The Vault Regulars

Sunday, April 5, 2020

Northumberland Coast Path Walk. My Thoughts


The coast path is one of the most beautiful paths you could wish to walk. The beaches are some of the best you can find anywhere. It's not hilly like some of the routes on say the Pembrokeshire coast path or the South West coast path. Swimming is accessible if the weather is kind.

If you are interested in birdlife then you will not be disappointed. I've never seen so many Curlews in one place for example.
The coast has many Golf Courses and Caravan Parks. The golf courses are handy for the odd meal in the clubhouse if they allow public in. Most do.
The caravan parks are handy to get water and some have shops for supplies. (I didn't check them all out).

The scenery is diverse as is the walking. We found the route to be well signposted and in good condition.
Most of the villages/towns are worth visiting and I would say, Warkworth, Bamburgh and Berwick upon Tweed would be well worth an overnight stop and even a day off to look round the history.
Lots of pubs on route, if you time it right then most do meals.
The area is ideal for photographers as the light is incredible. You do get fantastic sunrises and sunsets, vast sea and cloud scapes and we were lucky enough to see 2 double rainbows.

Public transport is available more or less the length of the route but it isn't regular. Most buses are hourly. The east coast main line is not far away from the route giving good access from most parts of the UK.
Campsites - Official campsites are few and far between. Obviously in England wild camping is not allowed but it was obvious on our walk (From campfires) that wild camping does take place, in the dunes mainly. As long as you camp late and leave early using the Leave no trace code then it shouldn't be a problem. If you see farmers along the route it would be worth asking for permission.
Sites that we found for overnight camps are:-

  1. Beadnell Bay
  2. Waren Mill
  3. Waren Campsite, Budle.
  4. Budle Farm Campsite.
  5. Hemscott Mill, Druridge Bay
  6. South Meadows at Belford
  7. Dunstan Hill
  8. Springhill Farm

There are lots and lots of Air B and B properties in Northumberland so this might be an option for some. Joining the Caravan and camping club may get you on one of their sites that don't allow tents usually. A one night backpacker may be treated kindly.

All in all with good planning the coast path can be done backpacking.

Lastly, the local people are very friendly and we chatted to quite a few. We will be going back hopefully.

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Northumberland Coast Path Pt.6

Bamburgh to Belford. Day. 6. 21st March 2020.

We had the day off (19th). We were going to have the day at the castle as it was one of the must do things on our list. We had already checked to see if it was open and it was.
We were having a late breakfast and reading the news on the internet and the reading wasn't good. We purposely isolated ourselves regarding the news, no tv so we were not up to speed with what was happening nationwide.
The message about social distancing seemed to be gaining pace and the panic buying had started. We couldn't believe toilet rolls were going fast. What?

We chatted about it and decided it wouldn't be a good idea to be enclosed with lots of people, so the castle trip was off. There was a couple of holiday lets adjacent to us and we was a bit taken back when they decided to cut short their holiday and go home.

Was we being silly staying? We thought we wasn't, but things were changing by the hour. We were pretty isolated and had plenty of food. We decided to stay, enjoy the cottage, wash some clothes and read. We both read The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris which was eye opening. I finished A winter in Madrid by C.J.Sansom and Roy Keane autobiography which I thought showed him in a bad light.

The next day things were much the same. We were in two minds what to do. People were still walking around Budle Bay in fair numbers, lots of cars passing. We looked at the map and decided that tomorrow we would just walk from Bamburgh Castle to Belford and take it one day at a time.

From the castle the route follows the main road into the village with its local store and quality butchers with award winning pies. Both were open but the pub was shut.
A road on the right called The Wynding is the way ahead. Past a busy car park the coast road leads to yet another golf course.

Just before the course we hit the beach at Stag Rock Lighthouse. Its a wonderful spot and definitely the place to picnic in the summer. Surprisingly all along the road we didn't see one sign for parking charges. All free.

Stag Rock Lighthouse.
Following the beach coves, we agreed these were the best beaches of the walk so far. Absolutely stunning. Just before rounding the point into Budle Bay I checked our route on the iPhone and it put us right in the middle of the course of the river. In reality we were well on the beach which means over the years the course of the river has silted up and it has changed course.

