north east coast

Jo’s Monday walk : Blast Beach, orchids and P’s in a Pod

Just south of Nose’s Point at Seaham, on the north east coast, lies a stark, uninviting stretch of beach.  I’ve walked along the cliff top, looking down on it, many times.  On a warm and hazy May day, I was somewhat surprised to find myself descending steps that led directly to Blast Beach.

It was a day of surprises.  Up on the cliff top I had already met Devon sculptress, Louise Plant , watering her P’s in a Pod.  The art installation was being newly installed and my first thought was that she was reviving the grass surrounding the P’s.  Not so!  The pieces were being watered to enhance their patina.  You can read the story of the P’s and their journey on the link.

They represent a new approach to exhibiting art in County Durham.  The cast iron structures will be displayed at 4 different sites in the region, the idea being that a different backdrop will enable us to respond differently to them.  The reclaimed coastline at Seaham is the start point for their adventure.  After chatting to Louise for a while, it was on with my own mission- to seek out a few orchids. Around this time of year wild orchids sparkle in the long grass of the cliff tops like incandescent fireworks.

It’s always hard to find the first of the orchids, but many follow in its wake.  Continuing along the cliff, I noticed a pathway I hadn’t previously taken much notice of.  It could only lead downwards to the beach.  Why not take a look?

It’s not an inviting stretch of beach but the stacks do add interest, and close to the shoreline the rocks begin to develop an iron colouration.

Blast Beach was once the scene of coal production on a massive scale and the waste from that process defiled this beach and much of the surrounding area.  Bleak though it may still look, huge efforts have been made to clean up this stretch of coast and restore it to nature.

End to end, this is a long beach.  I circle both stacks and head back slowly towards Nose’s Point.

Ahead lies a steep climb up to the cliff top.  Let’s take a deep breath and go for it.

Made it!  I bet you’re in need of a cuppa now.  Actually it’s a good place to bring a flask and a picnic, but if you’ve come unprepared you can head into Seaham.  There are a couple of good cafes.  Back at the cliff top a young man was busy taking photographs of the P’s.  I moved aside to be out of shot but he waved me back in.  He was taking promotional shots and wanted a willing admirer or two.  Myself and husband duly obliged, but so far I’ve been unable to track down his work.  Maybe just as well…

I wrote most of this post while watching the concert in aid of the victims of the terrorist attack on Manchester.  It gave me hope for our future.  The love was palpable and I was proud of our young people.  Just 24 hours before I had been watching as horror unfolded at London Bridge.  I feel blessed, because my son had been at London Bridge station at 9pm that evening, but was out of range and blissfully unaware when the nightmare hit.

 

Many thanks to you all for your continued support.  I love sharing walks with you. Details of how to join me can always be found on my Jo’s Monday walk page.  Definitely time for a cuppa now!

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Becky goes her own sweet way in the Algarve this week :

Serra de Monchique

A double dose of delight from Drake, in the beautiful village of Èze :

High level of atmosphere 1/2

High level of atmosphere 2/2

Fun and beer with Lady Lee :

Cycled to Waldwirtschaft

All singing, all dancing, with Jackie!

Bloomin Vegas

And something a little more exotic from Indra :

Sikkim Odyssey 1… Rumtek Monastery

Say hello to Gina!  She takes us walking in one of my favourite parts of the Lake District :

Ullswater Way

And if you’ve been waiting for Susan, then Part 2 is definitely worth the wait :

East Harlem Jane’s Walk 2017 (Part II) : Community Murals

A bird watching walk next, from Mari- Becky, are you paying attention?

Bird watching in Malaga

An amazing dawdle or two with Meg.  I just can’t choose :

Following my nose 

Last day in Melbourne

Three friends and so much more!  The delights of Venice, with Paula :

Tra Amici

Then a very English stroll with Carol.  Such cute bunnies!

Meeting the Locals

Yesterday I came across a lady called Anne-Marie and a series of walks you may not have heard of.  Please say hello :

Portuguese Camino in May

And we’ll finish with a rather interesting sculpture trail, from Cady Luck Leedy :

Jo’s Monday walk : Mainz, Germany

That’s it for another week.  I hope this one brings you some happiness.  Take care, and God bless!

