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. Such a beautiful spot! I have a thing for light houses, so really enjoyed this post, and the history behind it. Glad you didn’t hurt yourself on your fall!

      1. You too, Jo – hoping it gets better – speaking of falls, I took one skiing over the weekend and am currently nursing a hurt leg :(.

  2. 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.

  3. 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 🙂 🙂 🙂

  4. 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

    1. Sunny and bright at first, Sherri, but when those clouds roll in it’s a swift step out for home. I did enjoy it, though 🙂 Glad to have your company!

      1. I bet…love joining you Jo, even if a straggler…but you know where to find me, always at the back, lol 🙂 xx

  5. 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. ♥

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