The Vault Regulars

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.

Monday, March 30, 2020

Northumberland Coast Path Pt. 3.

Boulmer to Dunstanburgh Castle. Day 3.  16th March 2020.

Sorry to be leaving Boulmer but looking forward to what today has to offer. It looks great on the map.
A good track leaves the tarmac and the grass is manicured. Notices point out all the usual things. No Parking, No Fires, No Camping etc

What has been very noticeable so far, is that the Coast path is well used, well publicised but i'm not sure the community actually wants you there. There is very little opportunity to legally camp. So many of the myriad of caravan parks don't allow overnight camping or any camping for that matter and getting to campsites that will allow you to pitch are far from the path. Illegal camping does take place in the dunes but you have to pick your spot carefully as the tide rises fast and right up to the dunes. I don't understand the mentality of not allowing backpackers.

The walk is beautiful and then you turn a corner, cross a stream and your faced with Howdiemont sands and further on Sugar Sands. Both absolutely idillic. The locals don't want it to become well know. It's their bit of heaven. We lingered here a while just taking in the view.

Again we hit the beach rather than staying high on the official path which goes through the dunes and the beach car park.

Stunning Howdiemont Bay above Sugar Sands
From the beach we headed up to the path proper and followed it to crossing the Howick Burn by a solidly built bridge for such a small stream.

Howick Burn Bridge.
 Just managed to sort the camera out in time to take this plane shot.

 Still on a good path we passed some small intriguing rocky coves and Rumbling Kern before passing Seahouses Farm on the right and then the grand holiday let on the right called The Bathing House . As it happened walking enthusiast and photographer Andrew Locking from Cumbria was staying here when we passed, but we didn't know that at the time.

The Bathing House holiday let.
Between the Bathing House and Craster the path is good and high. Numerous cliff faces are passed with hundreds of birds nesting. We met a few dog walkers along this stretch all very chatty.

 Fulmers Nesting.

 Approaching Craster with a view of Dunstanburgh Castle.

We were glad to reach Craster, I was starving. Sheila decided to try a Craster Kipper barm cake. She had never had one before. I did try a bit but I usually get indigestion from them.
The pub was in a grand position with large balcony overlooking the bay. I bet its packed in the summer, the path goes through the grounds.

Plenty of people were milling around the harbour. We found a bench and had a late lunch. I noticed at the side of the harbour garage, a familiar machine. An MF 30 E tractor loader made where I worked in Stretford. I forgot to get the serial number because I could have had a hand in its construction.

Sheila must of wondered where I had got to as I was missing for about 10 minutes checking this machine out.
Now back to the walk.

 An arty view of the castle from the harbour. (I couldn't get everything level).
Craster Harbour with darkening skies.

The sign in Craster said that the castle was closed. So we walked up to it and around it up to the point where the sheer drop of the east side puts a halt to progress.
We saw quite a bit of it and to be honest I wouldn't pay the asking price to go inside if it had been open.
Beyond the castle is the golf links where we stopped for the day and returned to base.

The ruins of Dunstanburgh Castle.
English Heritage would make more money keeping it open during daylight hours and just putting a donation box at the gate. Its not in a fantastic state anyway and not worth the money in my opinion.

Todays route.

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Northumberland Coast Path. Boulmer tractors.

Boulmer. Start Day 3. Tractors only.

Boulmer, pronounced Boomer. Turned out to be a good stopping point. The pub was good, lively, friendly. The locals support the pub and with it being an agricultural area, the subject of tractors came up in conversation.
Sheila and I were invited to sit with a few of them and we chatted late into the evening.
The landlord even bought us both a beer. Very kind. We will return there when all this virus trouble is over.

It turned out we were in tractor heaven. There were many and one which you don't see too often.

A Fordson Super Major 2 wheel drive. built between 1961 and 64.

 Ford TW-20. 4 wheel drive. 1979-83. A bigger tractor than it looks at 150hp.

 And the gem. A Muir Hill, beast of a machine, not seen too often. Made in Old Trafford Manchester between 1972-83. Pity it wasn't a 141 model as I've never seen one. The company used to make narrow gauge trains prior to tractors.

 Renault 175-74. 4 wheel drive. Built 1989 to 72. 160hp. Powerful machine.

Massey Ferguson 7720 tractor. 185hp. 4 wheel drive. Built in AGCO plant in Beauvais France. A plant that I know very well. This belongs to a farmer I was talking to last night.

Now to get on with the walk.

Northumberland Coast Path. Pt.2

Alnmouth to Boulmer.  Day 2. 15th March 2020.

NCP - The bridge across the River Aln. 


After yesterdays glorious weather we were pleased that todays weather was similar. It was clear skies, bright, but hellishly windy and cold. That cold that cuts you in half. We had quite a few layers on.

Alnmouth was quiet but parking here is very limited. The chances of parking in the town are almost nil but there is some parking along the beach just off the golf course.

Walking around Alnmouth is worth doing and it won't take long. Lots of historic buildings. At this time of year there wasn't much open anywhere except a few coffee shops so we had to give one a try. The Old Bakery, they had gunpowder green tea so a pot of that was had and an extremely large tea cake which we shared.
Alnmouth Village.

We came across what must be the smallest museum in UK. The Old Ferryman's hut. Lots of memorabilia and photographs of when the ferry took people across the Aln river.

The ferry which rowed 6 people max across the river stopped in the 1960's when John Brown retired. 
His hut now a museum.

Alnmouth golf club invites non members into the cafe for refreshments and from there you can pick up the coast path.
Again, as yesterday, there is the official path or the beach plod. Today is was a bit of both. The middle section of todays walk is effected by the tide so a quick look at the tide times before setting off can be advantageous and save a back track.

The golf course section is quite hilly and I guess these players are fit guys. We chose the beach again but at times we did have to go through the course.

On the beach it got very windy so it was good to find shelter at times within the dunes. The golf course had loads of signs up which were not welcoming unlike the signs at the club house where you were spending money.
Plenty of people out today, guided walking groups and loads of dog walkers.

 Working our way around the bunkers. 
 Along the way there are numerous caravan parks and although most were closed the outside water taps were still working. Very helpful on a warm day or a backpack.
 Beach Art
 A less windy spot for lunch
 Common Ringed Plover
On the approach to Boulmer the tide in the Haven was out and a couple of boats were grounded. Fishermen were digging for bait. Boulmer is the home to an RAF base and has an inshore lifeboat station manned by volunteers.
Boulmer is a small village but in the summer its numbers swell with the caravan park and numerous holiday cottages. The one pub, The Fisherboat Inn is a friendly place with good beer and great food. An overnight stay at the pub is a bit on the expensive side though.
We had our first base in the village.

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