We walked on until we came to the remains of the old mill pier and here we left the beach and retraced our direction through the dunes to a large pillbox and then onto the main road. It was further to walk back up the road than I had envisaged and I was glad to see the sign to Dukesfield where we turn off and go over a stile on the right to get back onto the path proper.

Bamburgh Castle

 Eider Duck
Our view of Lindisfarne, so near yet so far.

 Waren Mill old Pier.
Circa 1850 or earlier.

From now on the rest of the day is inland and to be honest it made a nice change from the constant seascape. As nice as the sea is. We wasn't disappointed, it is a lovely walk to Belford.
Bamburgh Castle from the Dukesfield Turnoff.
The first fields were full of sheep with new twin lambs bounding around and after crossing a couple of field boundaries we were at a minor road. It led to another caravan park, but this one looked smart and well kept.
The path skirts to the left of the park and down passed an old quarry called Spindlestone Heughs with big stone buttress's that looked worthy of climbing. A stone structure caught our eye which was just off the path. It turned out to be another Lime Kiln. Now being used by the farmer to store odds and sods.

The spelling made us laugh.

There was a km or so of minor road walking where we passed an old Grade 2 listed Dovecote which has been turned into a holiday home. Called The Ducket. A little further 2 huge reservoirs are being built. Not the type of reservoir with dams etc but football pitch sized plastic lined type. Across from them the path crosses more agricultural fields until after the watershed it drops down to some massive fields which where being tilled and birds were following the tractors. Typical British rural scenery.
 The Ducket
 View from the Ducket

 John Deere tractor

It got a bit boggy for a short period as we passed another quarry with disused railway line. Then we were at the main east coast railway line at Belford Burn. This is a crossing where you have to ring the signal box and ask for permission to cross.
Ahead were some huge grain silos and all was very quiet. Not sure if it was closed down or closed because of the virus but we never saw anyone or heard anything as we walked along side them.

The A1 was ghostly, no problems crossing, in fact we could have had a picnic sat in the middle. There was nothing.
Just as we entered the village there was another golf course but it was closed up. The village was quiet. In fact just us. We walked into the centre of the village and noticed what a lovely village it was. One of those charming, Hovis type villages but without the hill and delivery boy.

We sat outside the Blue Bell Hotel and the Black Swan Inn and saw no one. It was what we imagined the plague must have been like all those years ago. Curtains twitching, the odd dog barking. We sat there a little mesmerised at what the future would hold. Scary stuff.

A corvidae visitor.

We decided that enough was enough. If you start getting stared at and nobody wants to talk to you. The shops are closed, the tourist spots are closed, the pubs are closed, what were we doing here.
We slept on it and then decided to abort the walk and go home. It was a real shame as we had a spell of fantastic weather for the East coast. But! We can come day. Hopefully.

Our route today.

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Northumberland Coast Path Pt. 5

Beadnell Bay to Bamburgh. Day.5.  18th March 2020.

Beadnell Bay seems to be doubling in size. Maybe the local council is rubbing its hands at all the new council tax it will be getting.

The caravan park is huge too and we walked through it yesterday. It was a depressing walk and unless you needed to fill a water bottle I would give it a miss.

We noticed that the car park attendant was extremely efficient and going off the smile on his face he loved his job. But, we have always said that if you park knowingly flouting the rules then there is nobody to blame but yourself. If everyone parked correctly we would put these guys out of a job, but I don't think that will happen soon.

We stopped on the outskirts of the town at a small store and bought a few goodies.
We noticed across the road from the store an Art Deco property. And very nice too.

This part of the coast path is a bit monotonous, a road walk into Seahouses before hitting the coast again near Sunderland Point.
Incoming tide at Sunderland Point.
The Harbour

Seahouses is a large sprawling town with loads of Caravan Parks. It has everything you need, from shops, entertainment and transport. It also has a way out. 
The path is rather odd as it heads back inland behind Seahouses before turning north across agricultural land and dunes heading for Bamburgh. 
We didn't follow the path, but headed for the beach. I should really stop saying we headed for the beach because we have done that every day. The beach is so much more pleasant and as long as you watch the tides its a far better experience.
Sanderling at Islestones
We went up to the Castle attendant and asked if they were open as now most of the tourista spots were closed due to the Corona virus. The castle was open as normal. Privately owned you see. 
As it was now mid afternoon we decided we would have a day off tomorrow and visit the castle. £11.75 each to get in.

