The Vault Regulars

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Northumberland Coast Path Pt.1

The NCP is a medium distance coastal walk of some 100km. It officially starts in Cresswell and ends in Berwick-Upon-Tweed. Because it is a coastal path walk it's easy for folk, depending on time availability to tailor it as needed.

After an illness which has taken over our lives for a year, it was good to be making new ground.
We started in a place called Amble and finished in the village of Belford. The start was our choice but the premature end was due to the Covid 19 lockdown and our enforced return home.

We didn't backpack this trip we used a fixed base, well two fixed bases as it turned out. From these bases we planned routes which could be done with the help of public transport, our own car or just circular walks.

Walk 1. Amble to Alnmouth. March 14th 2020.

If ever there is a place not to start the NCP it has to be Amble. It's a sprawling place, old and forgotten. Remnants of past industry, especially coal can still be seen. It used to be a thriving port but now just a few fishing boats. From the harbour you can get trips to Coquet Island with its lighthouse.

We didn't get a good feeling as we walked through Amble with its small groups of youths smoking weed. The smell drifting around you. It makes me feel sick. We were constantly looking over our shoulders and were pretty pleased to get out of Dodge and onto the main road.
The modernised Harbour at Amble
The road and the path follows the River Coquet upstream as far as Warkworth where it leaves the river, crosses the medieval bridge and heads for the dunes.
Warkworth is a beautiful village and the first thing that pulls you there is the constant view of the Castle. The Castle was closed but we walked around the grounds.
Warkworth Castle
Walking down the hill into the centre, there are many fine houses, a couple of pubs and a few local shops. Lots of property is owned by Coquet holiday homes and that's why villages are dying.

The church of St. Lawrence was open so we had a look inside. It dates back to AD 737. King Ceowulf of Northumbria granted it to the monks of Lindisfarne.
The later Norman tower is leaning quite a bit, a bit like Pisa, and a later steeple has been added.
The leaning tower of Warkworth.
Passed the church reveals the pleasant riverside, well kept and a pleasure to stop on one of the many benches and have a brew. Its a popular spot for locals and visitors alike.
The good thing here to note was that the parking by the river was free and no time restrictions. However the point was made that no accommodation vehicles were aloud. A posh way of saying "no camper vans or caravans."

The medieval bridge is wonderful and so is its arched gate house.

 The River Coquet at Warkworth

We spent quite a bit of time in Warkworth and we wished we had time to stay over night and explore a bit more. Next time.

Across the main road the path leads to another car park, then down across a golf course and here you can decide if you want to keep to the official path or take to the beach. For us the best way is to go with the beach. The beach is expansive and has good views south to Coquet Island and our route ahead to the north.
Its always hard going walking on sand but the atmosphere of being in such a wide open landscape is breathtaking. The smells of the sea, the sound of the birds, it's just paradise.  And so lucky with the weather.

The coast at Warkworth.
The beach was quite empty and it wasn't until we started to approach Alnmouth that numbers of people started to increase. Between us and Alnmouth stands the River Aln. There was no quick way across it. The ferry finished years ago. We headed up to a religious cross we could see on a hillside to our left and decided to take a break with such lovely views.
The cross is well made and its dated AD 684. Not original obviously.

The word Cuthbert can just be made out with 684AD clear below. 
I guess this stone came from the church.

History says that at this point St. Cuthbert agreed to become Bishop of Lindisfarne when petitioned by the king.
To get over to Alnmouth we had to backtrack along a good bridleway until rejoining the official coast path along the road, over the bridge and into Alnmouth town.
St. Cuthbert's old church is still to be seen but roofless.

Our coast walk route in black. The official route is the red diamond linked line.


Sir Hugh said...

What a shame to have to abort. It gets better the further north you go. I did the whole thing back in 2016. I seemed to have nothing complimentary to say about Amle either:

"..then reasonable dune paths into Amble. A strange wooden pier-like walkway led to the harbour and town centre. There was a funfair blaring away, and a very busy Sunday market - people eating and queuing for ice creams everywhere. "

If and when we get back to this sort of thing again I hope you will go back and finish it off - it's worth it.

AlanR said...

Hi Conrad. It was gutting to abort. It had to be done though. The weather was lovely and as you say the scenery improves the further north you go. We sat there with one of our goals, Lindisfarne, across the bay, so close yet so far away.
But there are tractors to come............

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