Under & Over the Tyne Amended
Tue 22nd December 2015
Sunday 20th December 2015
It was planned, intended and initially advertised, that this walk was to take place in December 2014 having been scheduled in the November 2013 planning session! It has proved impossible to do owing to the failure of two separate companies’ involved in the refurbishment of the Tyne Pedestrian Tunnel. The intended, and relatively short-term closure, has now become a very much longer-term closure as the contract is put out to tender for a third time! As a consequence the route was altered several months ago to provide a walk in the same locality. Plan B was “Both Sides of the Tyne” based on walking both of the Tyne Piers linked by the Shields Ferry and incorporating the North Shields Heritage Trail and an outline of the little known former Tyne Whaling Trade. Suffice it to say that pre-arranged checks early on Sunday morning revealed that the Port of Tyne were not going to open either pier at all on Sunday 20th December due to high forecast wind speeds e.g. gusts of 45 mph on the piers between 11.00 and 13.00 hours. Plan C, the final back-stop, was to walk south of the Tyne as far as Marsden Bay and Grotto which is what we eventually did.
The bonus was the blue sky for most of the day, if a little wet and definitely breezy. However, even the “wet bits” provided us with quite frequent rainbows out over the sea - but nothing to rival the brilliantly coloured examples we’d seen only last month walking north towards Alnmouth. We started rather damp and ended similarly but were lucky enough to stay dry for most of the time between. Despite the unseasonably mild temperatures everyone appreciated the warmth of the heating on the Shields Ferry. We began the walk wearing over-trousers and they did keep the wind off and add another layer of insulation so not all bad. The real pleasure of the day was the company and companionship of everyone present. The walk wasn’t in any way technical or demanding being easy underfoot and gave more opportunity than usual to just chat as we progressed. Four of us had completed this very route at the end of January 2013 (apologies to Conrad, Marian and Ian). What an odd coincidence. This walk is to my last walk on Jon’s Shepherds Walks programme and it will be the only time that I have repeated a walk other than by prior arrangement with specialist groups or private parties, serendipity strikes again!
Going south before lunch we managed to remain protected from the wind but once up on the grassland of The Leys were fully exposed to the wind. Despite that it certainly wasn’t either as strong or gusty as forecast. We looked back towards the Tyne Piers which remained closed (Plan B) but at no time did we see any waves breaking over them – better safe than sorry I suppose. A civilised lunch was taken on picnic benches below the cliff outside of the Marsden Grotto pub where everyone was protected from the wind. Some people, obviously including Ian, took the opportunity to supplement their lunch box. Malcolm was quietly munching his salad when Ian casually mention that it might go well with his chips, subtle! The homeward journey was uneventful and direct with lots of banter.
For my part I will really miss the opportunity to plan and carry out day walks in the plethora of wonderful Northumbrian landscapes and elsewhere. What I will miss even more is the contact with, and friendship of, everyone who comes on the walks. The “Regulars” know who they are and I hope that we remain in contact in the future. My very special thanks and appreciation go to Ian for more than I can possibly say, a true friend. I have thoroughly enjoyed the last few years, thank you all and very best wishes to everyone.
Happy Christmas and a Happy New 2016.
Richard, Ian and Malcolm