247. North Shieds to Blyth

October 2014

My last walk ended at the ferry at South Shields. This time I decided to resume at North Shields at the northern point where the ferry crossed. There seemed little point in taking the ferry just for the sake of it, as I’d not be walking that part of the coast anyway (I can’t walk on water!).

For this trip I was making a long weekend of it and would be spending two nights in the glamorous location of the Travelodge, Berwick-upon-Tweed where I had booked two nights for the grand total of £52. I had to book quite a way in advance to get a good price like this. Unfortunately because of this I had booked my hotel before cheap “Advance” train tickets became available to book. By the time these tickets were available to book there was a reduced service north of Newcastle (due to engineering works) with most trains from London terminating at Newcastle and the costs of taking the train to Berwick-upon-Tweed were very high.

I did a bit of re-planning and decided that I would instead travel up to Newcastle rather than Berwick-upon-Tweed instead on the first day of my trip (Saturday) where there were far more trains running and so prices were better. Then I’d do a walk along this part of the coast. Then later in the day I’d take another train from Newcastle to Berwick-upon-Tweed when prices were more reasonable, then spend the other two days further north.

So I booked a train ticket from London to Newcastle on the 9am train for £15. I wanted to book the 8am train but for some reason the costs for the earlier train were much higher (usually, it is the other way around), so I settled for 9am. Then I booked another train ticket from Newcastle to Berwick-upon-Tweed on the 18:35 train, for use at the end of the walk so I could get to my hotel. This second ticket cost me £12.40  – almost as much as it had cost me to get all the way from London. Then on the way home 3 days later (when the engineering works had ended) I’d booked a ticket from Berwick-upon-Tweed to London which cost me precisely £0 (I’ll explain how this was possible when I write up that walk). So all in all I had managed to get a good deal, even if it had complicated my plans!

I took a train from my local station to London Waterloo, two tube trains to get between Waterloo and Kings Cross and then a train from London Kings Cross to Newcastle. I had booked a seat in the “quiet coach” (which wasn’t very quiet). As we approached Newcastle the guard announced we were shortly arriving into Newcastle “on-time”, whereupon the train stopped just outside the station for 10 minutes and so arrived 10 minutes late! Oh well, at least it was not a long delay.

From Newcastle station I descended into the metro and bought a ticket to North Shields and then took the metro to North Shields. This was a pleasant journey and soon I was alighting at North Shields, though by now it was around 12:30pm, quite a late start.

From the Metro station I followed the roads a short distance down to the North Shields Ferry terminal to resume my walk from the point I’d have reached if I had used the ferry. I got there just as the ferry was arriving and also just as the rain was starting (the latter was a bit of a disappointment).

Tyne Ferry at North Shields

Tyne Ferry at North Shields

From the ferry I turned right along the road passing a rather grand looking pub (which according to Google since I did this walk is no longer a pub and now an architects office!).

North Shields

Looking back, the road was lined with some more quite grand Georgian looking buildings. The area was considerably more pleasant than I had expected.

North Shields

I continued along the road north (Clive Street) passing a small and now disused dock surrounded by flats. Beyond this the buildings to my right had ended and now I had a view along the open dock area beside the Tyne, where there was a military looking boat moored up. As I got closed I could see that it had a Union Jack painted on it alongside the text “Searcher”. I wondered what it was that it searched for.

North Shields

After the open dock I was passing the Fish Quay with the old sheds to my right and the dock beyond. On my left were more traditional shops one of which boasted “Real Bulk Butter Sold Here”, which seemed and odd things to be boasting about!

Fish Quay, North Shields

Within the dock was an unusual tower was an unusual square tower that is the Fish Quay Low Lighthouse (unusually it is square rather than round).

Fish Quay Lighthouse at North Shields

Beyond this the coast had changed from working to leisure, as there was now a small sandy beach ahead and out to sea I could now see the outer sea walls at the mouth of the Tyne again.

The Tyne at Tynemouth

This was quite a pleasant area, the beach marked as “The Flats” on the map but backed by wooded and grassy cliffs. I followed the low promenade path right behind the beach soon passing a statue on the cliff top, the Collingwood Monument.

Monument, Tynemouth

At the end of the beach my path headed up the hill to the grassy hill beyond and now I had reached Tynemouth. Before I had walked this area I knew little about Tynemouth but from the name suspected it might be quite industrial. In fact I had seen on my previous walk the ruined Priory and now I was much closer to it, and it looked lovely. It reminded me a little of Whitby. Unfortunately, I was photo-bombed by Mr Whippy!

