South Shields

Jo’s Monday walk : Arbeia Roman Fort

Meeting friends for coffee in South Shields, nothing was further from my mind than a Roman Fort.  Remember Crossing the Tyne when I took you inside the National Centre for the Written Word?  It has a nice little cafe with a view (and strawberry and rhubarb cheesecake), and this particular day there were Monsters in the exhibition space.

It’s a good starting point for an amble south of the river and, once outside, my eyes lit up when I read on a signpost ‘Arbeia Roman Fort – 1 mile’.  Now that’s a destination you won’t find every day!  Farewells were bid.  I was on a mission.

The area was once a hive of industry, rich in pubs for slaking a good thirst.  A well placed mural brings it all back to life.

The Metro now runs across the High Street, a straggle of shops, pubs and restaurants with a few allusions to the past.

I almost missed the clue, but a left turn took me in the direction of the river, and a few minutes later I was staring at the reconstruction of the West Gate of a Roman fort.  Slightly incongruous, but impressive, in the midst of a South Shields housing estate.

Arbeia Roman Fort, standing above the entrance to the River Tyne, guarded the main route by sea to Hadrian’s Wall and was thus of great strategic importance to the Romans.  It was a key garrison and military supply base to other forts along the Wall.  It  surprised me to find that this reconstruction, on the exact site of the original fort of AD160, was recreated 30 years ago.

There are numerous information boards around the site and, within the West Gate, models of how the fort once looked and an Armoury.  You can climb to the turrets of the gate to look down upon the ruins, and north to the Tyne and Wallsend. (Segedunum in Roman times)

In addition to the West Gate there is a Commanding Officer’s house, partially rebuilt using some of the original floor and foundations.  It includes a palisade and summer dining room, with lovely frescoes on the walls.  The Barrack Block was built using traditional Roman techniques from the 3rd century.  Soldiers usually lived here, 8 to an apartment.

I was very lucky to get inside.  It was still pre-season, but a school party were paying a visit.  Excavations have been ongoing at the fort since the 1870s, with significant finds enabling us to piece together the life of a Roman soldier.  The website gives details of opening hours and how to get there.   It was a lovely afternoon as I headed down through the park to the mouth of the Tyne.  On the far shore, Tynemouth Priory and, looking south, far along the coast, distant Souter Lighthouse.  The day had not turned out at all as I expected.  Extraordinary, in fact.

I hope you enjoyed accompanying me along the Tyne.  Our heritage is fascinating, isn’t it?

Lots more walks to share this week, so pop the kettle on and have a good read.  Many thanks to all of you for keeping this going.  Join me any time.  Details are on my Jo’s Monday walk page.


How’s morning where you are?  Come and sit harbourside with me and Drake!

Idyllic maltese mornings

You really wouldn’t want to hurry if you could spend time in Bhutan, like Ann Christine :

Walking Home – Slow Contemplation

My mother always loved lupins and Lisa’s are in a lovely location :

Return to Lupin Hill

Marsha takes some rather odd walks, don’t you think?

What you Should Know about Alligators : Instructions at Gatorland

Kathrin’s post epitomises sunny California.  Spot the ‘hidden’ beach!

Point Lobos State Reserve

Let Dippy-Dotty Girl brighten your day.  I can promise you a smile :

A Day in Lund

Never a dull moment with Jesh, either.  Anyone identify the flowers?

Enjoying The Park

I may be giving away secrets, but I hope Emma won’t mind :

Walking the Gower Coast : Pwll Du and Hunts Bay

You’ll be ready for food after all that walking.  Where else but Jackie’s place?

Luscious Lemons

Save some for the ducks and swans, with Lady Lee :

Swan Lake

Time spent with Pauline and Jack is always interesting.  Check out their sketches :

Time in Tenterfield : Road trip day 3

And day 4 takes us adventuring with boulders :

Into the Mountains : Day 4 of the road trip

When a photographer finds me, I have to reciprocate.  Meet Avirup at Walk of Life :

Photowalk at Territy Bazar – Kolkata

A sad little place?  Take a stroll with Irene :

Never Ending Trail

Now, for something completely different, a walk with my favourite beaver.  And Carol, of course!

Into the Blue

And here’s Carol, all alone (well, not really because Glen will be about too) :

Taking a Break

Still on the beautiful Australian coast, a walk with Karen rounds us off :

La Perouse Headland Walk

No complaints this week.  The amelanchier is blooming beautifully in our garden, and any chance I get, I’m out there.  Wishing you a week full of sunshine and blossom.

Jo’s Monday walk : Crossing the Tyne

There’s nothing like a bracing walk on New Year’s Day to whisk away the cobwebs.  This one, in North Shields, is well nigh perfect.  It all began with Tammy, whose North Shields Heritage Trail I featured on my last Monday walk.  Shields is only about 40 minutes north of me, by car, and we usually get there via the Tyne Tunnel.  It had not occurred to me that we could get there by ferry.  What a mistake!

