NORTHUMBERLAND COAST PATH
Our final day, and in spite of the Met Office app saying clear skies and sun, the weather was dull and overcast. On a positive note though, the cloud appeared to be thinning as we set off from Beadnell. The first part of the walk took us along the road heading out of the village. But at the end of the housing we managed to find a way down onto the sands to continue heading north. On our last visit we stayed up alongside the road, but found it a bit on the dull side - today we were right alongside the rising tide line as we tried to find firm sand to walk on.
Close to Seahouses we found the spot where we had to dodge back onto the road, following the bank of the Annstead Burn.
Alongside Annstead Burn
We were back on the road briefly, then turned right and headed round the golf course, threading our way between the various greens and keeping a good lookout for golfers. We made a left turn and passed though a kissing gate near Braidcarr Rocks and caught a glimpse of a small cliff which was home to a colony of (mostly) kttiwakes, with a handful of fulmars thrown in for good measure.
Kittiwakes at Braidcarr Rocks
The harbour came into sight and our walk took as right alongside it, initially with an elevated view where we paused to take in the wildlife. Lots of eider ducks were in the harbour today as well as a handful of fishing boats unloading their catch.
Eider ducks (and Geri)
Fishing boats unloading their catch
Geri treated us to a mini doughnut each, and Stu held onto them as were started to leave Seahouses. We walked along the cliffs for a short while and then took the opportunity to grab a large 6 seater bench for a coffee break.
Distant view of the Farne Islands as the weather suddenly perked up
We were entertained by numerous sand martins who were obviously preparing to nest (if they weren't nesting already) in the sandy cliffs. As we drank our coffee, the sun started to make its presence felt, and things started to look up.
We were eager to get away from the road and back onto the sands. Strangely, the official coast path now dodges inland and passes through fields well away from this beautiful stretch of coast. This was not for us, and we were soon backon the sandy shore in glorious sunshine.
Heading towards Bamburgh
eider ducks resting on the rocks
and a pair who obligingly stood as I took a photo
more sand martins
Greenhill Rocks - the only rocky bit we had to negotiate
first view of Bamburgh Castle
At last Bamburgh Castle came into view between the dunes. Almost immediatley the view was lost as we continued northwards, passing more eider ducks on the rocks out to sea.
more eider ducks
a distant view of Holy Island
seeing a bit more of Bamburgh Castle now
looking back towards Seahouses
We headed for a gap in the dunes and circled round the northern edge of the castle. Our attention was drawn to a bench perched on top of a hillock. Needing no further bidding we scrambled up the steep pathway to discover that we had unwittingly arrived at the Kingsmill number 1 lunch spot in the UK! By a strange coincidence, our holiday destination last year - Rhosneigr Beach, was voted number 9, and one of our favourite destinations for walks inland, the Elan Valley was voted number 7.
little wonder that this view won the competition
We sat and had our lunch and took in the magnificence that was Bamburgh Castle. A fitting view to end or short visit to Northumberland
Panoramic view of Bamburgh Castle
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Day 2 with Sue and Stu and we're off to Beadnell to park my car, then return in Stu's to Craster. Stu seemd to have a bit of an issue with the parking ticket machine, so Sue went and sorted him out.
Once again, we were blessed with clear blue skies, and a cold north easterly wind. We made our way down from the car park to the harbour at Craster.
We headed out of the village on the coast path towards the entrance to Dunstanburgh Castle,
following the coast path with the golf links to our left took us quite close to the castle walls
As we left we looked back to the guano streaked cliffs of Rumble Churn, spotting the usual kittiwakes and fulmars and a few guillimots.
We continued along the path, passing the golf club and some remarkable rock formations.
We moved off the coast path which followed the dunes inland and got down onto the sands as soon as we were able, enjoying the easy walking as we looked out at Embleton Bay. It was hard to resist looking back to Dunstanburgh Catle as we went.
Embleton Bay and Dunstanburgh Castle
As we approached Newton Pool nature reserve, Sue was greatly impressed by a pair of handsome looking Exmoor ponies in a field.
We could see quite a few water birds on the lake and so we took the opportunity to enter one of the hides to get a closer look. The first birds I spotted were a pair of teal - their handsome brown and green striped heads shining in the sunlight. A further pair could be seen further out in the lake. A group of grey lag geese snoozed on the land adjacent to the hide as we quietly left and moved on.