Tynemouth Castle and Priory

Rounding the little headland I had a small beach ahead and then the large ruins of the Priory on the cliffs behind it.

Tynemouth Castle and Priory

Next to it was the castle, which looked to be largely complete.

Tynemouth Castle and Priory

It was a taste of things to come on the Northumberland coast (of which Tynemouth was once a part), which is littered with castles!

Prior's Haven, Tynemouth

I made my way down to and behind the beach just below the abbey. Here I could see the North Pier ahead at the mouth of the Tyne.

North Pier, Tynemouth

However the lower path I had been following ended here (I didn’t know this until I got there), so I had to re-trace my steps back below the Abbey ruins and join the road beside it instead.

North Pier, Tynemouth

This climbed and soon I had wonderful views of the ruined Abbey and castle and came to the entrance.

Tynemouth Castle

It was a regret that I didn’t go inside. I really should have made time to visit as it looked wonderful but sadly when I planned this walk I hadn’t allowed time to do it and I didn’t want to re-plan, so I had to give it a miss this time.

(As an aside this year I have been walking parts of the Offa’s Dyke Path with the intention of completing it meaning when I do I’ll have walked all around Wales, or close enough. Next year I plant to walk the Hadrians Wall path so I can say the same for England. When I do that it finishes at Wallsend, which is close by and I plan to make time on that day to go and visit Tynemouth again and visit the Abbey and Castle this time. Hopefully I’ll manage it this time).

Looking inland I had a view along the main shopping street, which also looked quite nice.

 

Tynemouth

Continuing north I had soon passed the headland with the ruined Abbey and Castle on it and now had the beach below me at King Edwards Bay. This was quite a pleasant looking beach but it being autumn there were few people on it (but at least the rain had stopped now).

King Edward's Bay, Tynemouth

It was rather a grand setting with this fine beach and the ruins of the Abbey towering over it, it was very photogenic.

King Edward's Bay, Tynemouth

King Edward's Bay, Tynemouth

It was only a short beach and soon I rounded the next little headland (on the pavement beside the road), Sharpness Point, which gave me a fine view.

Tynemouth Beach

This is the main beach at Tynemouth. It’s quite long and sandy as you can see and so it’s given the name “Long Sands”. I can see why!

It was quite pretty and reminded me a bit of beaches in Cornwall. Below me was a very sad-looking outdoor swimming pool that had obviously not been used for some considerable time, being now mostly full of sand and rocks and with rusting railings around it.

Derelict swimming pool, Tynemouth

Steps led down from the road to a promenade at the back of the beach, so I followed this to be closer to the sea.

Tynemouth Beach

Soon I left this too to get even closer to the sea and walk along the sands. Near the north end of this beach there was a church on the cliff top, which must have a fine view over the beach.

Tynemouth Beach

Tynemouth Beach

This marked the end of the beach so I headed back up a sloping path to the cliff top.

Tynemouth Beach

I headed through some pleasant gardens to the next beach, Cullercoats Bay. This is a narrow U-shaped bay with harbour walls almost joining either end of the bay presumably making it now very sheltered.

Cullercoats Bay

Cullercoats Bay

I followed the road high up above this pretty bay.

Cullercoats Bay

Cullercoats Bay

At the far end was a very grand shelter with this clock tower. It was a lovely little bay.

Cullercoats Bay

I now followed a tarmac cliff path along the cliff top to another smaller bay with a very rocky beach.

Cullercoats Bay

Rounding the corner I reached the next beach, Browns Bay. It was rocky with no beach to speak of.

Brown's Bay, Whitley Bay

I now turned left with the road into the next bay, Whitley Bay, certainly a place I have heard of. I think along with South Shields, these are the two most popular beaches in Tyne and Wear. The tide seemed quite high however and the first part of the beach was mostly pebble and shingle.

Whitley Bay

However a bit further along it became sand and so I was able to head down on a slipway to the beach.

Whitley Bay

It was nice to be back on the firm sand of the beach and away from the road.

Whitley Bay

Looking inland from the beach I could see a building with a large white dome inland, which looked rather run-down (it has since been restored) and is known as the Spanish City Dome.

Spanish City, Whitley Bay

This opened in 1910 as a concert hall. It was closed to the public in the early 2000s but was re-opened after re-generation in 2018.

I continued north along this fine beach and ahead I could soon see the iconic St Mary’s Island ahead.

