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Monday, 6 August 2012

Walk 74 Seahouses to Belford (Northumberland)

Walk 74          Seahouses to Belford (Northumberland)

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

Map: L/R 75
Distance: about 10 miles or 16 km
Difficulty:  Mainly easy
Terrain: footpaths, pavement, cliff paths, sand
Access: Parking at both ends
Public transport: Bus 401, 411 from Alnwick to Craster, 501/505 Berwick/Alnwick/Belford Seahouses – check with Traveline.

The first part of the walk out of Seahouses is along the road. There is then a choice to continue along the road or to take a much more pleasant route along the beach to Bamburgh. This is possible when the tide does not come right up to the foreshore so it is worth checking the tide times first.

The Farne Islands can be spotted 2/3 miles offshore. It has the most famous bird sanctuary in the British Isles and has a large colony of grey seals. There are 28 islands of which 15 are visible at high tide. The islands are associated with St Aidan and St Cuthbert who used to stay here and meditate. Farne is also famous for the heroics of Grace Darling. She made headlines in 1838 when, at the age of 23, she helped her father (who was a lighthouse keeper on the islands) row out and rescue a number of men from the stricken steamer Forfarshire. Sadly she died from TB aged just 26. The lighthouse can be visited by boat and there are specialist trips to observe the wildlife. A museum in nearby Bamburgh is devoted to Grace Darling and provides interesting background to her story.

Bamburgh Castle is a significant landmark along this shore. There was a castle here originally built by King Ida of Northumberland but the present building was begun by Henry 1st. It has played its part in the tussles between England and Scotland and The Wars of the Roses. The walls of the castle form a 150 foot precipice. Most of the visible parts of the building were completed in the 18th and 19th centuries when it was used as a boarding school to train servant girls. In 1971 it was chosen as Macbeth’s stronghold in the film version of the play by Roman Polanski. The castle is now in private hands and is open to the public – well worth a visit.

The walk to Budle Bay can be a bit confusing at times as you are never quite sure whether you are on the path or the golf course. A lighthouse is nestled on Harkess Rocks.   

Follow St Oswald’s Way into Belford. This path links some of the places associated with St Oswald, King of Northumbria in the 7th century. He played a major part in bringing Christianity to the area.

The walk finishes at the old village of Belford.

Pictures show: beach walk between Seahouses and Bamburgh; looking south to Bamburgh Castle; Bamburgh village and castle; lighthouse at Harkess Rocks.

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