Yes- 700 years!  The Heritage Trail starts from the ferry point.  My husband remarked that he and his Dad had made the crossing a few times when he was a lad, but I’d never crossed the Tyne by ferry.  And here it was, pulling in!  Obviously, a slight diversion was called for.

Ferries of some description are estimated to have been crossing the Tyne since the 14th century.  Steam packets began operating between North and South Shields in 1816.  Later on, bridges were discussed, but it wasn’t until the Tyne Tunnel opened in 1967 that there was a real alternative.  Once a hubbub of activity, the river was peaceful that day.  Excitement came in the form of two huge, oil platform ‘legs’ being towed out to sea.

With half an hour between ferries when we docked, curiosity got the better of me.  Not being familiar with this area of South Shields, I was excited to discover the National Centre for the Written Word – a truly state of the art building.  A cultural venue with library and exhibition space, I became a child again in the world of Captain Pugwash.  The pirates had come to town.

Not only that, but there was an exceptionally nice strawberry and rhubarb cheesecake in the cafe.  Needless to say, me and the skeleton missed the next ferry.  Back at the terminal, the sign below puts our whereabouts in context, 3 miles from Jarrow and 8 from Sunderland.

The Heritage Trail boards are very informative and give a good sense of how life was lived when the docks here were a thriving industry, and during their decline.  I can’t begin to reproduce them all, but I can give you a flavour.

We traced them past former industrial buildings and modern emerging apartments, towards the Fish Quay.  The ‘Old Wooden Dolly’ will have a tale or two to tell.  She started life as the figurehead on a collier brig, which was attacked off the coast by a privateer in 1781.  Sailors regarded her as a good luck charm, and would cut off pieces of her to take to sea to keep them safe.

You can still get a good plate of fish and chips in these parts.  The fleet were obviously finished for the day, with nets spread, as we approached the quay.  The High Light, built in 1808, together with the Low Light down below, helped guide ships into a safe channel to enter the Tyne.  The water here looks deceptively calm but there are vicious rocks just around the headland at Tynemouth.

Fishing boats have been sailing from North Shields since 1225, when the Prior of Tynemouth granted locals the right to build 7 shiels (simple dwellings) and a quay, to improve fishing supplies and increase the wealth of the priory.  I wondered where the name Shields came from.

The sun is low in the sky already, at not much after 2pm.  Beside ‘The Smokehouses’ pub an extraordinary building catches my eye.

It looks as though it’s listing a little, all at sea.  And there, by the shore, the main reason I have come to North Shields today.  Do you remember the corten steel sculpture of Tommy at Seaham?  Fiddler’s Green is an equally mournful but brilliant piece of work, from the same sculptor, Ray Lonsdale.  A tribute to fishermen lost at sea, the last rays of sunshine settle on his stoic back.

The fisherman looks out to the remains of Clifford’s Fort with, beyond it, Tynemouth Priory, and on the far shore, South Shields.

At this point the Heritage Trail heads uphill, past the High Light.  In the 18th century the narrow strip of land beside the river became too overcrowded, and North Shields spread to the plateau 60 feet above.  The rich shipowners and businessmen occupied the higher ground while working people remained in Low Town.  Dockwray Square, a set of elegant townhouses, was built in 1763.  Unfortunately the drainage was poor and the area became less desirable.  Today it’s the site of a small park, containing a cheery statue of comedian Stan Laurel, who lived at no. 8 during his boyhood, from 1897 to 1902.

The Trail ends in New Town, where we meet another of our Wooden Dollies.  A surprise to me, this one, because it’s carved by Robert ‘Mouseman’ Thompson of Kilburn fame.  His signature mice are carved into the skirt and sleeve.  A visit to his gallery is included in this walk.

A cast of many characters, I’m sure you’ll agree, making me rather proud of my northern heritage.  I hope you enjoyed exploring the Shields with me as much as I enjoyed writing and researching this post.

I may be slow responding to comments this week, as I’m with Polish family in Norfolk.  It being New Year’s Day, you may well be slow to make any.  I hope you enjoyed your celebrations over the festive period, and there aren’t too many sore heads around.  Take your time over this week’s selection of walks and, if you like, join me next week at Jo’s Monday walk.  You’ll be very welcome.


Can I start by introducing you to Mel?  She has very grand plans for 2018 :

Under the Tuscan Sun – in Hiking Boots

I don’t really like snow, but in Tish’s hands it assumes a certain magic (but it still melts 🙂 )

Wenlock Snow Walk

Jackie’s ladling out the mulled wine to warm you up!

Mulling over Wine

If you’re quick, you’ll just catch this!  It sounds great so thanks, Denzil :

A magical evening with the kids

Or you could stop by Museu d’Orsay with Drake :

Little museum walk

Ann Christine shows us that Gran Canaria isn’t just beaches.  It’s beautiful!