Whitley Bay

This seems to be one of those places that you see photographed all over the place. I’ve often seen photographs of it in photography magazines and in exhibitions. As if to prove the point, just this last weekend I was taking a train from London to Leeds. On using the toilet on the train I noticed the walls of the toilet cubicle had been decorated with a print of this lighthouse and island!

The weather was improving too with now a bit of sun visible over the island. I was looking forward to reaching it and hoped the tide would be out far enough by then I could walk out to it (as it is a tidal island, connected by a causeway).

Whitley Bay

Whitley Bay

As I headed along the beach the houses of Whitley Bay ended and the beach became more rural. I was nearing the end of not just Whitley bay, but also Tyne and Wear.

St Mary's Island, Whitley Bay

Low cliffs were forming at the end of the beach so I opted to take a path off the beach and follow the cliff top path ahead, as I was not sure if you could get off the beach at the far end. This soon headed alongside a large car park and then on the coast side of a golf course. At the far end the path descended down to a low promenade below the low cliffs.

St Mary's Island, Whitley Bay

I followed this around the corner, the beach having now become rocks rather than sand.

The coast south of Curry Point

Soon I was rounding the corner and looking ahead to this beautiful little island. I had been looking forward to seeing this for some time, having seen so many photos of it. I was delighted to find that the causeway path over to it was clear of the water, so I could walk out to this tidal island.

St Mary's Island, Whitley Bay

So I did just that. Sadly the visitor centre was not open so I was not able to visit the lighthouse (I think it is possible to go to the top) so I had to make do with looking around the outside.

St Mary's Island, Whitley Bay

In fact this island consists of not much more than the lighthouse. There is the lighthouse and the associated cottage next to it, one other large house just in front of it and that is about the whole island! It does not take long to explore.

St Mary's Island, Whitley Bay

St Mary's Island, Whitley Bay

The Northumberland Coast from St Mary's Island, Whitley Bay

Having ticked another island off too I returned along the causeway and back to the coast path. This continued right along the cliff top which gave me fine views back to the island.

St Mary's Island, Whitley Bay

As I neared Hartley there was a small sandy beach visible at the base of the cliffs and the path itself soon entered a small car park at Hartley.

The beach at Hartley

This is the first place in modern day Northumberland, meaning I had now completed the coast of Tyne and Wear (if you count that as a county, historically County Durham ended at the south side of the Tyne and Northumberland began at the north side of the Tyne, so in historical terms I had been in Northumberland for the whole walk).

The weather had improved considerably now too and it was now a pleasant sunny late afternoon. I continued through the car park and passed a caravan park and then back onto a good cliff top path around the rocky bay of Collywell Bay.

Collywell Bay

After a while the path ended and I joined the pavement beside the cliff top road around the top of this bay.

Collywell Bay

Collywell Bay

At the end of the bay I had the most wonderful view.

Sleaton Sluice

There was a beautiful little harbour lined with grass-topped cliffs and beyond it a gorgeous sandy beach stretching almost as far as the eye could see. It looked wonderful in the late afternoon sunshine. The harbour is the mouth of the Seaton Burn.

Sleaton Sluice

I had to get around this harbour but thankfully only have to head a short distance inland because the A193 crosses it on a bridge a short distance ahead, you can see the bridge in the photo below.

Sleaton Sluice

I crossed the harbour via this road and then turned right back to the cliff tops overlooking this gorgeous beach.

Sleaton Sluice

Sleaton Sluice

The south part of the beach seems to be known as Hartley Links, whilst the north part of the beach is South Beach (perhaps rather confusingly), because it is the southern of the two beaches in Blyth.

Hartley Links beach at Sleaton Sluice

I soon headed down onto the beach itself and it was just as nice as it looked (though I could see the industry and smoke of Blyth visible at it’s north end).

Hartley Links beach at Sleaton Sluice

Seaton Sluice

Time was getting on now so I had to walk quite quickly (and it was also nearing sunset). I needed to catch a bus from Blyth back to Newcastle in time in order to make the train I had booked to get me to Berwick-upon-Tweed (if I missed it, I would have to buy a new ticket).

Hartley Links beach

This was a lovely beach and made for an easy walk. It was very relaxing to be down on this beach in the lovely late afternoon sun, with few people around.

Hartley Links beach

Hartley Links beach

Ahead however the sky was blackening and I could see showers ahead, so I had to make the most of it!

