Jo’s Monday walk : Souter Lighthouse

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My part of the north east coast of England is littered with lighthouses!  The jagged coastline traditionally needed the big guys to flash a warning to passing ships.  Times have changed, but the coastline remains as rugged as ever.

Souter Lighthouse was the first in the world to be designed and built specifically to use alternating electric current.  The lighthouse opened in 1871, and was decommissioned in 1988.  It continued as a radio navigation beacon until 1999, when it was finally closed. Today the National Trust own the property and open it to the public.

It’s only a couple of weeks since I was at Roker lighthouse, on a properly murky day.  This walk heads north from there, along the cliffs to the magnificent lighthouse at Souter.  There’s a long promenade backing the fine stretch of beach, perfect for galloping horses.  A straggle of charming houses follow the bay.  I’m tempted to take a seat.

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Did you spot the fish restaurant sign?  Latimers boast smoked haddock, leek and potato pasties.  Noted, for later.  A sign on the cliff top claims 6 and three-quarter miles to the Tyne Ferry.  We won’t be going that far.  The smooth expanse of beach left behind, below us rocks scatter the shoreline. Fascinating grooves and grottoes hug the cliff’s base.  The potential for shipwreck is easy to see.

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Ahead, in the grass, a stone circle has been formed, not unlike a maze.  I don’t understand its significance, but there are old military bunkers nearby. The track is a little slippy from recent rain and, peering at the rock formations below, I lose my footing.  No damage done!  But, looking at the seat of my jeans, I realise that I’m not quite presentable enough for a restaurant.  I hope you weren’t looking forward to that pastie.

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My favourite part of the walk lies ahead.  The stacks teeter at the water’s edge, harbouring only gulls on lookout duty.  A first glimpse of Souter’s flamboyant red appears on the horizon.  Nearing, I can see the indentations in the rock face, and the stranded islets, clinging to shore.

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And then the cove known as The Wherry.  In former times there was a Lad’s Wherry and a Lassie’s Wherry, for fishing expeditions and picnics in the bay.  A central rock split the bay in two.  Nowadays, in part due to erosion, the sea separates the rock from the shoreline at high tide.

Souter lighthouse is about 3 miles south of the River Tyne.  Beyond the river, 7 miles to the north, St. Mary’s lighthouse at Whitley Bay is a sister Victorian lighthouse to Souter.  With good visibility, the one can be seen from the top of the other.

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I love the sound of a foghorn but, were I married to a mariner, the sound would fill me with dread.  The Souter foghorn has seen several incarnations, and is still occasionally sounded on special event days at the lighthouse.

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Souter lighthouse was revolutionary.  Quoting from Wikipedia, “the 800,000 candle power light was generated using carbon arcs and not an incandescent light bulb, and could be seen for up to 26 miles.  In addition to the main light a red/white sector light shone from a window in the tower below the lantern, to highlight hazardous rocks to the south; it was powered using light diverted (through a set of mirrors and lenses) from the landward side of the main arc lamp.”  As Souter was never automated, it remains pretty much in its original operational state.  I thought that this might make a good subject for Paula’s Traces of the Past.

The grassed area north of Souter was once a thriving mining community of 700 people.  It was completely demolished after the mine closure in 1968, and the population rehoused in new council housing in Whitburn.  A brief history of Souter can be found on the National Trust website, along with details of opening times and how to get there.

Now I know that you will be worrying about your stomach by now.  Latimers having been ruled out, I’m glad to inform you that the lighthouse has its own very pleasant cafe.  Would you like to try a ‘Singing hinnie’?  A warm griddle scone.

Sadly I cannot take you into the lighthouse.  It was half term on my visit and very busy, I’m pleased to say.  Maybe another time?  You might also like my Roker Pier walk.  I’m up to my second cup of coffee this morning, after a spectacular sunrise. Please put the kettle on and join me in a visit to some great blogs.walking logo

Many thanks to all of you who contributed this week.  I’m really happy you can still find time to join me.  For any newcomers, you can find details on my Jo’s Monday walk page.  Just click on the logo above.

