Bamburgh and Budle Bay
Mon 2nd December 2013
Bamburgh and Budle Bay guided walk
Sunday 1st December 2013
I’ve have never had a December Shepherds Walk like this one. The weather was superb, calm, clear blue anticyclonic skies all day and almost no wind made the experience delightful, and it goes without saying, all who attended.
The fact that we started the walk with eighteen people and ended it with sixteen due to a twisted knee earlier in the week was the only negative note. Hopefully our efforts to assist with this turned even that disappointment into a positive. By getting as far as Lonsdales Hill at the edge of the golf course to be picked-up by car the individual concerned, hereinafter referred to as “The Knee” enjoyed the most scenic section of the walk and had a picnic lunch in the sun on the dunes overlooking Budle Bay at high tide. Incidentally, wearing my Mountain Rescue hat it is worth recommending the value of carrying a pair of walking poles (even if you prefer not to use them) just in case of minor lower limb injuries, it can make the difference between a painful hobble and more secure, steady and comfortable progress – “comfortable” being a relative term of course.
It was nice to see the regulars again, sorry that I couldn’t be with you for the November walk last month above the Glen Valley. Similarly it was just as enjoyable to meet some new faces who didn’t know what they were in for; the light hearted banter while everyone was getting ready in the car park was a clue! As the whole route was only approximately 8 miles (13 kilometres) long and the weather so favourable we were able to have a very relaxed walk – we were still approaching the lighthouse at Blackrocks Point after an hour and it is only 1.25 kilometres for the car park in a straight-line. On the way we’d mentioned the iconic castle, the prevailing weather and use of aircraft contrails in short-term weather forecasting, the intrusion of the Whin Sill, formation of sand dunes and wave-cut platforms etc - it’s a wonder I hadn’t put myself to sleep! Martyn, a well-known troublemaker who shall be nameless, missed a lot of the interpretation throughout the day because he was invariably not paying attention and must try harder in future. Ian and John, my carers for the day, were happily snapping away with their cameras (I do realise that it is much more technical than that gentlemen). The challenge had been set earlier by “The Guide” that he didn’t want to see any more “Boyhood of Raleigh” shots of him (or it, he’s usually an it) pointing into the middle and far distance, we shall see when the blog and photos are combined.
An early lunch was taken in the dunes west of Budle Point overlooking the bay as we hadn’t had time for elevenses. Clear sky, sunshine and no wind, lovely and an unexpected bonus for December 1st it really doesn’t get any better than this. Except that it does because Ian and I went to find a suitable way out of the dunes and up onto the golf course for “The Knee” so everyone had time to moan, grown and sympathise about the hopeless guide without causing offence. John didn’t mention anything about providing me with transcripts of those conversations at the end of the walk, he’s far too professional. The views we got of this iconic area north over Budle Bay towards Lindisfarne and towards the Lammermuir’s north of the Border inland were unexpectedly sharp and clear. Similarly the views south towards Dunstanburgh (the classic tourist board brochure publicity shot) and out towards the sun-drenched Farne Islands archipelago where as good and anyone could expect at any time of the year. It was so bright that it was sometimes difficult to spot the flashes of the Longstone lighthouse. Following our picnic lunch we swung inland away from the coast to complete the country part of this walk. It involved walking initially south and then east along footpaths and bridleways down lanes and crossing fields that exemplified the mixed farming nature of the North Northumberland Coast Plain. As we left Ingram Lane a large cloud-bank of altostratus blanked out the rapidly sinking sun and the whole aspect of the day altered and became noticeably chillier. As we walked north-west through the fields north of Fowberry towards Bamburgh the whole of the western sky was a brilliant orange-pink as the cloud was illuminated from below by the setting sun with just a narrow band of bright red sky beneath the clouds on the western horizon creating a silhouette of Cheviot and Hedgehope.
I have to say I was a little surprised that nobody took me up on the offer of a seminar on the landscape character, physical and cultural influences, buildings, settlement and land use of the area of our walk when we returned to the car park, perhaps next time? The next walk is very different and involves a coastal walk from North Shields Fish Quay (easy access and parking) north along the coast to St Mary’s Island. We will be passing several cafes en-route both at the Tynemouth and Whitley Bay ends so it will be civilised. Once we reach St Mary’s Island we will walk via Brier Dene Farm to the disused railway track between Whitley Bay and Blyth and follow it south to Monkseaton Metro Station for the ride back to North Shields.
Have a pleasant Christmas and New Year and I hope to see everyone again in January for the “I must lose some of this weight” (and feel virtuous) New Year’s Resolution exercise regime aided by the North Shields to St Mary’s Island Coffee and Tea Drinking Mini-Marathon.
Monday, 02 December 2013