The Northumberland Coast AONB Partnership has once more offered the chance to walk the Northumberland Coast Path this summer and here is the sixth and final section of the blog.
Last Wednesday saw the final stage of our guided walks along the Northumberland Coast Path.
Our start time at Fenwick Bridge, alongside the A1, once again coincided with the arrival of the buses from both north and south.
A quick headcount – 20 people and two canines: Jasper was joined by Woody, a Border terrier who was on holiday in Northumberland for the week. Used to marathon training, we were reassured his small legs would make the 12 miles to Berwick with no difficulty.
The path begins by taking us east towards Fenwick Granary on the route of St Cuthbert’s Way. Turning off the road, we headed along the footpath and up the hill to be rewarded with a magnificent view of Bamburgh Castle, the Farne Islands and Lindisfarne – breathtaking in the sunshine. The path continues east, down towards the railway line, which we all crossed safely thanks to Iain ringing the signalman to let him know we were there, and then onwards to the causeway at Holy Island.
Only we didn’t quite go the way we were supposed to! Too busy in conversation, we missed the footpath turning. However, it was easily rectified as we weren’t too far off course. We continued on the track we’d taken, which brought us out by the cycle-track and then down towards the start of the causeway.
After a quick group photo, which we’d forgotten to take at the beginning of the walk, we set off through the Lindisfarne National Nature Reserve for Beal Point. There was plenty of opportunity to use the binoculars along the stretch – the most impressive sight being an osprey perched on one of the poles. We also saw whimbrels and little egrets as we walked alongside the South Low (rhymes with cow). The path crosses the sluice gate, over the flood-bank and onto the footpath through the dunes, stopping to admire some impressive parasol mushrooms.
From here, the route becomes quite simple – keep the sea on your right and you can’t go wrong. The path through the dunes is well worn and used; we passed several friendly cyclists and walkers heading south as we made our way to Goswick Golf Course and the promise of refreshments at the clubhouse.
The club is always pleased to welcome walkers; we were able to buy drinks, get our passports stamped and use their facilities before making our way towards the beach for a bite to eat.
The official line of the Coast Path takes a more inland route north of the clubhouse, but a walk along the beach is a good alternative if the tide is out, which it was, and having been inland for the past two stages, we were missing it so opted to walk closer to the sea. It was a bracing walk along Goswick and Cheswick Sands. We dodged jellyfish and watched sanderling dancing on the shore. The car park at Cocklawburn marked the end of our beach walk and we rejoined the road behind the dunes.
Dark skies were looming overhead and it looked like we were about to get wet. Thankfully, it was short-lived and the raincoats were made redundant, but kept close at hand. Tom Cadwallender, who was acting as back-marker for us once again, was able to tell us about the industrial history of the area and point out some of the amazing geology.
Our group was feeling a little despondent as it was the last of the Wednesday walks. However, their talk soon turned to organising a walk for the following week and throughout the autumn too. One of the reasons for hosting these walks is to inspire people to get out and explore the countryside, so Iain and I were pleased we’d achieved one of our aims, even if we are unable to join them.
We left the track as we approached Spittal to walk along the promenade. Since the 18th century, Spittal has been known as a holiday resort when visitors were keen to bathe in the sea and drink from the spa well. The views across the sea, of the lighthouse and of Berwick town across the mouth of the Tweed were spectacular, but several binoculars were trained the other way, as a merlin had been spotted, which caused a flurry of excitement as it’s quite a rare sight.
Berwick was now tantalisingly close, but the end of the walk was still another mile or so away. As we approached the estuary, we followed the road around to pick up the path alongside the river and port to reach the old bridge across the River Tweed. And just in time too, as the rain was close behind. The anchor on the quayside marks the official end of the Coast Path, so after the obligatory photo, we darted through the Quay Walls to the Curfew micropub to get our passports stamped and our reward of a free half-pint of beer for finishing each stage.
Although, from what I hear, that half may have turned into several pints. Mentioning no names – Tom, Dawn, Margaret, Lynn – oops!
Until next time.