Jo’s Monday walk : Spanish City


‘Girl you look so pretty to me, like you always did

Like the Spanish City to me, when we were kids…’

I don’t know for sure what holds me in thrall with those words from Dire Straits, but as I walk along the seafront at Whitley Bay they play over and over in my head.  The Spanish City takes me back to my childhood, when it was a funfair.  It all looks very different these days.

A £36million renovation plan is in operation to restore the Dome and create an attractive seafront promenade.  Currently it still has a few rough edges, but progress is underway.  Come with me, and we’ll do ‘the walk of life’?

If you look off into the distance you can dimly see one of the purposes of a walk along this shoreline.  Remember St. Mary’s Lighthouse?  She sits at the end of a causeway that attracts the crowds, whatever the weather.  What are we waiting for?  Let’s get down among the rock pools.


Did Meg say she was collecting feet?  No, it’s no good!  I need both to balance on these slippery rocks.  Let’s hop back up on the promenade. There’s a skate park up ahead.  The kids love those.  The beach is full of dog walkers, and the odd warning sign.


I stop to read a sign about Tide Wrack and Rock Pipits.  Apparently the latter feed on the insects, crustaceans and snails found among the seaweed and rocks.  Conditions are so good here that visitors pop over from Scandinavia in the winter months.  You’ll be pleased to know there’s no waste. Leftover seaweed is used to line the local pipit’s nests in spring.  We’re much closer to the lighthouse now.



You can see already the numbers St. Mary’s attracts.  It’s an overcast day, but warm by north east standards, and whole families have come to play in the rock pools.  Not forgetting the dogs, of course.  It’s essential though to keep a close eye on the tide times.

There is another attraction here, aside from the obvious charms of the lighthouse.  St Mary’s Island is a grey seal haul-out- an area of land that the seals use regularly to rest and digest food.  Seals come onto the rocks and, if undisturbed, will remain there until the tide floats them away.  Grey seals are amongst the rarest in the world, and 40% of them live in UK waters.

Seals are normally solitary creatures, but they often haul-out in groups.  At just 3 weeks old, a seal pup is independent.  Many of the seals on St. Mary’s are youngsters, and it’s essential that they have time to restore their energy levels undisturbed, whilst learning to fend for themselves.

St. Mary’s do their best to educate about and protect the seals.  I have to admit to a great fondness for this lighthouse, which was built on the site of an 11th century monastic chapel.  The monks maintained a lantern to warn passing ships of the danger of the rocks. Sadly the current lighthouse no longer maintains this function, but it’s still a very welcoming space.  A variety of activities take place here, including Fossil Frolics, Rock pool Rambles and even Extreme Rockpooling!  Not quite that brave? How about the Lighthouse Bake Off party?  Set Sunday, 2nd October, aside.

If you’d like to see inside the lighthouse, this post will take you to the top of the 137 stairs.  Opening times and other useful details can be found on the website. (including where to find cake, naturally)  Which reminds me- time to put the kettle on!

walking logo

Thank you once again for your generous support.  I have heaps of great walks to share again this week.  Impossible to pick a favourite. If you have one you think I might like, why not join in?  Details are on my Jo’s Monday walk page.  Just click on the logo above.


Ice Age!  That’s a wonderfully cool image after the hot weather we’ve been having in the UK.  Thanks, Drake!

Hidden history

Caught between a rock and a hard place with Anabel?

Dumbarton and the Denny Tank

Jackie’s on a mission to find the post office museum in Toronto :

Return to Sender- Address Unknown

Welcome back Violet Sky, and nice to meet you Big Bruce!

The nicest town around

Wine anybody?  It’s totally taken for granted in pretty French villages is :

La Couvertoirade Village

Ruth is taking us for an adventure with bears (or without!).  Don’t miss her superb blog :

Sequoia National Park : Tokopah Falls

I do try to bring you an interesting mix of walks, and am delighted to invite Sartenada here, from Finland :

White bridges

For those of you who prefer to ride to doing too much walking, Jaspa has the very thing :

The Funiculars of Valparaiso, Chile

My lovely mate Cathy’s not afraid of a bit of walking.  And she has an eye for beauty :

Philadelphia Gardens : Chanticleer

More beauty, from NYC this time!  Don’t you just love a meander?

Meandering through the Brooklyn Botanical Garden

Denzil’s taking it slowly too this week, after a back injury.  But not too slow :

Bierbeek and Mollendaal Forest

I’m sure there must be a Dire Straits song to fit this one, but I really can’t think of it.  Thanks, Susan!

Walking the Cruise Ship

More cruising, with Carol this time.  I’m going to jump ship in the Whitsundays.  Can you blame me?

