This is the second of my retrospective blogs that I shall be writing on all of my earlier coastal walks. To lend some structure to this series, I shall be dealing with them in geographical order, starting at Northumberland and moving clockwise until I reach Cumbria. Since memory fades with time, these blogs will be shorter than the more recent ones. However, I do have some photographs of most of my trips and following my progress on the map should help to bring the experiences back to life for me and, hopefully, anyone else who cares to read my exploits.
I took the 0932 train from Birmingham New Street and, as far as I can remember, arrived at Alnmouth on time at 1400. At that time, Virgin held the Cross Copuntry franchise and, although the trains remain the same, but older, Virgin had the edge on humour and making a 5 hour journey more bearable.
On arrival, the day was fine, but slightly overcast. From Alnmouth, it was a short walk down to the A1068 and the cycle track that bordered it. As soon as possible (NU241093) I parted company with the bikes and made for the dunes along St Oswalds Way. The sand was soft, the going heavy and, despite it being a reasonably fine day in May, there were very few people about making for an isolated and desolate atmosphere.
Since I was running behind schedule, I left the beach after the rocks after Birling Carrs (NU255074) and just before Warkworth Golf Club, heading once again for the cycle track beside the A1068 and Warkworth. By now the day was becoming decidedly hazy.
Warkworth is a lovely place complete with castle, ancient bridge and stone buildings. With the exception of the busy A-road, time appears to have left Warkworth unspoilt. On this occasion, I walked by the riverside road past cottages, including the delightfully named "Shrubbery House", while the tranquil River Coquet flowed past on my left. Passing Warkworth Castle, I took the Amble road, following the Coquet River as it broadened out towards the weir which was the only obstacle to be overcome before reaching the sea.
Amble (6 Miles) grew on the Northumberland coal export trade. The coal and the railway are now long gone and the town now subsists on fishing, boat repairs and tourism. The harbour, once busy with coal traffic is now largely taken up by an attractive marina. The town itself is mainly stone built terraces and has a very solid feel to it.
Grabbing a sandwich, I decided to press on in the knowledge that I still had 12 miles to cover and it was already approaching 1700. As I progressed out of Amble, the cloud cover increased and it appeared as though a storm might be brewing. Since there was little in the way of habitation between Amble and Newbiggin, I made the decision to abandon this part of the walk and catch a bus the remainder of the way.
My mistake here was to assume that I could walk through High Hauxley (9 Miles) to catch a bus on the A1068. The pleasurable part of this unscheduled journey was to find that High Hauxley is a very attractive village of both new and old building, all constructed of local stone. The bad news, when I reached the A1068 was to discover that no buses ran along that road. I therefore beat a hasty retreat back to Amble, resolving to be more meticulous in my planning for the unexpected on future trips!
Arriving back in Amble, I found to my relief that I hadn't missed the last bus, so I was soon on my way to Newbiggin via Morpeth in ever fading light. The journey was depressing and a wait of about 3/4 hour seemed endless in drizzly, almost deserted Morpeth. I eventually arrived at my abode for the night, The Windsor Bed and Breakfast, had time for a little exploring before settling down for the night.
Breakfast in the morning was excellent, but the dining room was something else. In comparison to my sparsely furnished, but comforable and scrupulously clean bedroom, the dining room had ankle high carpet and ornaments on literally every horizontal surface. How the owners kept the room, let alone all the bedrooms clean is beyond me.
Fortified by my breakfast, I set out in the drizzle, heading south along the coast path and then across the River Wansbeck next to the busy and noisy A189 dual carriageway. Rather than make a lengthy detour to East Sleekburn via the coast, I travelled west and then carefully negotiated a large road interchange. Moving on, I crossed the Sleek Burn and worked my way through a complicated cycle route at Bedlington before arriving to the west of Blyth at Cowpen (7 Miles).
In an attempt to escape from busy roads, I followed the cycle route through Blyth, arriving at the sea front at South Beach. For my pains, I was rewarded with the honour of walking through one of the most depressing housing estates I have ever seen! I may have done better sticking to the shoreline.
Having reached the sea, things were now looking up. The sun came out and the remainder of my walk along the Eve Black Coastal Walkway was pleasantly warm. Despite its name, Seaton Sluice (11 Miles) was an attractive place, built around a small natural harbour.
All too soon, I was walking along the promenade at Whitley Bay (14 Miles) en route for a rendez-vous with an old school friend I hadn't seen for almost 40 years. We met at the Old Fire Station, now a Wetherspoon pub that managed to retain much of the original atmosphere. I particularly appreciated the fire bucket style urinals!
After a meal and a couple of hours chat, it was time to move on through Tynemouth with its castle, pier and Lighthouses, then onto the bustling River Tyne and North Shields (17 Miles). There, I had a short wait, before boarding the ferry across the river to South Shields.
A short walk through the busy shopping centre took me to the Metro Station and a train to Newcastle. Glancing at the destination board at Newcastle Central, I was horrified to note that my scheduled train had been cancelled. Fortunately I was in the nick of time to catch the previous train which brought me back to Birmingham around 2100.
See the pictures