250. Alnmouth to Amble

July 2008

This walk was quite short because south from Alnmouth the only place of any size I go through are Warkworth and Amble and beyond Amble it is too far to Cresswell (about 10 miles), so I made this quite a short walk. It was a lovely walk along a beautiful stretch of coast, despite the poor weather.

I was doing this walk as a day trip from home. This is because Alnmouth has a station close by and despite being a small place it is unusually served by direct trains from London on the main line between London and Edinburgh. I booked a single ticket from London to Alnmouth for £13 and a return from Newcastle for £11.50 which I though was a good deal (but remember, this was 11 years ago now – tickets are not so cheap now).

I took a train from my local station to London Waterloo, two tube trains to London Kings Cross and then the 8am train from London to Alnmouth station where I arrived at 11:34. After York I enjoyed the train journey, with views of the minster at York, the castle and cathedral at Durham and the Tyne and it’s many bridges as Newcastle, followed by the wonderful views of the coast at Alnmouth as the train approached the station there.

The first point to note is that Alnmouth station isn’t in Alnmouth. It’s in the village of Hipsburn and around 1 mile from Alnmouth village and in fact named “Alnmouth for Alnwick” according to the station signs as it was once the junction for the now-closed branch line to Alnwick (which you now have to reach by bus instead). So I had a short walk to get to the coast (and coast path).

I headed up from the station to the road at Hipsburn and then turned left along it. Hipsburn was not an especially interesting or attractive place just houses really. Several of which had notices telling people that the road outside was not the station car park (the station does have a car park too, and it’s free, so I can only presume it fills up and people park on the public road nearby which of course is perfectly legal, even if it does annoy the residents).

I headed down the hill to the roundabout and continue ahead on the B1338, the main road to Alnmouth. Soon I had reached the end of Hipsburn and now had open fields on either side of the road, but thankfully the road still had a pavement. The weather forecast for the day was to be overcast but dry in the morning, with rain from late afternoon, so it was disappointing that I began to feel a few drops of rain as I walked along the road. A short distance along the road I could turn off it on the Northumberland Coast path along a tarmac cycle path.

The coast near Alnmouth

This soon turned right, back towards the A1068. Before it did so I could at least get a view of the mouth of the river Aln which opens out to a small estuary as it reaches the coast at Alnmouth.

Alnmouth

Alnmouth

Once the path was by the A1068 it thankfully ran on a path parallel with the road, rather than alongside it so although near the traffic at least I wasn’t getting in it’s way.

The path and road were a little higher than the coast giving me views down to the beautiful village of Alnmouth which I’d actually reach on my next walk. The road here was very close to the railway line too, so the view was very similar to the one I had from the train on the way here, too.

Alnmouth

Alnmouth looked to be a lovely village and it was a shame that on this walk I’d only be viewing it from a distance.

After about a mile along this track I had reached the south end of the estuary at Alnmouth and so the coast path turned left along another track heading back to the sea. Although marked as a bridleway on the map the path was also being used by cars that park up at the back of the dunes, for access to the beach, so it was a road really. Soon I reached these dunes and made my way through the dunes to the sea. Officially, the coast path continues along the track at the back of the dunes, out of sight of the sea, but I knew from the map this was a sandy beach, so I preferred to walk on the beach instead.

The coast south of Alnmouth

On reaching the beach it was exactly as I hoped, a lovely unspoilt sandy beach and I was pleased to see that the tide was out, so there was plenty of sand for me to walk on and it was nice to be back beside the waves rather than behind the beach in the dunes.

The coast south of Alnmouth

The coast south of Alnmouth

I followed the beach for around a mile after which it began to get a bit rocky at Birling Carrs (which seems to be primarily a caravan park).

The coast south of Alnmouth

The coast south of Alnmouth

However the tide was far enough out I didn’t have to leave the beach and could make my way around and between the rocks. Some of the rocks seemed to form natural steps.

The coast south of Alnmouth

The coast south of Alnmouth

The coast south of Alnmouth

The coast south of Alnmouth

Once around these rocks it was back to a wide open beach and I was able to continue along the open sands.

The coast south of Alnmouth

Now over to my left I could see Coquet Island whilst ahead I could see the north pier of the next river, the river Coquet which reaches the sea at Amble.

The coast north of Amble

This river forms another small estuary and so about a mile before the river reaches the sea, the coast path turns inland to get past part of this estuary. I considered walking the dead-end down to the breakwater and back but decided in the end to stick with the official coast path and make my way immediately inland.