At the Beach

All good things come to those who wait, right?  Absolutely!  Please welcome Madhu back :

An Amble through a Storied Park- Lodhi Gardens

Did you ever have a really, really good day?  I just did!  Badfish came to town.  Loud fanfare!

Prague : Up Close and Personal

Many thanks for keeping me company again this week.  I wrote this walk with my friend, Viv, in mind.  I think it’s one she would have enjoyed.  Have a great week, and take good care of yourselves.


  1. Aye lass, how did I miss this? How odd, I usually look out for your Monday walk. Anyway I am here now, though not for long as I need to go to the station and pick up the OH who is on the train from Birmingham! Your lighthouse is very much like ‘my’ St Michael’s Mount, access over the causeway. You do love your lighthouses 🙂 My mother had a friend who lived in Whitley Bay and we (her and I) visited a few times when I was very young. Tragically the friend’s son was killed when he ran out from behind an ice-cream van. I’m sure you didn’t want to know that, though you probably remember the TV adverts warning against doing precisely that! That North sea coast has some very lovely places along it. And although I have no idea about the Spanish City, I do like Dire Straits 😀

    1. Funny how a place is never mentioned for years, and then it’s every second breath! James is in Brum next week for his final exams. 🙂 Those icecream van deaths were quite common at one time. What a way to go! The Spanish City was a rather tacky fairground (aren’t they all?) and I don’t know that anyone’s felt the loss. Well, apart from Dire Straits! 🙂 Thanks for making it over here. Off you go to be nice to OH. 🙂

    1. Incredible, isn’t it? They reckon 50% death rate though 😦 Not an easy place to be brought up, the sea. I’m almost glad I’m human (just! 🙂 ). Not bad at all, Corey. I just met Gilly! (Lucid Gypsy) 🙂 🙂

  2. Another wonderful walk – thank you for taking us along. I now have Dire Straits in my head, thank you – but it’s not all bad because they are one of my favourite bands and always remind me of when Mr Decisive and I met way back when. 🙂

  3. So many wonderful walks in your neck-of-the-woods, RJo! I love the clear water over the rock pools and the reflections in your photos. What is it about the sea that offers so much beauty??

  4. Jo the promenade is spectacular. What a lovely walk by the sea this morning. My favourite image is the first one of the rock pools. Love that perspective of being down lo. As though I could reach out and f
    put my fingers in the water. Wishing you a happy week my friend.

  5. Wonderful walk as always Jo! Walks along a beach are always great fun especially if they lead to a lighthouse 🙂 Just as long as you don’t get caught by the tide! Lovely photos – have a great week 🙂

      1. Twist my arm! I tried to message you on your courgettes but Megabus Wifi is rubbish! What do you expect for a tenner? I’ll pop over shortly now I’ve landed.

  6. I haven’t read many blogs recently, but your title drew me in, because DS are one of my favourite bands.
    Now how spooky is this, half way through reading, what should come on the radio….yes, Tunnel of Love 😳 xx

      1. It was marvelous and my knee was surprisingly well behaved. Still, now that I am back I can see it still needs time to heel. Please, give Gilly my regards and Jo, please take care xxx

  7. I’ve never seen pictures of Whitley Bay before. It’s where Don lived from his birth until he was 23 and emigrated to Canada. I love that Dire Straits song, but not the look of Whitley Bay – too grey cold and bleak for me. I’d go there for the seals though!

    1. It was warmer than it might look, Alison. 🙂 It will have changed hugely from when Don was a lad. It’s now a reasonably affluent commuter area for Newcastle. And I love my rocky coastline 🙂

  8. Interesting that this was once a permanent funfair, and how nice that you remember it fondly, Jo. I love those rock pools and what looks like lava formations. I don’t know if it is lava, but it reminds me of Multicolored/Colorful Beach (五彩滩景区;WǔCàiTānJǐngQū), a volcanic stone beach, on Weizhou Island in China’s South Sea. I love the markings and shapes of the rocks and that dramatic sky. What a fun walk. The Spanish City should be great once they restore it.

    1. It’s a lovely bit of rugged coastline, Cathy. 🙂 Whitley Bay was quite a poor area at one time but it’s in the commuter area for Newcastle and seems to be coming into its own again. Hugs, sweetheart! I’m off to meet Gilly tomorrow! Fun 🙂 🙂

    1. Viv knew the north east quite well, Karen, and particularly Northumberland. She loved the sea too and spent an adventurous time in the Seychelles. She was a lovely lady. Thank you for taking the time to read the post. 🙂 🙂

  9. I like the Dire Straits and how you incorporate the song into your walk, Jo. Beautiful lighthouse and location. I enjoyed your walk and did not sweat too much, thanks to the overcast! I was hoping you would include a link to my previous Monday blog (, but maybe it did not qualify, since it was a collection of a few short walks. 🙂 Have a wonderful week with enough distractions!

