Jo’s Monday walk : Seaton Sluice

The harbour at Seaton Sluice

The harbour at Seaton Sluice

Seaton Sluice isn’t the most inviting place name I ever came across.  Yet I knew from a previous expedition to nearby Seaton Delaval Hall that it provides an interesting gateway to the sea.  A bright and free day took me back up the north east coast to explore.

Seaton Burn flows into the North Sea midway between Whitley Bay and Blyth.  Place names are interesting, aren’t they?  Seaton Sluice was once part of the village of Hartley, and was called Hartley Pans because of the salt pans, where salt was panned as far back as 1236. The area once belonged to Tynemouth Priory, but in 1100 the land became the property of Hubert de Laval, nephew by marriage to William the Conqueror.  The Delavals, as they became known, settled about half a mile inland at Seaton Delaval Hall.  Seaton derives from Old English and means a settlement (‘ton’) by the sea.  Let’s go look around, and I’ll explain a little more.

The approach to the sea

The approach to the sea

At low tide, the area fails to look its best, but there was excitement to come.  First, a little more history.  Up until 1550, the salt produced at Hartley Pans was transported to Blyth for export. After this it was shipped directly from the small natural harbour, and the village, now known as Hartley Haven, was used to export coal as well as salt.

The little harbour was prone to silting and this limited access by ships, but in the 1600s Sir Ralph Delaval had a pier constructed, and sluice gates which trapped the seawater at high tide.  Hence the name, Seaton Sluice.  At low tide, the gates were opened, flushing the sand from the harbour.

The harbour remained like this until the 1760s when another Delaval, Sir John, had ‘The Cut’ blasted through solid rock to make a new harbour entrance.  54ft deep, 30ft wide and 900ft long, the result created an island of the land between the old entrance and the new channel. Enterprising men these Delavals.   The new channel could be sealed off at both ends so that boats could carry on loading, irrespective of the tide.  For me, the excitement begins when the channel meets the sea.

This sight had me skipping with excitement!

This sight had me skipping with excitement!

How beautiful is this?

How beautiful is this?

I’m on the southern edge of Northumberland here, and if you know anything at all about Northumberland you’ll know it has magnificent beaches.  In the distance you can see Blyth and an offshore wind farm.  Next year there will be a Tall Ships Race too.

I'm happy just to gaze

I’m happy just to gaze

Salt continued to be exported from Seaton Sluice until the advent of a new salt tax in 1798.  It was replaced by a new export, glass bottles.  In 1763 Sir Francis Delaval obtained approval from Parliament to develop a glassworks.  Skilled men were brought from Germany to train the locals in glass making, using the materials to hand- sand and kelp from the sea, and local coal and clay. The bottles were sent to London on ‘bottle sloops’, with a main mast that could be lowered to enable sailing beneath the arches of old London Bridge.

Hard, now, to believe that such industry once took place.  Competition from other glassmakers brought the bottle trade to an end, and a major disaster at Hartley pit, in which 204 men and boys perished, spelled the end of the coal trade.

Crossing Seaton Sluice Bridge we can look back at the harbour

Crossing Seaton Sluice Bridge we can look back at the harbour

My adventure with the sea isn’t quite over yet though.  Following the other side of the channel I come to a narrow cut.  Looking south along the coast I am thrilled to find that in the far distance I can see St. Mary’s Lighthouse at Whitley Bay.  You might remember my post.

Can you see it, across the bay?

Can you see it, across the bay?

Quite a way off

Quite a way off

It's a wonderful coastline!

It’s such a wonderful coastline!

I follow the coastal path back into the village.  Looking down at the rocks I’m astounded to find a heron, nonchalantly checking out the seafood.  I do hope he approves.

I returned to Seaton Delaval Hall that afternoon.  Very nice chocolate fudge cake!  I’ll share my visit when Paula returns from her holiday, but we might look at the garden before then.

Meantime I should thank Wikipedia for all their information, and you for sharing it with me.

walking logo

Kettle’s on and I just have time to tell you that I have lots more wonderful walks to share this week before it boils.  Details of how to join in are on my Jo’s Monday walk page.  A click on the logo should do it.  Thanks to all of you, old friends and new.  Bring on the walks!

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Violet Sky was first to share this week, with such a good-looking lighthouse, too!

Cabot Head

And Anabel is going for broke- 3 for the price of 1!!!

Cairnpapple Hill

Exotic Wats and stupas all the way from Thailand, with Junk Boat Travels :

Wat Yai Chai Mongkol

And Jesh has me wanting a goat’s life in Zion National Park!

Utah’s Colours

Quite a few wild orchids down Eastbourne way.  Cheers, Geoff!

Eastbourne to Birling Gap and back

Can’t you almost feel the rain dripping down your neck with Ruth?

A walk in the rainforest

Jude is taking me to unknown parts of Cornwall this week.  Please bring a walking pole for safety!

