A couple of extra places at the mouth of the Tyne; Tynemouth!!

I had to just include these places as I have heard about each of them but I have never visited them. Cullercoats is definitely on the coast and during any hot period is a convoy of cars in each direction along the coast road. Cute, scruffy dogs are the necessary accompanment to very tattooed guys and gals promanarding their way to the beach. I think the queue to the fish and chip was the most impressive sight of the morning. This one is no exception. Every one has a queue like this or longer and its only 1130.

Next is Tynemouth with the ruins of another priory high on the cliffs between its two beaches.

Then a walk around the headland leads to North Shields which looks across the Tyne to South Shields.

I like this architect’s house and office with windows designed for a Ford Transit.

Now the ferry to South Shields and images of Newcastle, only cause I never been there. Am impressed.

So, home tomorrow via the Yorkshire National Park. Should be good.

The last leg of the east coast up to Berwick-upon-Tweed

Oh boy, the last leg of this wonderous east coast is not to be missed. 3 screaming nugggets never to be missed. I’ll start you’ll off gently. Firstly we’ll look back to yesterday’s castle ruins across the bay from Low Newton-by-the-Sea. There is a High one too but the view is not so good.

Along coast is the glamorous, or not so glamorous, depending on your point of view, town and working harbour of Seahouses, overlooked by a layered ring of grey terraces and two pubs on the hill, with little heads poking over the top of WWI trenches, appearing from their trestled tables with pints in hand, ready to go over the top.

The first gem is Bamburgh Castle. This is not a ruin but a well maintained, and very expensive, Victorian tribute to past glories – to Saxon defences against the Vikings, although it can’t have been that effective as it was destroyed by the horned invader in 993, to Norman invasion, they built a new castle here and to big families and governors of Northumberland who live there to this day.

The Holy island of Lindisfarne is best appreciated from a distance. Getting too close means that you have to rub shoulders with thousands of the hoy poloy who trog around its lanes and paths disrupting any spiritual essence that might have remained from the ruins of the priory and the newer church. A word of warning – always check the tide tables before setting out over the causeway, The setting is completely surreal. The vehicles form a caravan through the boggy sands of the Lindisfarne desert to reach the oasis of land in the turmoil of the surrounding waters.

Looking back across the sands is just as impressive.

The castle stands secure in its security blankets of scaffolding and plastic.

Spittal, on the south bank of the Tweed, is a marker for Berwick on the south.

Finally, I reach Berwick-upon-Tweed, occupied by the English & the Scotts equally and full of history and intrigue. The final settlement of any size before the border and surrounded by holiday caravans, it oozes granite history and industry. A town worthy of accolades from both countries.

Finally, I leave you with this little fella that I met on a barbed wire fence at Goswick.

See you all again soon.







Two ruined castles, some working villages and a magnificent coastline

Boy, is this coastline something or what? I can’t get over it. Miles and miles and miles of glorious, soft sandy beaches that bask under a blue, blue sky, interrupted only by the occasional promontory of tougher rocks that have managed to hold out against the sea’s grinding and relentless erosive powers.

I start off at the top end of Whitley Bay looking across at St Mary’s Lighthouse emerging from the fresh morning haze. The gods have breathed onto a cold pane of glass and as the air warms it breathes away into the ether leaving the white silhouette standing clear and precise.

Blyth is a working port. Huge coils of subterranean wiring are stored on quaysides, ready to be laid under vast oceans to link continents with modern technology. By huge, I mean huge. The coils are 10 metres in diameter and require colossal spindles to slowly unravel them.

Newbiggin-by-the-Sea has a lovely natural curve of high sea defences which overlook an installation, the Couple Sculpture, a guy and a girl standing high on a scaffold looking out to sea. Arcs of coal on the beach are clues to the area’s geology and history.

Ambling around Amble is a delight. This is an old working port with ancient timbers marking the skeleton of old wharves and medieval docks and quays. Around the tributary of the river the ruins of Warkworth Castle still stand guard over access inland.

The day ends with two working villages that I love. Both are scruffy, tatty and honest in the paraphernalia that lies about the place. First is Boulter.

Casper’s harbour lies almost empty, waiting for vessels to give it a purpose.

Oh, yes. Across, through the islands of yellow gorse, the ruins of 14th century Dunstanburgh Castle spread out across the sheep grazed grass top of the headland.



The amazing crossing that is the Tees Transporter Bridge at Middlesbrough

This is the most amazing feat of engineering built in 1911 as a crazy gantry to replace the crowded ferries that transported workers across the river to work in the factories and steel works across on the other side. Now vehicles and pedestrians are swung across the waters, suspended underneath the rolling gantry by 30 wires. Absolutely amazing.

Most of the coast north of the Tees is flat scruffy marshland with barriered roads leading to industrial plants, power stations, chemical works and this wreckers yard.

Once you get to Seaton and Hartlepool, yes Hartlepool, it all changes. Wonderful sandy beaches run in front of amusement arcades and candy floss sellers competing with all day fish and chips shops and guest houses. This stretch is real holiday coastline country. First is Seaton Carew that creates the front in front of Hartlepool.

Then up the coast, over the tops of countless colleries that worm their hidden way underground, out into the North Sea. This is Seaham with a mixture of fishing vessels, industry and pleasure craft moored in the harbour below the grand resort dwellings overlooking from on top of the cliffs.

Even Sunderland has a seafront that provides all a family needs. Oh, and its own type of pier.

Looking up the coast Whitburn Colliery remains hidden under protruding cliffs on each side of the sandy holidaying beaches. The only thing to give its shafts away are a couple of brick, cylindrical piers on the cliffside and a large open, grassed recreation area next door to Souter Lighthouse, the first one in the UK to be posted by electricity, created and paid for by subscriptions from the miners.

Finally the long beach of South Shields appears with Tynemouth lording it on the far side of, yes you guessed it, the River Tyne.


Back to the mixed splendour of the north east

On previous trips I travelled up the east coast as far as Whitby. On this short visit I am going further up to explore the historical riches of this coast which manifest themselves in industrial revolution and Victorian splendour mixed up with some pretty dire places that blot out the glory of this coastline.

The first gem is a small fishing village called Staithes with its hugely sloped & cobbled drop to the harbour. The Hovis advert would be at home here.

The town of Saltburn-by-the-Sea is a Victorian treasure with its elegant pier, its vernacular cliff railway, the oldest water-operated one in the UK, and its elegant mansion blocks nailed to the tops of the cliffs. It is both a surprise and a delight, fully worth a visit.

Now there’s a couple of places you might not go out of your way to visit. Just down from the steel works is Skinnigrove, by the ‘sewage output’.

And then there is Redcar with the tractors and fishing boats up on the sea defences of the esplanade and the lines of wind turbines off shore.