverston 14 14 2008
Ulverston Barrow 10 10 2008
Hycemoor (Bootle) 33

Hycemoor (Bootle) Whitehaven 32 32 2010 By Cycle
Whitehaven Maryport 15 15 2009 By Cycle
Maryport Carlisle 50 50 2009 By Cycle
Carlisle Gretna 12 12 2009 By Cycle


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