    1. I’m so sorry, Liesbet! I wasn’t sure if you intended that as a walk link when you included it last week or if you were going to follow up with individual walks. I should have asked! There are quite a lot of links this week, so I’ll include it for you next week (wherever we roam 🙂 ) Apologies and have a good week too!

      1. No worries, Jo, and thanks for including me next week. I definitely did not want you to feel bad about it!! I have so much to write about, I don’t think I will “return” to those three sights from last weekend. Busy times… 🙂

    2. No worries! I know the feeling. I can only keep up with the responses if I blog 3 times a week but there are always things I want to share that I can’t fit in. Just ask Jude! 🙂 🙂

  10. Another childhood haunt of mine, though we visited the funfair at Seaburn more often as it was much closer.

    Thanks for the memories and for the mention. No more walks from me for a couple of weeks though, as I work through my Tibetan road-trip saga (part 2 just gone up!)

    1. It’s coming up in the world, Anabel. 🙂 Thanks for the nudge. I’m off to Birmingham tomorrow (a meeting with Gilly is on the horizon 🙂 ) so fulla busy but I’ll keep track when I can. 🙂

    1. A change of pace, I thought? 🙂 I know Jude can never have too many gardens but not everyone feels the same and I hate to be boring. Sending great big hugs! A very nice walk with my friends this morning. Now to get my head in the right place for Birmingham- or more importantly, my body 🙂 🙂

      1. It’ll be interesting to see the seafront develop, personally I like it as it is and I hope they don’t change too much. There are too many places being ‘developed’ and tending to lose their individuality, with identical ‘street furniture’, like the shopping centres. At least they can’t change the rock pools, they’re cool as are your photos 🙂
        I’d like to see seals hauling out, there are seals around here, but you’re lucky if you see them and I’ve never seen one close. You do live in a lovely area honey!

      2. It does have variety, Gilly- remember the industrial stuff just down the road? But I can turn my back on that. All set for another adventure! 🙂 Leaving soon. Bringing hugs 🙂

      3. Now steady on! I thought you wanted cocktails, greedy person 🙂 🙂 Good day yesterday, when you finally got there? Oh, you have so much to tell me about! We might need a week 🙂

  11. I believe your posts made me feel romantic, I like such places at seaside, a lot of stories come to my head there! Exciting, Jo! Have a wonderful week ahead!

  12. Ah, Denzil quoted the line I remember, from Cullercoats to Whitley Bay. I was staying with a friend in Whitley Bay listening to one of her (many) DS albums.

    Spanish City, I thought, reading the title. What on earth is Jo walking there for? It was definitely tat when I visited. But if the tat is no longer there it sounds like an improvement.

    1. There are quite a few ‘des res’ there now, Kate. It’s commuter land for Newcastle. I was actually there because Mick was doing a garden design locally and I was ‘pootling’. 🙂

      1. My idea of commuter land for Newc was Gosforth. Tbf, Whitley Bay, Cullercoats, Tynemouth etc were always commuter land. People at my office commuted in from halfway up Northumberland! It’s bad enough going to work. The only time I ever commuted seriously was into London.

        As well as Dire Straits, which my Spanish neighbours engagingly pronounce as Dear Streets, are you up on the Animals connections? I have unprintable stories on that 🙂

      2. Unprintable sounds promising. You’ll have to email me them 🙂 Off to Birmingham tomorrow so not a lot of time but I’ll try to keep up. 🙂

  13. sorry Jo, I do not have your email after all – would you be good enough to send it to me. My letter to you is in Draft 🙂
    and btw, my husband JO and I smiled when we saw you too like Dire Straits. Did I tell you we met Mark Knoepfler here in Bangalore a few years back when he and the band played to “a full house” of course. 🙂

  14. thanks to you, Jo I learn soooo much about “our England” etc. your photos are superb, I can smell the sea – hear the waves – hear the gulls, the laughter of the children and……..feel jeallous for your canvas shoes!!!!!! 🙂 🙂 🙂 btw I have sent you a short email today. Hugs Carinax

    1. Those poor canvas shoes are a bit dilapidated now, sad to say. 😦 I’m heavy on shoes. Must be the mileage (and the rock pools 🙂 )
      Many thanks for your kind words. I do like Dire Straits!

    1. I knew you’d be up for that, Sue! 🙂 I believe it entails dangling a bit around some of the more difficult to get to pools. So glad you asked. Shall I book for us? 🙂

  15. Great band and lovely walk . . . . . and I think I am in love with that seal even though it is a photograph of a photograph! You are so lucky to have all of this almost on your doorstep.

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