Jo’s Monday walk : Back on the beach

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Whenever we go walking on our north east England coastline, we keep an idle eye open for sea glass.  Usually it’s in milky soft hues, but bottle green and turquoise are not unknown . The little chap above had us well fooled.  He’d obviously swum out of a child’s bucket, to twinkle up at us from the beach.

I won’t be walking with you next week, so I’m determined to leave you with some sunny images.  Last week was a little glum, wasn’t it?

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The other half wanders through the shot, distracting me from getting a level horizon.  The one below is better. (and minus my shadow!)

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The tide was advancing rapidly that day, and I had to do my famous teetering on rocks act, camera stowed safely in my pocket.  Why is it that he has so much better a sense of balance?  He kindly came back to hold my hand, or we might never have got there.

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It’s a coastline with an industrial past, so the rocks are always interestingly speckled and battered.  And there’s the sea glass to enjoy.

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Not forgetting the occasional sea monster!  There’s one structure that always draws the eye.  Rotting timbers and frayed stumps simply add to the appeal of the magnificent remnants of Steetley Magnesite’s pier.

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I never tire of shooting it, from all angles.  The last shot is a good example of convergence, isn’t it?  Sonel pointed one out to me the other day.  If you’re looking for photographic skill combined with creativity, hers is a great place to visit.

At this point you have a choice.  So long as the tide cooperates you can carry on along the craggy coastline, towards Crimdon Dene.

Sometimes the wind whips up, swirling the sands around you.  Click on the last photo in the gallery above and you’ll be able to make out the pier, in the far distance.  We’ve walked quite a way.  You can continue through the Dene, catching a bus back down the coast road, or you can retrace your steps along the beach.

Eventually you come back to Hartlepool Headland, with it’s proudly standing town walls. It’s been a safe haven for me for many a long year.  Look beyond the harbour, and on the horizon you can just make out the industry along Seal Sands Road, where we went seal spotting last week.

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On the Headland, Mary Rowntree’s tearooms have a lovely view across the harbour.  But I feel I know you well enough to invite you back to mine.  I’ll just pop the kettle on.  See you soon!

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My posting will be haphazard, to say the least, for the next month.  I’m deserting this safe haven for my familiar Algarve one, where I usually switch off from the world and its worries.  I hope to have another walk for you on Monday, 25th April, but just a few days after that I will be accompanying Dad to Poland for 2 weeks.  Another family visit and lots of smiles.

If, in the meantime, you’d like to share a walk, please feel free to do so, but be aware that I might not be able to share it for a while. Many thanks for your continuing support.  As usual, the logo above will take you to my Jo’s Monday walk page.

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SO excited to kick off this week with a walk by Lucile!  If you don’t know her, you’re in for a treat (and if you do, you’ll expect the best, and not be disappointed).  AND she’s in Portugal!

Walking through Sights and colours of Lisbon

Introducing a blog called MyScribblez next.  All scribblers amongst you, please pop over and say ‘hi’ :

Quebec on Foot

Drake likes the ladies, especially in an artful pose :

Blooming nudity

The scenery around Greenock is a nice surprise.  Take a look with Anabel :

The Greenock Cut

You won’t be surprised to find that Jackie likes shopping :

St. Lawrence Market

Or that Ellen has a badly behaved dinghy?  Maybe it’s been reformed since this post :

Going for a Walk : Coromandel Town (or Coro pies are best)

Smidge has some nice romantic looking photos from the Scottish Borders :

Dryburgh Abbey & The River Tweed

And Susan… how about close encounters with a good-looking cow or two?

Sadie’s Walk

Denzil got up at the crack of dawn for this walk, so he deserves your appreciation :

GR571 Stage 4 : Trois-Ponts to Vielsam 

And getting me nicely in the mood for the Algarve- thanks a lot, Becky!   Your place or mine?

Exploring the Grande Rota do Guadiana

That’s it folks!  Thanks again for all the shares and for the pleasure you give me.  Take care of yourselves.

 

 

 

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!

Six word Saturday

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A Bench challenge and an orchid

A gentle day on the north east coast of England

A gentle day, on the north east coast of England.   My friends and I amble along, in search of a bench where we can sit for a while, admiring the view.

A good-looking bench but facing the wrong way

A good-looking bench, but facing the wrong way

This one might just be perfection

Ah, here it is!  Spotlit so we can’t miss it

It’s not a perfect day, but pleasant, in a very English way.  The kind of day when it’s good to be on a cliff top bench, gazing out to sea.  After a while we ease ourselves up and carry on.