Down the Cot Valley

Drake is dallying by the water (in his element).  A peaceful and idyllic place to be :

Out of Town 

Keeping an eye out for bears seems a good idea when you’re in the woods!  Please say ‘hi’ to Woman’s Eye View :

Humbled again

Gilly has a lovely new look!  Have you seen it yet?

Strolling the garden in the wood

And a beautiful garden sequel.  Don’t miss it!  Even the title is beautiful!

Falling for a silver pear at Knightshayes

Pauline’s gone all modern and high rise on us.  Come and look (if you’ve a head for heights)!

On top of the world

And take a peak at what’s in store for the future :

Browsing in Brunswick Heads

That’s it for another week!  Hope you can join me next Monday.  In the meantime you could do worse than pop in to Monday Escapes.  Happy walking!

148 comments

    1. Oh dear, Lisa- the rain is bouncing here this morning! I think it might look a little bedraggled 😦 We’ve not had much rain so I suppose it must be our turn. Good job I can go virtual walking 🙂 Thanks for your lovely company!

  1. Hi Jo just catching up on blog reading – seems to have been a busy week! What a fascinating history lesson I’ve very much enjoyed reading it all! I hadn’t heard of Seaton Sluice before though sadly the Hartley Pit disaster rings a bell. Your photos are stunning – such a beautiful place especially where the sluice opens out to sea. I love the whitewashed cottages too – they really fit in with the wild landscape. It looks a bit “nordic” here – perhaps the Viking influence? Great photo of the solitary heron too. Hope you’ve had a good week and weekend and will catch up on some more reading later today! 🙂

    1. Hi Rosemay 🙂 Some weeks just slide past, don’t they, and here I am poised to write this week’s walk! Which is back down in Yorkshire. We are blessed with beautiful countryside and coast, aren’t we? Enjoy your weekend too 🙂

      1. Look forward to reading your Yorkshire post tomorrow – yes the coastline is very beautiful round there. My dad had a day out with my brother to Whitby this week so he was very happy! 😃

  2. What an interesting history went along with this weeks walk Jo, those Delavals were entrepreneurs and could see the opportunities and make the most of them. What a beautiful and wild looking coast I would love walking along that long, and I imagine, windswept beach. Thank you for the link to my 2 walks last week but this week it is raining and I am catching up on in door “stuff” The garden is really loving this warm rain. I can see everything madly growing (including the weeds!!!)

    1. I probably should have split your walks between two weeks, Pauline (as you suggested- you must have known the rain was coming 🙂 ) But I had 2 from Gilly as well so I didn’t think it mattered. I’m just happy to showcase your work. 🙂
      Something I’ve been going to ask for a week or 2- I think you said somewhere that you live in a small, easy to clean, apartment? I must have misunderstood, because how could you have your lovely garden? Anyway, thanks for your company, darlin’. I’m off to finish a post on the Hall’s garden. 🙂

      1. I think I have the best of both worlds Jo as we own a 2 story house surrounded by our garden and we rent the 3 bedroom top part to friends and we live in the very small granny flat down below, totally self contained. So we can come and go on our journeys and our friends maintain the garden when we go away and I take over again when we are home. We call it “our commune”!!! This is the first time we have been home for winter and spring in 5 years. We usually come home over Christmas then take off again. But I think we are slowing down….

      2. Sounds like a brilliant arrangement! I must have read this somewhere before, but you know what old age is like, Pauline… so forgetful! 🙂 🙂

      1. I wasn’t warm the whole week! Yes, journey OK, although two of our possible routes to and from the airport were blocked with piles of oosh and old tyres,
        put there by disgruntled (rightly) farmers, protesting about the poor prices for milk.

  3. A fabulous walk Jo! With just the right amount of backstories to keep us hooked. The name might be underwhelming but those glorious views more than make up for it.

    1. This was a good place to start, Madhu 🙂 I’m hoping all’s right with your world again? You’ve cut back on posting a lot but maybe that’s a good way to go. I think a rethink/refocus is needed on here but life keeps getting in the way 🙂

      1. I really have Jo. All well, but too many loose ends to tie up running upto our forthcoming trip to Spain. Looking forward to revert to a more regular schedule on my return.

    1. Yes, there are some good places to live, for sure. This area is a bit of a commuter zone for Newcastle-on-Tyne. Maybe best of both worlds 🙂 Thanks a lot!

  4. Beautiful indeed 🙂 Ahh…thank you for this rejuvinating walk by the sea Jo, I feel much better now. And yes, I can see the lighthouse! Hope you’re having a good week…hugs 🙂 xx

  5. You should not have mentioned Wikipedia Jo because I thought you were an expert on the area. You give a concise summery with photos of the area bringing all the wonder of it alive for us. That is what I like so much about the walks you take us with you on.

    1. I learn a lot along the way, too, Jack (and then forget half of it, the memory being what it is, but half’s better than nothing, isn’t it? 🙂 ) I have such great company. How can I fail? 🙂

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