As it happens, we never did go in the castle. All will be reviewed in the next post.
Sorry, no tractors today and not many pictures.

Northumberland Coast Path Pt.4

Dunstanburgh Links to Beadnell Bay. Day. 4. 17th March 2020

Another fine day, but with the usual strong wind. And yet again another golf course adjacent to the castle had to be negotiated to avoid being struck by golf balls..

This stretch of coastline seems to have had its fair share of Second World War pillboxes and large gun emplacements. They can be found every few hundred yards along the dune line. Some are probably buried by the dunes now.

The walk along the beach is again a delight. So many birds to watch. Redshanks, Greenshanks, Plovers, Curlew, Sandpipers, Oyster Catchers, Sanderlings, Terns, Fulmars. Eider Ducks, Widgeon, and more. We saw lots of twitchers with large telescopic lenses.

After a couple of Km up the sweeping Embleton Bay, we came to the Embleton Burn which we had to cross. It wasn't particularly difficult and I would have crossed it but Sheila only had trainers on and didn't fancy the chance that  the bottom might be very soft. There was a small bridge not too far away so it was no big deal.

Across the bridge, you have the choice of carrying on along the beach into another vast sweeping bay, Newton Haven. The beach is fantastic with great views back towards Dunstanburgh Castle. It becomes obvious why they built the castle at that promontory. You can see everything for miles around.

View of the castle from the Burn.
 No Comment.

Almost hidden Pillbox.
 Heading North to Low Newton.

The Ship Inn at Low Newton where I believe it does fantastic food and has a micro brewery.
We didn't go in as it was just starting to rain and we wanted to keep going. Next time maybe.

In front of us was the mast and the map showed the path to skirt to its right. We took the wrong one initially and headed for Newton Point. Soon rectified. In 15 minutes we realised that it wouldn't have made any difference if we had stuck close to the shore as there is a path which is not marked on the OS map. More than likely a regular local dog walkers path.

We passed a few folk coming the other way and once through Newton Links Carpark we again had the choice of dunes or beach. The beaches are too lovely not to walk them so it was an easy choice.
Hardly a soul around but it was so windy. Glad to have extra layers with us.

The waves crashed and at one point I got wet feet by not taking enough notice. The sound of the sea today was wonderful. Great to be alive.
We had another river to cross, but this time we had no choice, it was too wide and too deep. We had to use the bridge. The weather was looking like we were in for a spot of rain and yes we had a downpour.

Leaving Low Newton
Communications mast and very posh water trough.
Great waves.
Beadnell in the background during a rainy spell.

 Bridge over the Burn.
Tughall Burn. 
On the other side of the bridge, the route leaves the beach and heads slightly inland. It goes through a depressing looking caravan park. One of those parks where very inch of space has been costed to the penny and the caravans are so close to each other. Many old vans too. We walked the beach into Beadnell but checked out the caravan park as well.
Approaching Beadnall Bay.
 Lime Kilns at Beadnall. Built by Richard Pringle in 1798. According to the information board they did really well supplying lime all over the country until the industry finally collapsed.

An then we came across this tractor below. I have only ever seen one of these before and it was in Greece.
It's a Belarus 510, made in Minsk Russia. Very similar in a lot of ways to the Zeter tractors.
These were considered years ago as the poor mans machine. 
Built in the 1950's.
I remember reading a story years ago that a company in Pakistan had starting making these from kits under licence. But they never had a licence so the "what's it" hit the fan. 

Belarus Tractor

 In the 21st Century Belarus tractors are regarded a bit better. Still not huge in the UK but are big in Asia and parts of Europe. Their only distributor in the UK is in Yorkshire, Liversage so google tells me. (I couldn't remember where it was). Today they use a lot of Caterpillar parts and build some huge machines. This image below is off the internet, I have never seen one but I thought some people would be interested to see how far the company has evolved.
Belarus 5022 brute of a machine.

And a not so rare machine. As it says an International 956xl 95hp. Built by Case in Germany between 1985 and '92.

 Todays route.

Find it Here