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Benches or snow?  Which is it to be?  Let’s start with a Gallivant in the woods!

Cashel Forest

I’ve never been to Mexico, but Jackie’s making up for me.  Puerto Vallarta this week :

Sunday Photo and Monday Walk

Amy finds the perfect bench for Jude, while I just laze on the beach!

Monday Walk : A Beach Walk and February Garden : Monochrome

I was blissfully happy with Drake this week, even wearing my gloves!

Cool art in winter mood

Turns out I couldn’t even say this correctly, but now I’ve had lessons from Smidge :

Culross, Fife

I just about managed to avoid getting splashed by Debbie this week :

Broadstairs to Margate : an easy coastal walk

Or absolutely drowned by Jaspa!

Rough Seas Off Land’s End, Cornwall

Wild water doesn’t seem to stop life from happening Down Under, with Pauline and Jack :

Amazing sights at the beach

Finishing with spectacular beauty in Hawaii!  I’ve told Carol I’m green  :)

Eyeing the Needle

Thanks again, everyone!  I love having your company.  Have a great week!  If you’re needing some travel inspiration, pop over to Monday Escapes. See you there!

181 comments

  1. What a lovely wind blown empty looking head land Jo. Great for blowing the cobwebs away. That stone circle looks intriguing. Wonder if it was built be aliens to land their flying saucers!!!??? Now singing hinnies I have never heard of. Are they a sort of scone?

    1. I keep meaning to search Google for something about that stone circle and forgetting, Pauline. I’ll go and do it as soon as I’ve done my comments. 🙂 It’s a girdle or drop scone- sort of flat? Shows in the photo but not great shots. Tastes good though 🙂 (but the pastie might have been better 😦 )

    2. Good grief, Pauline! I just lost half an hour on this incredible archaelogical site and I still don’t have a definite answer! http://www.aenvironment.co.uk/downloads/Souter%20and%20The%20Leas%20management%20plan.pdf I’m leaving the link here for myself as much as you because there is some fascinating stuff in it and I might never find it again! I would have put it in the post if I’d seen it sooner but not many people would have that level of interest, or ‘staying power’! Bye for now, darlin 🙂

      1. Thank you for the link Jo I have just had a skim through it, 106 pages, looking to see if there was a photo of that weird ring formation. I couldn’t see a photo but there was reference to a “Trow Rock disappearing gun platform” that was experimental but no photos, so maybe that is what it is. Interesting all the history that has been documented going back to Roman times and earlier. The depth of history in UK and Europe always amazes me. We are so young incomparison apart from the incredible Aborigine history going back 40,000 or more years and that is still being researched and documented before it all disappears.

  2. I don’t know why I don’t comment straight away before 151 comments. I’ll get RSI in my scrolling finger! Your lighthouse shots show your love for same – favourites are the first one (is that negative space I see?) and the one from a distances. I also particularly like the collage of pebbly beaches and the phrase “stranded islets.” Off to a post wedding morning tea for the daughter of a dear friend – wedding yesterday, morning tea here today, for Bodalla locals, party party party in Canberra tomorrow night for young friends!

    1. Ooh, that all sounds very exciting! But isn’t the ‘comment’ box at the top? I thought I’d changed it so you didn’t have to scroll down. I’d better check 😦 Yes, Sue has assured me it’s negative space 🙂 🙂 🙂

  3. Beautiful views, Latimer’s fish restaurant and a lighthouse…my kind of walk, well wrapped up no doubt with the wind whipping up that sea air at this time of year. So envigorating, just gorgeous this Jo… xx

  4. I was actually looking very forward to that pastie Jo, but I am glad you didn’t hurt yourself. The Singing hinnie will do.😆

    I love light houses and this one is gorgeous and so are the views and your shots. Thanks for this interesting and lovely walk. ♥

    1. So sorry to disappoint, Sonel! We’re thinking of going back another day. Shall I get you one? 🙂 You deserve it for keeping me company so often. Hope you’re having a good week?