South Beach, Blyth

Nearing the end of the beach it began to be lined with wooden groynes. These were low enough I could step over them and some of them had seen better days!

South Beach, Blyth

South Beach, Blyth

South Beach, Blyth

I was also seeing coal dust on the beachs again, perhaps a sign I was nearing an industrial area again (Blyth).

South Beach, Blyth

Despite the industry in the town the south beach was still nice with a few beach huts visible on the promenade to my left.

South Beach, Blyth

As I neared the end of the beach the showers I could see ahead reached me, so I had to put my camera away.

South Beach, Blyth

I left the beach just after the band stand, as the industrial docks were ahead. So I turned inland along the short road to the B1329 and walked along this beside the docks to my right, now all behind fences and out of bounds to the public. I had walked quickly partly because it was ugly and partly because I was worried about missing the bus I needed to catch.

Soon the docks on my right ended to be replaced with a pleasant park, Ridley Park. So I headed into this instead, it was a more pleasant route than the road I had been on and closer to the coast (with the docks just behind it). At the end of the park I turned right into East Park View, the closest road to the coast. This became Quay Road and I could follow this ahead to reach the shore again. I then followed this as far as the Blyth Community Enterprise Centre (what a mouthful). Here I turned left along Quay Road to Bridge Street where the bus station was marked on my map.

When I reached it, it wasn’t really a bus station as such, more a number of bus stops dotted around a rather square with the bus garage alongside it. As I reached here I saw the bus I wanted to catch which was already boarding it. I made it with only about 30 seconds to spare before it left! (Sadly although the railway line runs along the western edge of Blyth, the station was closed in the 1960s, so the train was not an option). I took the bus as far as Haymarket Bus station. Two bus stations were marked on the map of Newcastle and I wasn’t sure which one this was on the map. Thankfully it is also served by a metro station (Haymarket) So I headed down into the metro and took it a couple of stops to Central Station, to save me having to navigate an unfamiliar city centre on foot when pressed for time.

I made it in time to catch my train and from there I took the train I had booked up to Berwick-upon-Tweed. This is a beautiful rail journey as the line hugs the coast for much of the way offering wonderful views. The train was very crowded because I think the works being done meant only diesel trains could run north of Newcastle and so it was mostly only Cross-Country trains running north of Newcastle (whose trains have only 4 carriages, not enough in normal conditions, let along when most other trains are not running!). Thankfully as I had booked in advance, I had a seat reservation so I could sit down the whole way (unlike some others that had to stand).

From Berwick-upon-Tweed it was then nearly a mile walk to my hotel (the downside of booking a cheap hotel, it was not in the centre, though Berwick is not that big). Although cheap my room was a good size and perfectly pleasant.

It had been a wonderful walk today. The coast of Tyne and Wear is much nicer than I had anticipated. I passed some lovely beaches at Whitley Bay and then the beautiful tidal island of St Mary’s Island, that I was pleased to have been able to visit. However the highlight was the last beautiful beach leading to Blyth, which was wonderful. The only negative was Blyth itself which did not seem like a particularly nice town to me and was quite industrial. However most of the walk was wonderful and I was glad the weather had improved so that I could see it in the wonderful low autumn sunshine. It had also been another landmark as I had crossed into another county, Northumberland – and that’s the last county in England on the east coast.

Here are details of the public transport needed for this walk. It is suggested to take bus X10 or X11 below to Haymarket Bus Station in Newcastle and then the metro to North Shields.

Arriva bus service X10 and X11 : Blyth – Newsham – Parkside – Cramlington – Southfield – Gosforth Regent Centre StationNewcastle-upon-Tyne (Haymarket Bus Station). Between 3 and 6 times an hour Monday – Saturday. Twice an hour on Sundays. It takes around 45 minutes between Blyth and Regent Centre station and an hour between Blyth and around 55 minutes between Blyth and Newcastle.

The Tyne and Wear Metro departs from Haymarket station (by the bus station in Newcastle) to North Shields around 6 times an hour Monday – Saturday and 4 times an hour on Sundays and takes around 30 minutes.

Here are the complete set of photos for this walk : Main Link

This entry was posted in Northumberland, Tyne and Wear and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to 247. North Shieds to Blyth

  1. Very nostalgic again! We often went to Whitley Bay. The Spanish City was a funfair in those days.

    • jcombe says:

      Glad you enjoyed it and it bought back a few memories! Thanks for the information about the Spanish City, it seems it’s had a few different uses over the years.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s