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!


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!


    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? 🙂

  6. Haha it is true that the name does not sound inviting, but the photos certainly are! I really like the colors of the wet sand where the channel mets the sea 🙂
    I haven’t published any walk since Christchurch but hopefully I’ll join with a new walk soon.
    Have a nice week!

  7. i agree about the name but what a amazing place it is! beautiful images of beach and the sea! lovely walk as always, Jo! thank you for sharing both awesome shots and history 🙂

    1. I didn’t know exactly what to expect when I went up that way, LolaWi, so it was a lovely surprise. I really loved that bit of coast. Thanks for joining me 🙂

    1. I was very pleasantly surprised when we started to look around. I’d only driven by on a rainy day previously. That beach was a revelation! Speaking of weather- I hope it’s being kind to you? The golf at St. Andrews was a bit of a disaster 😦

      1. It’s kind here at the moment, but I am still at home! I travel on Thursday, so good weather from then, for a week, would be nice although I have had a look at the forecast for the end of the week and it’s not looking promising. 😦

  8. I’m beginning to think I may be homesick for the sea. Your photos are wonderful, especially the first one where the channel meets the sea, with that beautifully placed clump of grass. The history is fascinating, and it sounds to me as if you’ve shaped Wikipedia nicely to your own voice.

    1. You can feel my heart leaping in that shot 🙂 I really hadn’t anticipated such a beautiful outlet to the sea, Meg. If life were only full of golden moments like that… But I’ve had my share in this past week or so. And I’ve tried to take you along with me. Thank you for making it all worthwhile. 🙂

  9. I really enjoyed the walk today, Jo. Really liked learning about the Sluice and the Delavals. The photos are terrific. It is not often one finds numerous boats completely stranded by the low tide like this, it makes for cool photos.

  10. I absolutely love the rich history of this place, Jo. Imagine all the stories people could tell from living there over the ages. I also love that house and could easily imagine living there 😉

    1. Hi, Elisa! 🙂 What a lovely surprise! I was just about to shut up shop and head for the bath with my book when I spotted your comment. Thank you very much 🙂 That’s wonderful.

  11. What a great walk, Jo. I could almost smell that sea air. The house is so fabulous. I wonder who is lucky enough to live there and tend the quirky garden? Great photos again, and those leg muscles must be very strong with all the walking you do. 🙂

    1. There was a little dog on guard at the gate, Ad. He wasn’t fond of visitors 😦 (or cameras 🙂 ). Thanks, darlin’. Sometimes the legs hold up better than others. This walk was pretty easy.

  12. Your opening sentence reflects exactly what I was thinking when I saw the header – Seaton Sluice is not the most inviting of place names. But it is a lovely spot and I enjoyed seeing it through your eyes. 😉

    1. You can walk to Seaton Delaval Hall, half a mile away, and that’s really worth seeing too, Robin. (or drive, as we did 🙂 ) Cheers! You’ll be watching St. Andrews?

      1. Awwh! Forgot you were away. 3 way play off over 4 holes. Weather has been diabolical there today. You’re better off where you are 🙂

    1. Sorry to disappoint, Susan, but we didn’t. 😦 I wanted to make a return visit to Seaton Delaval Hall, and I’m glad we did. (and not just for the chocolate cake 🙂 )

  13. I agree with Jude, your walk is getting better and better. Enjoy these beautiful beach images, Jo. I did a cruising the Lake Powell post, but no walking. 🙂 I should have my Banff photos organized soon. I recall reading your comment while we were at the airport to Banff, didn’t get a chance to reply…

    1. No worries, Amy! 🙂 I can’t remember the last time my photos were organised 🙂 I just appreciate your presence whenever you can make it, and your posts when you can’t. Thanks a lot!

  14. Hi Jo,
    I could simply sit there all day and gaze out at the sea, listening to the waves and the birds. 🙂
    Have a great day,

      1. I must admit, both my wife and I are missing the sea somewhat, but for our anniversary we’ll go down to Port Isabel [Texas Gulf coast, near the border with Mexico] for a few days.