The coast north of Amble

The coast north of Amble

The path I was following was now heading for the village of Warkworth which is the lowest point at which you can cross the river Coquet without a boat! The path was again mostly a tarmac drive that served a car park and a caravan park, which made for easy walking albeit not entirely traffic free.

I passed a field of wild flowers, many of them poppies which offered wonderful views over to Warkworth.

Warkworth Castle

I could see that it had an impressive castle (I was later to find most towns and villages on the Northumberland coast have a castle). It looked very pretty.

Soon I reached the bridge over the river. Well to be pedantic I reached the two bridges over the river! The reason for this is there is an original medieval bridge over the river here. However it is very narrow and just wide enough for a car, but certainly not wide enough for two cars to pass, or for lorries and other large vehicles. So a new road bridge has been built alongside which now carries the route of the A1068 (which is a trunk road at this point). So the medieval bridge is open only to pedestrians now, rather than motorised vehicles.

However I used the old bridge to cross.

The River Coquet in Warkworth

The River Coquet in Warkworth

Most of the original gate house was still present.

Warkworth Bridge

Looking up the road, Warkworth looked to be a very attractive village.

Warkworth Castle

However my route onward, with the Northumberland Coast path was to turn right on a pleasant riverside path which soon gave me a fine view back to the bridge.

Warkworth Bridge

After passing the church the path turned left into the main square and up the main street through the village, which was lined with sand-stone coloured buildings that were quite similar to those seen in the Cotswolds.

Warkworth

Warkworth

The road climbed up a gentle hill at the top of which was the impressive Warkworth Castle.

Warkworth

This was built in the 12th Century. It is still mostly complete now and in the care of English Heritage.

Warkworth Castle

I was very tempted to look inside (there is an admission charge) but reluctantly made do with a look around the outside.

Warkworth Castle

Warkworth Castle

Warkworth Castle

Warkworth Castle

This was because the earlier drizzle had now turned to light rain (as you may have seen from the rain spots visible on some of the photos). I knew it was forecast to get heavier and so I was worried if I delayed by visiting the castle I’d have to do the next stretch in the pouring rain which would not be much fun given it is right beside the A1086, so I’d also get splashed from passing vehicles.

So having walked around the outside of the castle I headed back to the main road through Warkworth. Soon I had reached the end of Warkworth but unfortunately, the path continues on the pavement beside the road. At least there is a pavement, I suppose, but it would be even better to be away from traffic.

Over to my left I now have fine views of the river Coquet, already noticeably wider than when I crossed it on the other side of Warkworth.

The River Coquet near Warkworth

Looking back you can really see how the impressive castle dominates the town.

Warkworth

Soon I can see the town of Amble ahead, with the harbour and boats moored at the mouth of the estuary.

The river Coquet near Amble

The river Coquet at Amble

Interestingly to me the harbour in Amble is actually called Warkworth Harbour – I guess Warkworth must have been the older and more important settlement.

The river Coquet at Amble

Although the river is now quite wide it’s clearly near low tide as much of the water has disappeared from the river, leaving extensive mud flats on either side.

As the road turns inland I can leave it behind as the coast path continues on a path right beside the river. This leads me to the marina at the edge of the town.

The marina at Amble

The boats are all leisure orientated now and the moorings all look to be in use.

Beyond the marina I briefly follow the roads and come to what I suspect is the original harbour, this one with higher walls and closer to the mouth of the river. It was probably once very busy, but it’s almost entirely deserted now.

Amble Harbour

Continuing beyond the south jetty at the mouth of the harbour, there is a small sandy beach beyond.

The beach at Amble

Amble harbour

Sadly the weather is really closing in now and the rain has become heavy. I struggle even to take photographs as the rain gets on the lens so quickly. Out to sea I can just make out Coquet island, but it is rapidly disappearing into the mists caused by the rain.

Coquet Island

I continue to the south edge of the beach (where I got to last time) but it really is wet now and I can’t really take any photos looking into the wind any more because the rain collects so quickly on the lens I just end up with a blurry mess.

The coast at Amble

The coast looking north at Amble

I have reached Amble. As I mentioned earlier it is too far to continue to the next place along the coast I can catch a bus (Cresswell, which I hadn’t walked to at the time I did this walk), which is around 10 miles further south. So I end the walk at Amble. I had intended to do this but had hoped if the weather was nice I might spend some time on the beach, or walk a bit “up and back” along the coast or perhaps head back to Warkworth and visit the castle.

