Greatham village

Jo’s Monday walk : Greatham Creek

The spy holes in the hide

The spy holes in the hide, Greatham Creek

First, a word of explanation.  For quite some time I’ve been including walks in my posts, and most of you seem to enjoy taking a stroll with me.  It occurred to me the other day (when I was out walking, of course) that I could make this a regular feature, and invite people to join in and share, if they want to.  Lots of you will have favourite walks, and I would love to hear about them.

So, let’s start with Greatham Creek.  Now, unless you’re a local, I know you will be reading this as Great Ham, but the pronunciation is, in fact, Gree Tham.  Funny old language, isn’t it?  Not long since, I took you on a wander through the snowdrops in Greatham Village.  That could well be the start point for this walk, but I am choosing to do it differently today.

Instead, we're starting at the bird hide on the Seal Sands road

Instead, we’re starting at the bird hide on the Seal Sands road

See the peep holes? Now what are they looking at?

See the peep holes? Now, what are they looking at?

This fellow, and his friends

This fellow, and his friends

You did notice that I called it Seal Sands road, didn’t you?  The area is highly industrialised, with smoke belching from chimneys on the skyline, but for a number of years this has been home to a colony of seals.  So much so that, passing by on the bus to Middlesbrough with my nose stuck in a book, I sometimes even forget to notice them.  Not today, though.

Clear and bright with just a little nip to the air, it was perfect for socialising with seals.

Now a seal might like a little privacy, and rightly so

Now a seal might like a little privacy, and rightly so

So there are opportunities to hide yourself

So there are opportunities to ‘hide’ yourself

And still get a decent view of the seals (and the industry!)

While still getting a decent view of the seals (and the industry)

There is a car park on the Seal Sands road (the A189), right by the hide.  When you’ve had enough of playing hide and seek, cross over the creek on the road bridge and follow the public footpath off to your left.  Work is currently in progress to extend the footpath on the other side of the bridge, which will lead to another hide.

Crossing the creek

Crossing the creek

Which spreads out, inland

Which spreads out, inland

And the seals carry on doing what seals do

Passing the seals, who carry on doing what seals do
As does the industry!

As does the industry!

The creek is tidal, so the water level is variable.  The number of seals basking on the sands varies too.  To be truthful, it isn’t always the weather for basking.  When the skies are leaden the whole area is very depressing.

But whenever they can, they're there

But nobody seems to have told the seals!

The patterns carved by the creek vary too

The patterns carved by the creek vary, too

Unravelling like knitting yarn

Winding off like unravelling yarn

The footpath winds around the creek

The footpath follows the creek, with occasional steps up and down

Then it veers off to the right, heading towards Greatham Village.  The fields were still a little flooded in places, after the heavy rain, but passable, with care.  I didn’t have proper walking shoes on and opted to turn back.

There is a way around, honest!

There is a way around, honestly!

The walk continues, passing the derelict Cerebos site and over the railway tracks into Greatham. The “Hope and Anchor” on the High Street is an old favourite of mine, if you need a food or drink stop.  Or you can simply retrace your steps at any point.  I was only out walking for about an hour, having come with the sole purpose of seeing the seals.

So, that’s my walk for today.  I hope you enjoyed it.  Now I’m rather hoping that I might tempt a few of you into sharing walks with me?  You can include as much or as little detail as you like.  A full walk would be great but if you want to show me just a photo or two from a walk you know, I’d be happy with that too.  My walks will mostly be in the north east of England, because that’s home, but now and then I might just stray.

If you decide to participate, please leave a link to your walk in the comments box below.  Let’s see how far we can get, shall we?  I’m really looking forward to it.

Tiptoe through the … snowdrops?

Fragile and beautiful

Fragile and beautiful

I’d better get a wiggle on!  Last Sunday I went on a snowdrop walk, but it’s March already and there are crocuses everywhere.  Soon, those tulips will be along.  Or is that wishful thinking?

IMG_3598

A yellow straw trail sounded much better than slithering in the mud, as I had on previous years. The sky was looking ominous and the Community Hall was already full of tea slurpers.  I had the snowdrops all to myself!

It was all done rather delightfully, with random snowdrop “facts” breaking up the sea of green and white.  You can pause the slideshow if you need to, to read them properly.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Greatham , a small village 3 miles south of Hartlepool, is the site of the Hospital of God, founded in 1273 by the Bishop of Durham.  Originally the hospital was founded to aid the poor, but it became over time “a house of entertainment for gentlemen”, according to Wikipedia.  I’m not sure if this is a euphemism, but certainly the grounds are very grand, and contain the chapel of the parish church, St. John the Baptist.  The main building now functions as a nursing home.

The rain made me scurry for the car.  Another triumph for the waterproof jacket!  But not before a quick shot of the Corn Lady on the village green.

IMG_3601

No wonder she looks grim!