The posts frame the bay beautifully

These posts frame the bay beautifully

At this time of year small orchids radiate out from the grass.  Careful not to tread on them, I kneel down for a closer look.  Pretty, aren’t they?

I'm astonished at the colour!

I’m astonished at the colour!

When our walk is done I carry on down to the small marina at Seaham, looking for a sheltered spot where I can read.  There must be a bench or two?

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This one might do- no back rest, though

But this one's much more fun, though maybe not so comfortable

This one’s much more fun, but maybe not very comfortable!

Careful not to upset Judge Jude by breaking any rules, I’ve been quite subtle with my post processing of Benches.  But I just had to give Lunapic one more whirl.  What do you think?  All of the images except for the last one were done in Ulead Photo Express, in quite an old version.

It’s Saturday again so it must be time to find your six words.  Pop along and share them with Cate at Show My Face.  Have a great weekend and I’ll see you on Monday for a walk.

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Panorama

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Just yesterday I looked at Paula’s Scheduled Challenges and thought, ‘I don’t have anything panoramic’.  Funny how life sometimes supplies what you need without even being asked.

The day dawned bright, beautiful and empty of plans.  A phone call later and I had walking company.  The coastline north of me is rugged, former mining territory.  The magnesium limestone rocks are steadily eroding and at low tide you can enter the resulting caves.  The shore is littered with reminders of the past, washed and washed beyond recognition.

Washed clear to the horizon

Washed clear to the horizon

Save for a gentleman and his dog

Save for a gentleman and his dog

From the confines of the caves

From within the confines of the caves

The rich colours of the stones beckon

The richly coloured stones beckon

Strewing the beach as far as the eye can see

Strewing the beach as far as the eye can see

Rough and ready jewels

Rough and ready jewels

Rinsed by the sea

Rinsed clean by the sea

It seems I had a ready made panorama all along!  Perhaps I’ll take you inside the caves next time. Now to see what kind of Panorama Paula has in store.  Whatever it is, I know it will be beautiful.

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Thursday’s Special : St. Mary’s Lighthouse

Looking down at the reception area

Looking down into reception

You might have thought I’d gone to Paris, but I couldn’t resist one more Thursday’s Special before I go.  Much earlier in the year I paid an evening visit to St. Mary’s Lighthouse and I’ve been itching to go back ever since.  Saturday afternoon, warm and sunny at home, seemed to present the perfect opportunity.  I could have lingered in the garden, but that lighthouse was beckoning.

All too often my north east coast fools me.  As we turned down the coast road to Whitley Bay, the skies darkened.  The beach was shrouded in mist, and none too warm.  The planned saunter became a scurry up the lighthouse steps, to keep warm!  As I approached the causeway I was rather surprised to see a wedding car coming towards me.  What a spot for wedding photos!  Alas, I was a little late for the photo shoot, but I did get to see the bride.

Hand in hand!  No- this isn't the bride and groom

Hand in hand on the rocks- no, this isn’t the bride and groom!

It looks a little bleak today

It looks a little bleak today

But it's a good-looking lighthouse

But it’s a good-looking lighthouse

With some interesting outbuildings

With some interesting outbuildings

The last time I had been inside was with a school party when my son was about 6 years old.  I was curious to see what, if anything, had changed in those 18 years.

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From the peeling condition of the walls, not a lot has changed!

From the peeling condition of the walls, not a lot has changed!

I wondered for a moment about the safety of climbing the stairs

I wondered for a moment about the safety of climbing those stairs

But there was only one way to find out!

But there was only one way to find out!

And I made it!

And I made it!

 

Got to go! Someone's waiting for me on the stairs

But I’ve got to go.  Someone’s waiting for me on the stairs

There’s something about a lighthouse, isn’t there?  Even though it’s not in the very best condition, I love that it still sits there in its incredible position.  The opening times necessarily vary, according to the tide, but in general it is open every day from May to September, and at weekends and school holidays in the winter.

Various events take place throughout the year.  The Ghost Stories Halloween Special on 31st October sounds like it will be a lot of fun. In addition to weddings, you can have a birthday party at St. Mary’s or even a Stranding Party at high tide!  I don’t know anybody who’s done that.  This link to their Facebook page will keep you up to date.

