Sunday, 1 September 2013

Coastwalk

Seaham → South Shields

halliwell-banks.png Distance: 19.03 miles
Ascent: 325 metres
Duration: 6 hours 16 minutes

Surprisingly rural
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"You're trespassing," said the man collecting blackberries. "So are you," I replied. He smiled as he put another handful of fruit in his carrier bag.

We knew there was no right of way along the disused railway into Sunderland, but equally we'd passed no signs telling us to keep out and had heard it was a lovely walk. Still, half a mile since joining the path we wanted to be certain there was a way out. Every time we met someone we asked the same question: is there a way out ahead?

sunderland-railway.png"You'll come to a railing; go left to a gap in the wall, jump down there. Or you could go right to the gate at the end, past the barking dog," said the boy with grubby hands.

A little further on an elderly man had set up a worktable and was painting a landscape of the backs of the adjacent warehouses on a long scroll of paper. "I'm not sure," he replied, "but be sure to walk to the very end - it's a lovely walk."

At a fork in the track we met the man with the blackberries. We gave up after talking with him. "I come here every few days," he said. "If there was a way out, I think I'd know about it. There used to be gaps all over the place, but then they put these new fences up..." He completed that sentence by gesturing at the shiny new steel fences.

We turned round. We looked at the gap the grubby boy had mentioned, but didn't fancy the nine foot drop onto the road. The artist greeted us as we passed him for the second time: "Thought you'd be back. Wonderful, isn't it?"

Yes.

marina-doors.pngYes, it is wonderful. That's been a theme today: unexpected beauty. From the overgrown, disused railway serving triple-duty as a playground, forager's pantry and artist's studio, to the surprisingly rural feel of the cliffs.

marsden-cliff.pngThere have been more surprises too: the wild flowers growing alongside the path at Whitburn; the curiosity of the Marsden Grotto cliff lift; the feel of the prom in South Shields, which was reminiscent of places like Brighton; the "Weeble"-like sculptures adjacent to tonight's accommodation at the mouth of the Tyne. This is a place that deserves further exploration.

little-haven-weebles.pngThis weekend we're following Natural England's report on a proposed route for the English Coast Path in this area. The route was accepted over the summer, and will be formally opened next spring. Hopefully by that time the couple of gaps in the path north of Seaham that started our day will be reopened. We're pretty sure the railway path won't feature on the route though.

wild-flowers.png

Posted by pab at 19:11 | Comments will be back one day. Please email me instead!