      1. No problem at all Jo. Treats or no treats, it’s always fun walking with you and yes, please. I would appreciate that and thank you for saying so.😆

        No complaints darling, thanks for asking. Quiet and peaceful.😀

        Have a wonderful day. ♥

  5. Phew, glad you made it to the cafe, I was sad to miss the restaurant. Imagine a whole community moved just like that and everything gone, apart from this lovely lighthouse. I have a fascination with them and my favourite is a tPortland Bill – nothing quite like squeezing your way to the top and looking out. Beautiful atmospheric photos, Jo and it looks almost Spring-like!

  6. Beautiful lighthouse and the red and white reminds me of my beloved one in Umhlanga Rocks. Yes, I’ll definitely try one of those Singing Hinnies. So glad no harm was done except to your dignity when you slipped, Jo.🙂

  7. I love lighthouses and stacks so this post was the perfect antidote for a wet Tuesday morning. I used to live two minutes from a harbour and when you mentioned the foghorn that brought back the sound so clearly. As well as the chilly fog the noise of the horn going off every few minutes was so irritating – but obviously very necessary.

    1. Damp here too, Suze, but the sun just trying to fight its way through. Off to Dad’s soon to clean so it matters not. Traumatic morning began with a phone call from our son, who had been shunted by another car. His first involvement in an accident so he’s a bit shook up. As are we 😦 The ups and downs of life! Will try to pop over to yours later today. Take care! 🙂

  8. What a wonderful coastline, Jo! And you walk with such energy and enthusiasm! My mother used to cook Singin’ Hinnies for us when we got home from school sometimes – I loved them, and I’m feeling nostalgic now….

    1. I thought you might, Sue 🙂 I already mentioned that to Anabel, who used to live in the area too. 🙂
      Incidentally, does all that pale blue in my opening lighthouse shot constitute ‘negative space’? It doesn’t only apply to black and white photography, does it?

      1. The pale blue in the opening lighthouse shot does, indeed, constitute ‘negative space’, Jo….and the concept applies to photography generally. Apropos my time in the north, it was only a few years as a student….but my mother was a northerner, hence the singing Hinnies……

  9. I have really enjoyed this walk. I am a fan of rugged beaches and lighthouses. We have a few lighthouses close to where I live and I try to visit as often as possible. One of them is open to the public once a month. I have not visited yet.

  10. Well you can always tempt me with a lighthouse. Long before I set sail, I was drawn to the sea, the lighthouses were calling me. And this one is absolutely magnificent. That first shot is especially AMAZING. And oh, those views. Hugs from Sydney.

    1. Thanks a lot, sweetheart 🙂 There’s something magnificent about them, isn’t there? Glad I’ve got the photos and a cuppa this morning cos it’s wet and miserable here 😦 (though inside for a Singing hinnie would be good, come to think of it 🙂 )

  11. I thoroughly enjoyed this bracing sea adventure, Jo. Your photos are so extensive I could almost smell the briny sea air! I really like the arch rocks, and the picturesque coastal activity–lighthouses and ships, craggy coastline. Enjoyed seeing the fish sign too (kippers).

  12. It looks a great walk – love the looking up at the lighthouse shot. And those chairs are just perfectly placed aren’t they – glad there was cake at the end, that always helps I think🙂 #mondayescapes

  13. I love lighthouses! They make for such interesting walks. Not just the area around them, but all the way to the tippy top. I’m new to your Monday Walks – looking forward to checking back each week🙂 Here’s a link to the latest walk I did in southern Florida.

