Jo’s Monday walk : Roker pier

Roker lighthouse

Roker lighthouse

There’s nothing I like better than standing at the foot of a lighthouse and looking up!  Especially when, as in this case at Roker, Sunderland, the pier has been newly restored and it’s possible to walk right out there.

Newly restored Roker Pier

Newly restored Roker Pier

Last week I mentioned that I might have to repeat some of my walks.  This is a variation on one I’ve previously done but with the addition of the newly accessible pier.  Mind you- it was bitter cold out there, but it didn’t seem to deter whole families of hardy northerners. Toddlers skippetty-hopped along, tugging parents hands, or racing ahead on ‘Christmas-new’ bikes and scooters.

600 metres long, Roker Pier is 111 years old and grade II listed.  Enormous seas had rendered it unsafe for the public, and a restoration programme began last June.  It reopened in November. Further work is planned to both pier and lighthouse, but I really should start at the beginning of the walk, so grab your warmest coat and woollies.  It’s time to go.

This was my start point- note the frost!

This was my start point- note the frost!

The sun was fighting hard  to melt the frost

The sun was fighting hard to melt the frost

A last remnant of 'The Red House'

One last remnant of chimney pot

Part of the Riverside Sculpture Trail, the group above are entitled ‘The Red House’, and are just beyond the National Glass Centre, where you can park for free.  The trail continues towards the marina which, because of its situation, is probably the warmest spot on our walk today.  In fact, I distinctly remember an elderly couple sitting on a bench, backs to the wall and faces lifted reverently to the sun.  Overcoats on, of course!

The first sighting of the pier

The first sighting of the pier- note the hard frost on the ramp!

Just beyond the marina and the boatyard, a vista of beach and pier opens up before you.  The concrete bowls on the beach are filled to different levels, representing different phases of the moon.  A promenade leads past a children’s playground to the final item on the Sculpture Trail. This highly polished granite monolith, designed by Andrew Small, has a circular cutout which makes a fine frame for Roker Lighthouse.

The children's playground

The children’s playground

The marble monolith and the pier

The marble monolith and the pier

Roker as described by Wikipedia is a seaside resort.  I doubt that many would lay that claim in these days of exotic holidays, but it still retains a certain charm.  It was news to me that the Roker story goes back to 1587, when the Abbs family were granted land on the north shore of the River Wear.  It was a condition that they provide six soldiers to defend the mouth of the river.

Did I mention that further work needs to be done on the pier?

Did I mention that further work needs to be done on the pier?

The railings could definitely use some TLC!

The railings could definitely use some TLC!

But out on the pier it doesn't seem to matter

But out on the pier it doesn’t seem to matter


I didn’t have a band of Northumberland Hussars to pipe me off the pier, like the Earl of Durham, but it would have been nice.  As would a hot drink!  But for that we need to return to the National Glass Centre.  You can pass through the tunnel at the end of the promenade, into Roker Park, and complete a circuit back to the front, or simply retrace your steps.

Be sure to leave yourself time to loiter in the Glass Centre.  You’re bound to like something!

 Even if it's an angel in a  bauble!

Even if it’s only an angel in a bauble!  So, that’s another walk completed!  I hope you enjoyed it. I’ll be back next week, and we’ll wander some more.

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If you’d like to join in my Monday walks, it’s very easy to do.  Just click on the logo or my walks page.  Many thanks to this weeks contributors.  Now, let’s put the kettle on and settle back to read!


Lovely Debbie from Travel with Intent is joining us this week.  I know you’ll enjoy Glasgow through her eyes. Many thanks, Debs!

The Banks of the Clyde

Paula has an on-going love affair with Corsica and it’s not hard to see why  :

A Walk among the Menhirs

You can count on Cardinal to have a unique viewpoint!  :

Oslo- a Village on Steroids

Again, Jude has me wishing I was on the far side of the world!  :

Hills Road walk

Amy’s back with a bang!  Well, maybe that’s not the right expression around a volcano!

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

A Monday walk wouldn’t be a Monday walk without Drake, would it?

Friendly minded castle conquest

Please welcome a very distinguished newcomer, from Australia.  Many thanks for joining us, Elizabeth!

New Year’s walk : a giant stairway and a miniature train

And a lovely lady called Lisa joins us from the Bay of Islands  :

Opua-Pahia Coastal Walkway

Rosemay finishes off her zoo walk.  It’s hot!

Tales from Perth, part 2

And then Yvette comes in with a blockbuster of a post!

Shadows in New York City

If you’re not totally worn out, you can even do an evening walk?  Welcome Bon Minou!

Amsterdam at Night

What a selection!  Brilliant, aren’t they?  Have a great week everyone, and happy walking!