We were now getting close to the tern colony. A couple we spoke to in the hide at Newton Pool advised us that the terns hadn't yet arrive, which was a disappointment. However, as we approached the area there were signs of the National Trust setting up the ranger camp. The closer we got the more it was evident that the terns had already started arriving in numbers, both arctic terns with a handful of little terns as well.
The ranger camp being set up
The terns diving and wheeling, but not yet ready to start nesting
We went up to the ranger cabin and spent a while watching the tern activity until it was time to leave; retracing our steps to the bridge across the Brunton Burn. Just across the other side of the burn, a convenient hollow offered itself as a sheltered spot for lunch.
The final stretch took us across the sands to Beadnell were we went and explored the harbour.
Once we arrived at Beadnell, we visited the lime kilns and looked back towards Dunstanburgh for one final look.
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A distant view of Dunstanburgh
We had been very impressed with our dirst visit to Northumberland 2 years ago. We had shownour friends the phots we had taken and had inspired our very good friends Sue and Stu to join us for a 3 day walk on the coast path.
We stayed at a pleasant b&b in Alnmouth and after the usual car shuffle set off on a brillantly sunny morning from Alnmouth heading for Craster.
The first thing that became apparent were the huge corrugated concrete blocks that were scattered, apparently at random along the length of the dunes - these were anti-tank cubes which were constructed during the second World War together with a number of other defences against invasion.
Anti tank cubes at Alnmouth
The tide was going out as we set off along the sands, walking close to the water's edge to find the firmest of the sand. There was a chilly north easterly wind which kept us comfortably cool in the bright sunlight as we headed to our first minor diversion and headed inland at the golf course.
Geri & Stu at Alnmouth Golf Club
We were soon back on the sands and rounded Seaton Point. Besode a large field adjacent to Marmouth Scars we were intrigued to spot a number of pheasant feeders scattered around a couple of fields. We were having a good look over the fence when Geri and Sue spotted a hare loping slowly across the field. Then we saw a lapwing flying nearby, presumably trying to distract the hare from her nest. A handful of shelduck completed the picture as we continued our walk.
Flushed with success at our bird spotting we then spotted two male and one female eider ducks resting on some nearby rocks.
We were heading now for the village of Boulmer, and passed a pair of navigation markers at Boulmer Haven.
navigation markers at Boulmer Haven
As we approached the village our thoughts turned to a coffee break, and we began to look for a suitable location out of the cold wind.
The former lifeboat station now manned by volunteers
As we passed the spanking new village hall we spied some benches and so took our break sheltered by the Boulmer Memorial Hall. We thought the hall looked brand new, but it had been refurbished in 2015 after the required £55,000 needed was raised in eight months and another £6,000 was donated to provide a new kitchen, as volunteers came forward to cater for the increased number of visitors.
The splendid Boulmer Memrial Hall
As we started off, passing a larged enclosed field, Geri's eagle eye spotted a duck in the undergrowth. As she moved away from our noisy presence, her brood of at least 6 ducklings followed her.
Mother and baby ducklings beating a hasty retreat
Having left Boulmer village we were soonright back on the coast path and we were soon passing the 'Farm Art' we spotted 2 years ago. The pieces now looking distinctly weather worn.
Sue admires one of the pieces of Farm Art
while Geri checks out another
We passed the strangly named Longhoughton Steel
followowed by the equally puzzling Howdiemont Sands and Sugar Sands
Howdiemont Sands & Sugar Sands
We crossed the mouth of Howick Burn at Iron Scars. From an old newspaper it was interesting to read that Iron Scars was a place where the stone was taken to make paving stones.
he mouth of Howick Burn at Iron Scars
We stopped to inspect Rumbling Kern - so called due to the noisy ebbing and flowing of the tide through a set of sea stacks and rocky inlets.
Shortly after this we passed by The Bathing House, built by the 2nd Earl Grey of nearby Howick Hall for his family's seaside outings, and since the Earl had 16 children, these were serious outings!
The Bathing House
Lunch was now a pressing need, and I promised Sue and Stu a fine view of Cullernose Point and a bench seat! A little further on from the Bathing House near Howick, fulmars hovered close to the cliff edge, displaying their aerobatic skills.
The view near Cullernose Point was as promised, but since our visit 2 years ago, the seat had been removed. After our break we went up onto the cliffs to admire the fulmars and kittiwakes who constntly launched themselves off Cullernose Point making a racket all the while.
We were now on the final stretch into Craster, passing a number of holiday lets with fine views out to sea as we entered the village.