  14. My kind of walk Jo – this lighthouse is a magnificent structure, loved the history behind it. Beautiful scenery heading to the shoreline, the rock formations are awesome. Thanks for taking us along ~

  15. I was actually looking forward to the pasty, but Rick Stein does something similar so I’ll get one of his in the summer and I’m glad you didn’t do yourself a mischief! The red and white light house reminds me of the one at the Ilha Tavira🙂 this really is my kind of beach, there’s even a twin for Durdle Door, and the stone circle is fab🙂

    1. Hmmm, it’s a long way to come for me to get one of Rick’s, Gilly! And could I afford it if I made the effort? I quite like north east prices 🙂 If only the temperature would go up a notch or 5 🙂

    1. We do! I climbed the other one I mention, St. Mary’s 🙂 So lovely to have you back, Elisa! Summer sojourn over? What am I saying? It’s only Spring! Hope you’ve been busy and happy 🙂

  16. what a charming lighthouse, Jo! and i would love to have a seat overlooking the sea!🙂 this is such a wonderful walk and you take beautiful pictures! 🙂 thanks for taking us along!

  17. Hi Jo,
    What a gorgeous coast! I’m envious. 😉 My wife and I love lighthouses.🙂 And smoked haddock, leek and potato pastry sound yummy to me.
    Have a great week,
    Pit

    1. Thank you for that 🙂 I don’t use Photoshop at all. I have very little patience with the photo editing process so what I see tends to be what you get. If I’m doing something like Jude’s photo challenge I’ll sometimes have a play. ‘Light relief’ 🙂 I’m spoilt for choice when it comes to coastline, and I love it.

  18. I love the “traces of the past connection” and the opening up view really shows the stately lighthouse in it’s powerful size and was just a great opener. The horse photo is another one that really spoke to me – thanks for this lovely walk restless one.🙂

    1. I was ‘brooding’ on this one for Paula and struggled a bit to make it work, Yvette, but I think it’s ok. I did my St. Mary’s lighthouse for her Thursday’s Special a long time ago now, it seems. 🙂 That horse photo is sadly wonky but I still like it. The intent expressions as they ‘steered’ the horses over the dune. One was more experienced and giving encouragement. The little stories that make a walk 🙂 Thanks for being interested, hon.

  19. Childhood nostalgia calling me again! Very familiar with Whitburn and, indeed, singin’ hinnies (not to mention stottie cakes). No snow for you this week – a rainy urban walk coming up shortly.

    1. Thanks a lot, Achim! 🙂 It really is a beautiful coastline and this lighthouse is a gem. If you’re ever up this way, this one and St. Mary’s at Whitley Bay are well worth a trip.

  20. Many thanks to you, dear Jo!
    Your explorations always surprise me , and yor posts for their completeness …
    Not only great shots and History, but also how to deal with our stomachs…..
    You’re unpayable!

    1. It surely was, Ann. It’s a year or two since I’ve been this far up the coast but aren’t red and white stripes just ‘the best’ for a lighthouse? 🙂 Hope things have settled down again in your bit of the world?

  21. questa piaggia molto selvaggia e battuta dal vento è molto triste in questa stagione, ma l’aria frizzante del mare e i colori vistosi dei fari lo fanno dimenticare
    buon inizio settimana

    1. It’s a beautiful lighthouse, Annalisa, and so good to see it popular with the youngsters still. I love this battered coastline 🙂
      Have a wonderful week, darlin’. Hope you are recovering well?

  22. As usual, full of fascinating facts and lovely photographs. I was with you all the way – despite the cold. I went for a ‘Sunday walk’ yesterday, but the cold drove me home quickly. I’m very much a fair-weather walker.

  23. So much to explore on your coast, and one I scarcely know at all, but for your wonderful rambles. Your remark about foghorns was spot on too. Love the stripy lighthouse, and as for the Singing hinnie…sheer bliss!

  24. Thanks Jo, this looks like a ‘must do’ – don’t know why or how this has passed me by. Perhaps because the Geordie lass never mentions anything vaguely near or associated with Sunderland. I will overcome🙂

  25. I’m glad you still managed a bite to eat! That sounds fabulous having a rest at the lighthouse. What a stunning walk, I feel the sunshine on my face and the sea breeze in my hair! Good start to the morning! #MondayEscapes

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