Let's share a bit of poetry, shall we?

Let’s share a bit of poetry, shall we?

And one last image

And one last warm image!

I hope your Thursday is special, too!  Many thanks to Paula, our lovely hostess.  Come with me and see what she’s been up to this week.  A bientôt!

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Jo’s Monday walk : A Saltburn stroll

Huntcliff Nab from the cliff top

Huntcliff Nab from the cliff top

I’m back on the north east coast of England for my walk today.  Saltburn-by-the-Sea may be familiar to some of you.  Anyone remember my yarn bombing post, on the pier last Summer?  The place really has so much charm.

But it can receive the full brunt of nature sometimes, when the North Sea comes thundering in.  I was there last week and repairs to the promenade were ongoing from the latest onslaught, just a few weeks ago.  Happily the Victorian Pier has resisted the storms so far.  The wind whips at the waves, but if you drop down into the Valley Gardens it’s a different world.

So, park up on the cliff top and admire the view above.  I’ve ordered sunshine but there’s always the chance of an April shower.  A choice of several footpaths take you down through the gardens but they all end up in the same place- some more steeply than others, so I’ll let you choose.

At Easter there’s a bustle of excitement because ‘Prince Charles’ is released from his winter hibernation and whistles his way through the gardens.  The miniature railway has been delighting Summer visitors for as long as I can remember.

The promenade leads directly to the pier

The promenade runs beneath the cliffs and past the pier

And you can walk out to the end

You can walk out to the end of the pier, if you like

And look back, if you like

And look back

Or you can carry on walking, if it's too cool

Or if it’s too cool, carry on walking

The pier has the usual entertainments, and there’s always a bag of chips to be eaten, out of the paper, as you’re strolling.  It’s a good way to keep your hands warm.

And a fine cliff top view

And a fine cliff top view

Pease was a local industrialist who had considerable impact on the way the town looks.  When Saltburn was just a green and pleasant valley he had a vision of the jewel it could be and set about fund raising to make it happen. This wasn’t too difficult as his father was wealthy and influential in the development of the Stockton to Darlington Railway.

The streets were constructed on a grid pattern with many of them running towards the sea, and named after precious jewels.  The buildings were faced with a white brick, locally made, with the name Pease engraved on them.  In prime position sat the Zetland Hotel- one of the world’s first railway hotels.

Marine Dri ve follows the cliff tops with beautiful views

Marine Drive follows the cliff tops, with lovely views out to sea

Until  you reach the iconic  cliff lift

Until you reach the iconic cliff lift with its stained glass windows

The distinctive housing on the cliff top

And the distinctive housing on the cliff top

Town map

Map of the town and Valley Gardens

The former 'Zetland Hotel' was the world's first railway hotel

The illustrious former ‘Zetland Hotel’

Just after the Zetland you cross over the road and find yourself back at your start point.  The whole will only take you an hour or so, but there are places you might want to linger.  If you arrive by train it’s just a 5 minute stroll downhill to Valley Gardens.

Two charming Victorians loiter by the Valley Gardens

Two charming Victorians, loitering by the Valley Gardens

This would make a perfect expedition for the Easter weekend.  It might even be fine enough to take a picnic?  Happy walking, everybody!

If you have a walk you’d like to share with me, I’d be so pleased to see it.  It can be as detailed or as simple as you like.  I really don’t mind.  I just love seeing new places.  Put a link in my comments, or link a post to me, any day you like.  I’ll have another walk for you next Monday.

I’m starting my shares this week with beautiful Lewes, in Sussex.  Many thanks, Sherri :

http://sherrimatthewsblog.com/2014/04/11/a-lingering-look-at-windows-and-a-walk-in-lewes-sussex/

http://diaryofaninternetnobody.com/2014/04/13/picture-this-springtime-by-the-river/

Dale got so enthusiastic, he’s given me a choice of two, so here’s the other :

http://diaryofaninternetnobody.com/2013/09/08/picture-this-return-to-watersmeet-valley-of-the-rocks/

http://shareandconnect.wordpress.com/2014/04/15/jos-monday-walk-a-countryside-walk/

http://ledrakenoir.wordpress.com/2014/04/15/a-walk-in-the-night/

http://smallbluegreenwords.wordpress.com/2014/04/16/a-stroll-around-ludlow-castle/