No time like the present

Seaham's burgeoning marina

Seaham’s burgeoning marina

I was pleasantly surprised, on Saturday, to come upon the view above.  Seaham Harbour, as I’ve always known it, is a former mining village, whose pithead once dominated the landscape. Regeneration has taken place, and the marina and visitor centre for the RNLI now lie in the old harbour, with its iconic lighthouse banished to the distance.

Come and take a closer look at these galleries with me.

There’s a great cafe called “The Lookout” pointing right out to sea, and below that some exhibition space.  I really enjoyed the visitor centre for the Royal National Lifeboat Institution.  It’s full of photos, nautical maps and stories of heroism. There’s no entry fee but it’s a pleasure to slip a few coins in the boat.  The bravery required on these sometimes stormy seas is worth every penny, and the staff were informative and very pleasant.

I gave a little history of the town, and it’s rather surprising connection to the poet, Lord Byron, in Windswept in Seaham.

There was a nice breeze blowing on Saturday, but not one to bend you double.  It’s raining again today so I’m using my normal walking time to look back at sunnier skies.  I almost forgot to mention the delicious pana cotta and Swiss chocolate icecream I indulged in.  I know there are a few of you with a sweet tooth.  “Leaf, bark and berries” was my cafe of choice.

A last look at the lighthouse

One last look at the lighthouse

Chasing the Byron connection? Windswept at Seaham

Rough seas at Seaham Harbour - copyright Ian Britton at

Life is strange sometimes, isn’t it?  It was one of those “blowing a hooligan” days, but the sky was blue and bright and I just couldn’t stay home.  As always, it was the lure of the sea that pulled me up the coast to Seaham.  It’s a place I don’t often visit, but whenever I do it seems to have improved.  Over the years it’s had to pull itself up by the bootstraps.

Revitalised Terrace Green, Seaham

The Durham coastline is rugged in the extreme and Seaham Harbour was hacked out of these cliffs to provide transport for locally mined coal.  Seaham’s deep mines reached out more than 3 miles beneath the North Sea.  Seacoal and waste despoiled these beaches as far as the eye could see when the last mine finally closed in 1992.  Almost 20 years later, the sea has washed and groomed them back to a semblance of their old selves.

Of course, man has pitched in to help with the repair.  The success of this is evident in the Coastal Footpath which now graces the clifftops.  At numerous points along the coast road it’s easy to drop down onto wide sweeping stretches of coastline.

Seaham itself has a vast panorama.  At the southerly end the lighthouse juts out into the harbour.  Sometimes, returning home by train from Newcastle, I’ve witnessed the sea battering its way in over the harbour wall.  Today was not so ferocious, but I had to lean into the wind.

Lower promenade

From North Terrace you can descend to a lengthy promenade which hugs the cliffs.  Not pretty in itself, still it gives shelter from the wind and the chance to observe the nooks and crannies of the giants above.  Dogs foolishly bark at the waves and small wellie-wearers enjoy the rock pools.

Seaham Hall Beach Car Park Sculpture

At the northern end I clamber back to the cliff top to admire the Seaham Hall Beach Car Park sculpture.  Shaped like the layout of St Mary’s Church, it’s one of a number of sculptures which pay tribute to the town’s heritage.

Vane Tempest Sculpture

The Vane Tempest Sculpture is a striking piece of art work, depicting the skyline of the former Vane Tempest Colliery.

The upper promenade leads back to Terrace Green.  Opposite, at 17A North Terrace, is my favourite coffee stop in Seaham, “Leaf, Bark and Berries”.  An intriguing mix of food emporium, café and furniture shop, the homemade quiches are excellent and I always enjoy a browse at the crafts and cabinetry on display.  Using the sizeable properties to their full potential seems to be a Seaham trait, as I noticed that the newer “Black Truffle Coffee Shop” on Terrace Green boasted a boutique at the rear.  Must check it out, next time.

Leaf, Bark and Berries- cafe-cum-browsing opportunity

Looking back at my subject, you could be forgiven for wondering what all this has to do with Lord Byron.  On 2nd January, 1815 he married Anna Isabella Milbanke, the daughter of the owner of Seaham Hall.  The marriage took place at the Hall rather than at nearby St Mary’s, and was thought by many to be doomed for this reason.  Whatever the cause, they were to last only a year.  A child, Augusta Ada, was born on 2nd December.  She never knew her father, but at her own request was buried next to him in the family vault at Hucknall Torknard Church, Nottingham.  Which, completely coincidentally, brought me full circle with my last post on Byron’s ancestral home, Newstead Abbey.

Seaham Hall today is a very grand and successful hotel, the only obvious connection, Lord Byron’s Walk.

Many more details of history and heritage can be found on from whom I have borrowed a number of photographs.  The most recent addition to the town sculptures sits beside the new Byron Place Shopping Centre.

The Brothers- waitin t'gan down

Life as it was in Seaham, a town proud of it’s industrial past, yet reaching out to the future.