Friday, 2 November 2012

Seaburn to South Shields - 27 October 2012 - 8 Miles on foot

Click to see the pictures

An early rise and a drive through the dark early morning and I was at Tamworth Station in good time to catch the 0646 to Newcastle.  The train was quiet and the journey uneventful apart from chatting to some fellow travellers who were headed for a shopping trip in York.  I shuddered at their adventure for the day just as much as I am sure they shuddered at mine.  The train was punctual into Newcastle and I quickly made my way into the Metro system for the next part of my journey.

The fare system on the Metro system is the most impenetrable anywhere I have come across, there are no ticket offices, the ticket machines do not give change and it is the hardest thing in the world to buy the correct ticket unless aided by an expert.  Fortunately, help was at hand in the form of a station assistant who took pity on me, advised on the best ticket and personally dispensed change as the change machine was broken.  On the journey, I discovered the necessity of buying the right ticket when two ticket inspectors boarded my carriage at an intermediate stop and shouted, "tickets ready for inspection".  They rapidly progressed through the train until they came across one man who did not have a ticket.  He was dragged off at the next stop to await a fate I can only imagine!

Having walked the dreary mile between the seafront and Seaburn Station on a previous occasion, I decided to give it a miss and caught the bus instead, arriving at Seaburn Lighthouse at 1050.
Roker Lighthouse from Seaburn
On arrival at the seafront, I was greeted with some light hail and a fresh wind that blew from the direction in which I was to travel.  The sea was choppy and the sun shone for most of the time, making for some atmospheric pictures.  Having donned my warm hat and gloves I set off northwards along the well maintained coast path.  The path ran parallel to the road, but a respectful distance apart for almost the whole of the walk.  There were a number of other people around, mainly dog walkers and a few other lost souls.
Lost souls?
Whitburn (1135 - 1.5 miles) is a post war housing development over which towers what appears to be a working windmill complete with sails.  From here the route crosses broad grassy meadows along low cliffs with many stacks and sea arches standing above the shallow water.  The way passed some, apparently and hopefully, disused shooting ranges to Souter Lighthouse (1206 - 3.1 miles).  Here I took a rare opportunity, on my coast walks, to visit a National Trust property, Souter Lighthouse.
Souter Lighthouse
Souter Lighthouse has the distinction of being the first in the country to be powered by electricity.  Following a general description of the functions of the stand-by generator and the compressors required to power the massive fog horns, I made my way to the simple two up - two down accommodation for a lighthouse keeper and his family.  These rooms were furnished with period furniture and contained appropriate nautical touches in the pictures on the walls and clothing displayed in the bedrooms.  A short climb up the tower and I was back into the cold for the final part of my walk.
Marsden Lime Kilns
In the mid 1800's, a large village was built in the area around the lighthouse to house the workers at the nearby limestone quarry and lime kilns.  In the 1960's, all of the building were torn down and all that now remains is a broad stretch of grass and the ruins of the lime kilns.  The route now remained close to the road until, at Marsden (1250 - 4.1 miles), the green area broadened out again into "The Leas" and the path meandered along the coast and past the massive Marsden Rock.  The rock was, until recently, a large sea arch and it is a mere shadow of its former self.  For some reason, Marsden Rock is a favourite spot for people in the area to commit suicide, as evidenced by the enticing adverts from the Samaritans.
Marsden Rock
The path now descended to the sand strewn promenade that led towards the mouth of the Tyne, past the obligatory amusement park doing meagre business with the brave souls who had taken the trouble to brave the elements.  Having reached the Tyne (1355 - 7.1 miles), the were a few delights to amuse me - dancing lady sculptures, moored fishing boats and some tasteful waterside apartment developments - before arriving in South Shields (1420 - 8.4 miles) which could be almost anywhere in the UK.
Colmans Fish and Chips
Colmans Restaurant came highly recommended and they did not disappoint. The fish and chips were beautifully cooked and service was both friendly and efficient.  I grabbed a coffee in the local Wetherspoons pub (so I could say I had been there!) before catching the Metro back to Newcastle.  I tried and failed to talk myself onto an earlier train than the one I was booked on, so took myself to a nearby pub and enjoyed a slow pint before boarding the 1835.  Despite delays, I managed to make my connection ay Derby and was home for 2230.

Next trip (and last this year) - 17 November - Battesbridge to Burnham on Crouch - 14 miles by bike

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