  15. Your walks just get better and better Jo, I don’t know how you do it! I had to look up Seaton Sluice to see where we are. You travel a long way up and down this north sea coast don’t you? Do you drive along the coast road or inland? Obviously you have to go inland to cross the Tyne. My mother had a friend in Whitley Bay, which I see is close by. I went there when I was three. And no, I don’t remember it 😉 My surname was Eaton which means settlement on a river or island, maybe why I have an affinity with water. Just think if it had an S in front! So many bits of your walk and the history made me think. This whole region has changed so much from the industrial heartland it once was. Thank you once again for taking us with you on your Monday walk 😀

    1. I enjoyed reading up on this, Jude, because the name intrigued me. I already knew a little about the Delavals from my visit to the Hall but I didn’t know the village history. Thank you! 🙂

      Goes with the image 🙂 It took us about 50 minutes/1 hour getting there via the Tyne Tunnel. You have to pay- shock! horror!- so we don’t go that way much. Funnily enough, out with one of my 80+ year old Nordic walking friends (an amazing lady who does orienteering as well!), she told me that she was born and brought up in Whitley Bay and used to play in the sand dunes. She lives in North Yorks now and didn’t know that the Hall has been restored, so is going back soon for a look. All part of the service 🙂

      I should have put a link in with directions/whereabout. Very remiss! 😦

      1. We ought to put in maps of our walks. I did that with road-trips in South Africa and the US, but difficult to do it with walks. I bet there is a site where you can create your own walks though!

    2. Don’t be daft! 🙂 🙂 I’m grateful that you’ve supported this as well as you have. Just put tea in the oven so I’ve time for a walk before it’s ready. Give me an appetite 🙂 Cheers, hon.

  16. Lots of blue skies, clouds and sunshine to accompany such an interesting walk,Jo, of a gorgeous coast. The photo from the Seaton Sluice Bridge tells your story. Love the houses.

  17. The beach scenes are so dynamic and beautiful, Jo. I also enjoyed seeing the boats lined up to pass through the sluice. Hope your walks this week are serene and full of wonder.

    1. I’m going up to Northumberland again on Friday, Robin, but inland this time. 😦 An area I haven’t been for many years and I’m looking forward to it. 🙂 Thank you!

  18. What amazing entrepreneurs were the Delavals….hope they also stopped from time to time appreciate the beauty of their surroundings. You struck a great day for a walk, Jo.

    1. Ann- welcome back! You must be feeling a little better? Thanks for all those likes again 🙂 🙂 Actually the Delavals had a reputation for wild parties and the like so I guess it was ‘work hard, play hard’. 🙂

  19. When I saw your title I thought to myself that was a name I’d clever liked, then in your first sentence yo made the same point! I didn’t know it had changed so many times – you’d think they could do it again in that case. Seaton Burn would be much nicer. Anyway, the coastline is no less beautiful for having an ugly name. Thanks for quoting Cairnpapple. About to ping you a Pineapple this week.

    1. What’s in a name, Anabel? (except it probably keeps the tourists away 🙂 ) Having said that, there was a Harbour Day about to take place the following day and it looked about to get very busy. How come I always miss these things?
      Intrigued by you pinging me a pineapple, till I spotted the ‘approve’ in my Inbox 🙂

  20. Your info is brill’ but your photos are even better. The blue skies and the water with various beach fronts is one of my favourite scenes.. Thanks for taking me away if only for a short while…

      1. Oh indeed, Jo – preserving, podding, blanching, cooking for supper… and there’s still a colander full of globe artichokes challenging me to do something sensible with them.

      1. Your walk really impressed me – I love that kind of mood – about my walk so I have the next monday ready too – made two walks this weekend, because we leave Corsica later to day… 🙂

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