Hadrian's Wall, part 2
Mon 21st February 2011
Segedunum to Newburn. Guided Walk date - Sunday 20th February 2011
What a difference walking from east to west makes. We saw all sorts of things that walking the opposite way some of us had never seen e.g. the Newcastle skyline from St Anthony’s Point including the Civic Centre, the seven bridges from St Lawrence’s near the Ouseburn redevelopment, even approaching the Baltic and the Sage from an unfamiliar angle made it a wholly different experience. From now on I shall be encouraging participants to turn round and view where we have come from more often.
The grey overcast didn’t change all day but we didn’t get wet and at least the chill south-east wind was behind us all day, not bad for a late February day especially as a few of our number were prevented from getting out and about yesterday with the slushy wet snowfall in the uplands.
There were quite a lot of cyclists out on the initial section between Segedunum and the Walker Riverside Park but after that it was relatively quiet going as from here the cycle route diverges from the Hadrian’s Wall Path. We lunched overlooking St Peter’s Basin with an explanation of the significance of a boat moored there called “The Three Amigos” which relates to a previous walking group on this route - you had to be there to appreciate it.
Onwards to The Baltic, our only crossing of the river of the day for a quick drink and comfort stop before negotiating the quayside market and the seven bridges each with their own particular stories to tell. The rafts of debris on the incoming tide populated by seabirds kept us amused as far as Dunston’s coal staithes, a section had been destroyed by fire since my last walk on this route. Looking south beyond the staithes we could easily pick out the tall block of flats (The Rocket) that was adjacent to the site of the Gateshead Garden Festival which none of us could remember the date of (it was 1990 according to the internet). Was it “only” 20 years ago?
The Metro Centre was passed at a safe distance i.e. on the other side of the river as we passed the British Airways call centre on the redeveloped Newcastle Business Park. There were some rye comments about how few people were working there and no wonder we couldn’t get through by phone to make reservations. We walked out onto the Scotswood Road which, in the days of Lord Armstrong’s Elswick Works boasted no fewer than 44 public houses. Crossing the road we entered Paradise near the start of the Vicker’s tank factory, well that is what the map said anyway. Unfortunately the visibility was too poor to look back and see the Angel of the North, it is the only place it can be seen from along this route. We walked along a former rail track with lots of redevelopment being carried out beyond new fences to our north before looping around and over the A1 via a footbridge linking Denton Dene to Bell’s Close prior to the final run into Newburn via the southern edge of Lemington. We had mentioned the catastrophic floods along the lower Tyne in 1771 earlier because it resulted in the collapse of so many bridges downstream of Hexham but seeing the flood level marker outside the pub by Newburn Bridge certainly made an impression. The last leg was literally alongside the river to the memorial of the Battle of Newburn 1640 where the first fording point on the River Tyne made it a natural choice for raiding parties from Scotland, they won that one.
That completes the second day of the series of one-day westbound walks along the Hadrian’s Wall Path. From now onwards it is mainly rural, except for passing through Carlisle, but that is for the future, the aim is to reach Bowness – on – Solway, the official end of the walk, in the autumn.