Our second day on the Northumberland Coast Path looked a lot more promising as far as the weather was concerned. Today our journey was much easier as we drove to Seahouses then walked across the road from the car park to catch the bus south to Low Newton.
St Mary's or Newton Haven
and a fine view back to Dunstanburgh Castle
We walked along the road to the coast path, turned left and away we went across Newton Point. As yesterday we left the actual coast path to walk along the sands wherever it was possible.
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We approached Beadnell in bright sunshine. We could hear sea birds in the distance but couldn't quite make out what was going on. We came across a fenced off area which I ought to have picked up from the OS map as it was clearly marked as a bird sanctuary. This turned out to be the largest mainland breeding colony of Arctic Terns.
Arctic Terns near to the warden's hut
We followed a fenced off track to the warden's hut where a friendy warden explained about the colony and the habits of the 3 breeds they were protecting: Arctic, Little and Roseate Terns. There were hundreds of Arctic Terms, about 3 pairs of Little Terns which I spotted through their powerful telscope and one pair of Roseate Terns.
Beadnell tern colony
Reluctantly we took our leave and went on our way, crossed the suspension bridge over the brook and headed across the sands to Beadnell harbour. This harbour is quite distinctive as it has an inland facing entrance and is dominated by limekilns built in the 18th century. We had only been there a few minutes when the bright sunshine suddenly went and a hail stom set in. Fortunately the limekilns offered us shelter and a seat where we stopped and took our coffee break.
Near Beadnell harbour
The limekilns at Beadnell
Hail as we sheltered in the limekilns
Soon it was time to continue towards Seahouses. Once again we favoured walking on the sands rather than alongside the busy B1340 road. As we approached Seahouses we came to another deep brook adjacent to the golf course. We struck lucky as a well trodden path followed the brook inland back to Annstead Bridge on the main road which we regained without too much difficulty. The path then diverted off the road and onto the golf course before we arrived at the harbour.
Approaching Seahouses, more kittiwakes nesting
The harbour at Seahouses
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Our very first trip to the Northumberland Coast Path and we were expecting something completely different - we were not disappointed.
The day started with an early breakfast at our luxurious b&b before we headed off to a car part near the coast at Low Newton (en route being surprised to see a barn owl flying along hedgerow beside us). The problem with this first walk was that we had to catch 2 buses: one to Alnwick (where we had just left) and the other from Alnwick to Alnmouth with a 5 minute window to change buses. In the event this went smoothly enough thanks to the second bus being a tad late at Alnwick bus station.
We were soon at Amble and ready to start our walk north. The weather forecast didn't look very promising no matter which source we chose to view.
Alnmouth Bay looking south
Alnmouth Bay looking north
The coast path here is quiet flat and almost benign to walk on. We quickly discovered that it was a good idea to use a spot of common sense and walk along the sands where pssible as a lot of the coast path is alongside the tall sand dunes, but inland, and so the view of the sea is completely hidden.
As would be expected, we made quite good progress, stopping occasionally to hurridly don a waterproof when the drizzle set in - albeit only briefly when we looked back on the day. We passed through and round Alnmouth Golf Club and back onto the path. We came across a spot of 'Farm Art' attached to a wall which entertained us as we walked towards Boulmer.
Just south of Boulmer we came across two navigation markers to assist boats entering the rock guarded Boulmer Haven.
The navigation markers at Boulmer Haven
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The footbridge at Iron Scars
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We came in sight of Cullernose Point, a renowned cliff with hndreds of kittiwakes nesting precariously one minute ledges. We stopped for lunch on a convenient bench and took in the view.
Fulmars nesting south of Cullernose point
Fulmar - keeping quiet
The gorse on Cullernose Point
Soon we were off again, the skies brightening all the while as we approached Craster. The sun made a brief but welcomed appearance and the temperature started to rise. We passed through Craster and headed for the imposing Dunstanburgh Castle which dominated the area.
Then the sun came out
We passed by the castle, stopping to admire a heron peacefully waiting for his tea and headed for Newton-by-the-Sea.
More kittiwakes as we pass Rumble Churn on Castle Point
Looking back at Dunstanburgh Castle
The sun was out and I estimated we still had a couple of miles to walk, but Geri was having problems and so we parted company at Dunstanburgh Golf Club whenre Geri had a coffe and teacake whilst I finished the last mile and a bit.
A great day's walking and at 11.7 miles, a tad longer than the 10½ miles I'd worked out on my map.