What I came to this island for

Too far away from me, but I do love a lighthouse :

Semaphore Heritage Walk

Some exciting stuff from Nicole, hiking with her Dad :

At the Doorstep of the Andes : A Hike to El Morado Hanging Glacier

Woolly reminds us of the 24 hour truce for Christmas, in 1914 :

Jo’s-Monday-Walk-Wk47_Christmas Truce

I’ll end with somewhere close to my heart.  Don’t miss this, from Verne :

Ten days hiking the unknown side of Algarve

Time now to look ahead, and to wish you all a healthy, happy and fulfilling year.


Jo’s Monday walk : South Shields to Souter


Many of you seemed to enjoy my visit to the Tall Ships Regatta at Blyth last week, so I decided to stay on this same coastline for today’s walk.  South Shields is just a little way down the coast, and if you look closely at the photo above you might just make out a Tall Ship on the horizon.


I’ve brought her a little closer!  She was just hovering offshore, admiring the view.

As you can see it’s a rugged coastline, but the Blue Flag beach at South Shields is superb. We’ll start our walk from the car park behind the beach, along the new promenade.  In the distance Tynemouth Priory is just visible, across the river mouth.


Walking south, in the direction of Souter Lighthouse, the sand is lovely and firm beneath my feet.  At the end of the beach a path leads up to The Leas, and from there it’s 2.5 miles of coastal footpath to Souter Lighthouse.


I’m not going to talk much today.  I’ll simply let you enjoy the humps and bumps of scenery.  It’s a sight that always fills me with awe.


I was astounded when reading the information board in Frenchman’s Bay.  I knew, of course, that this area was once popular with smugglers.  What I didn’t realise was just how much coastal erosion had changed the landscape, and the timescale involved.  This bay was once sandy and wooden steps led down to the beach.  Long, long before that, these rocks were formed- 245 million years ago, when South Shields lay close to the Equator.

In the far distance I can make out Souter Lighthouse and Marsden Rock.  The Rock is a 30 metre high sea stack of magnesium limestone and periclase.  These days it’s only home to seabirds, though once it was joined to the land.  At this point I turn back.  I’ve visited Souter Lighthouse before, as the link will show, and I have a different goal in mind today.


I’m heading back towards the River Tyne and South Shields, and the mighty pier that stretches 1,570 metres out to sea.  I keep an eye on the Tall Ship, out at sea, and am delighted to find that my arrival coincides nicely with hers.  Tynemouth Priory, on the far shore, is beautiful in close up.


South Pier is an astonishing length and I’m entranced by the railway lines that once ran along it.  I would love to bombard you with statistics and information but I’m finding myself sadly short of time.  South Shields has a fascinating history and the Wikipedia link will give you all the facts you need.

It was a lovely day and we wandered into South Marine park, licking an icecream.  The boating lake and miniature steam train were busy, and I was pleased to see Shields thriving.   I know you’ll be gasping for a cuppa, and I can only apologise that this post is picture heavy, and not as factual as I would like.

walking logo

Thank you so much for the many and varied contributions I’ve received to my walks this week.  I struggle sometimes to keep up, but it’s always a joy to share with you.  Please join me, if you’d like.  Details are on my Jo’s Monday walk page.  Just click on the logo above.


Paula always knows how to make me happy :

Hell’s Mouth – Not so Hellish

Lady Lee knows a good-looking city when she sees one.  She’s lived in this one for 27 years!

A Day in Munich

Jackie does us proud this week with some fabulous murals :

Islington Village of Murals

And Cardinal treats us to the sight of his ass- suitably clothed, of course!

The Majestic Jotunheimen

Kathrin has heaps of sea glass to share, but you musn’t take it away from the beach :

Glass Beach, Fort Bragg

Check out what Liesbet gets up to mid-week?  Lovely sunsets and sideways houses!

Feeling the Bern in Burlington, VT- a Mid-week “Weekend Away”

Fancy a bit of teeter-tottering with Violet?  You’ve come to the right place!

Heritage Village

Drake has us stepping back into the past too.  Always with a smile :

Just around my corner

Stained glass fans?  Step right this way!  BiTi has some beauties :

La Couvertoirade Village

Spectacular walking with Cathy this week.  16,453 steps in total, but you do get to stop for lunch!

Iceland’s Golden Circle : Gulfoss and Geysir

Yvette is content to share the simple wonders of the beach.  Timeless images and wiggly ones!

Simple Things at the Beach 

Susan gives a very personal take on her impressions of Berlin :

Walking Berlin, Germany

I simply had to steal this one away from Meg!  I know this palace, but had no idea of its splendours :

Palace on the island

And I know that Meg will approve Susan’s architectural details too :

Art in the details : Looking up in the Financial District

That’s it folks!  Hope you enjoyed it, and that you have a happy week ahead.  See you soon!

Six word Saturday


‘You’ve been framed’ in South Shields!

Another glorious day in the north east of England.  Looking out from the promenade you can see Tynemouth Priory in the distance, caught in the frame.  The Tall Ships have arrived in Blyth, just a little further up the coast.  Exciting times!

Here in the UK it looks like it could be a sunny Bank Holiday weekend.   Have a good one, everybody!  Sharing my six words with Cate and the Daily Post challenge.