However the weather is now very heavy rain, which looks set to last the rest of the day. It is windy and exposed on the coast and I decided to abandon any further plans in the area. I have to travel home from Newcastle. So I decide I might as well get a bus into Newcastle and spend the rest of the afternoon exploring Newcastle, somewhere I’ve not really visited before.

So that is what I do. I quickly realise it was the right decision. The roads are soon so sodden the bus kicks up huge amounts of water and spray, in great whooshes. The windows soon steam up so I can’t see much outside, apart from the rain. It takes quite a while, more than an hour, to reach Newcastle but at least the bus is warm and dry and I can dry out. I get off at the main bus station. The bus also stops at “Regent Centre” metro station on the way and my original plan was to use this and take the metro onto the central station as it will be faster and takes me directly there. Now as I had time I stayed on the bus to Newcastle city centre, and I’ve ended up at Haymarket Bus Station. My first task is to locate the railway station, so I know how long I have before I catch my train.

Having done that I explored the city centre. The main shopping area itself is far prettier than I had imagined.

Newcastle

Newcastle

Wide streets (mostly pedestrianised) lined with impressive stone buildings .

Newcastle

It reminds me a bit of Bath and is almost as pretty. I hadn’t expected it to be so nice. It was grand and impressive.

Newcastle

Having explored the city centre I headed down to the riverside area. This too impresses. I don’t think I can remember anywhere where I’ve seen quite so many bridges in quite such close proximity and of such wildly different designs.

The Tyne Bridge, Newcastle

The famous Tyne bridge of course, which looks a bit like the bridge in Syndey but also the rail bridge, metro bridge, the lower level swing bridge and the new “blinking eye” pedestrian bridge (officially Gateshead Millennium Bridge).

The Gateshead Millenium Bridge

The Gateshead Millenium Bridge

Across the river is the unusual Sage Centre. I’m not usually a fan of modern architecture, but I like this largely because it is so different and it seems to have no straight lines.

The Sage Centre, Gateshead

Much of the heritage survives too with the Baltic Flower Mill on the Gateshead side of the river, now beautifully restored.

The Baltic Flour Mill, Gateshead

Overall Newcastle was more interesting and more pleasant than I had imagined. I stopped for a drink in one of the riverside pubs and then made my way back to the station, the rain still coming down. From here I took the train back to London (which was late and full of noisy and drunken football fans) and then the tube onwards to London Waterloo for a train home.

Overall this was a lovely stretch of coast with much of interest. The beaches were beautiful and largely deserted and the towns and villages I had passed through were also very attractive. It was only a shame the weather was so poor, particularly for the latter part of the walk, as I didn’t feel I had seen it at it’s best.

Here are details of the public transport needed for this walk. There are two possible bus routes to use, as detailed below.

Arriva bus route X20 : Newcastle (Haymarket Bus Station) – Regent Centre (Metro) – North Seaton – Ashington (Bus Station) – Wansbeck Hospital – Lynemouth – Ellington – Widdrington Station – Red Row – Hadstone – AmbleWarkworthAlnmouth Station – Alnwick. Hourly Monday – Saturday. No service on Sunday. It takes around 15 minutes to travel between Amble and Alnmouth Station.

Arriva bus route X18 : Newcastle (Haymarket Bus Station) – Regent Centre (Metro) – Morpeth – Pegswood – Widdrington Station – Red Row – Broomhill – Amble – Warkworth – Alnmouth – Alnmouth Station (only some buses) – Alnwick – Boulmer – Longhoughton – Craster – Embleton – Beadnell – Seahouses – North Sunderland – Bamburgh – Budle Bay – Belford – Beal – Haggerston – Scremerston – Berwick-upon-Tweed. Monday – Saturday the bus is broadly hourly between Newcastle and Alnwick. North of Alnwick not all buses run all the way through, check the timetable for details. Note that Monday – Saturday Alnmouth Station is only served by buses during the evening (they skip this stop at other times of the day), but they do serve Alnmouth village itself. On Sundays the service is hourly between Newcastle and Alnwick, with 3 buses north of Alnwick each way. In addition on Sundays, all buses do stop at Alnmouth station.

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

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1 Response to 250. Alnmouth to Amble

  1. I’m glad you liked Newcastle – another of my former home towns.

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