Total Pageviews

Saturday, 30 June 2012

Walk 71          Newbiggin by the Sea to Amble (Northumberland)

 (First leg of English coastal walk – Broadstairs in Kent to Berwick at the border with Scotland).

Map: L/R 81
Distance: about 20 km or 13 miles
Difficulty:  Fairly easy
Terrain: footpaths, pavement and sand
Access: Parking at both ends
Public transport: Buses from Ashington to New Biggin and Amble. Connections to Newcastle from Ashington.

Start the walk near Spital Point to the south of New Biggin by the Sea. Shipping and fishing can be traced back to the 14th century here. Coal mining was responsible for its expansion in recent times and before that it was a major port for grain.  

You might be forgiven for thinking there are two people standing on a platform looking out to sea. In fact this is a really striking sculpture called 'Couple on the Rocks' – there is a smaller version near the promenade. The sculpture was erected in 2007 and is the work of Sean Henry – it was the first permanent offshore UK sculpture.

Further along the promenade is The Cable House. In 1868 the first telegraph cable from Scandinavia came ashore at this point. The nearby lifeboat station owes its origin to a tragedy in 1851 when ten fishermen lost their lives. In the town look out for The Creswell Arms which proclaims that it is the last pub before Norway.

To the north of New Biggin and overlooking the sea is St Bartholomew’s Church. A church has been on this site since 1174. It was expanded in the 14th century and there is a mix of architectural styles marking its development. In front of the church on the sea side is a rock structure which was placed at this spot in 2000. A plaque explains that mementos of 20th century life are buried underneath including poems, pictures and writing created by local children. Look out for the decorative post near the church.

The path cuts across the golf course. Beware – the path is virtually unmarked and I had to ask several locals to show me the way, it included a dodgy walk across the fairway and several dead ends. Eventually I found a way but it didn’t bear much relation to the path on the map. I felt on much surer ground when reaching Lynemouth Power Station – a significant landmark from some distance away. This was opened in 1972 and was one of the last coal powered power stations to be built. It took coal from the Ellington and Lynemouth collieries which closed in 2005 due to a flood of imports. It may be converted to biomass as fuel in the future.

At Cresswell the path goes alongside wide sand beaches for a few miles. This area is popular with bird watchers. Many tales are associated with Cresswell including those connected with witchcraft – this is backed up by the fact that 23 witches were executed in the area. One tale tells of a tailor in 1752 who was tempted by the devil with the sin of pride and when a local vicar intervened the devil was said to vanish in a ball of fire.

The walk continues alongside Druridge Bay where over a million tons of sand has been removed for use in the building trade. This has contributed to the erosion of the coast. Nature reserves including Ladyburn Lake are on the land side of the walk.

Nearer Amble is a very good view of Croquet Island. This was once occupied by the Romans and until the 16th century was a refuge for hermits and monks. The island is now owned by the Duke of Northumberland and managed by the RSPB as a bird reserve and seabird colony. 18000 pairs of puffins were found nesting here in 2002. The remaining structure of the medieval monastery has been incorporated into the 19th century (now automatic) lighthouse and cottages. Landing on the island is prohibited to the general public.

Low Hauxley is just to the south of Amble. There is evidence of people living here since 6500 BC. The current village was built in the second half of the 19th century to house fishermen; they caught white fish in the winter and salmon in the summer alongside crabs and lobsters. The coastline here has treacherous rocks and as a result a much needed lifeboat station was built by the Duke of Northumberland in 1861. Unfortunately, there were still many losses, for example 5 boats were lost within 4 hours in 1872. A decline in fishing saw the lifeboat station close in 1939 and the last fishing coble (boat) left in the 1950s.

Pictures show: St Bartholomews Church, New Biggin; Couple on the Rocks sculpture and New Biggin Bay; Croquet Island.  

No comments:

Post a Comment