Saturday, 9 November 2013


Blyth → Newbiggin-by-the-Sea

the-couple.png Distance: 10.36 miles
Ascent: 130 metres
Duration: 3 hours 33 minutes

The Couple
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Some walks have a very definite character or theme. Others are disjointed, a collection of segments held together by their geography but not by their feel. This walk was very much one from the latter category: a connecting walk with moments of interest, but not one to appear on a list of favourites.

school-flytipping.pngOur opinion of Blyth dropped down a few notches this morning. Once beyond the harbour side and charming market square we walked the fringes of the town: dirty streets strewn with discarded fireworks and weeks' old fly-tipping, although even here a brand new primary school building testified to attempts at regeneration. A little further on, two stray dogs scampered past us on the frosty riverside path. This was not a place to linger.

cambois-horse.pngWe headed inland to cross the River Blyth, then again for the River Wansbeck. Between the two estuaries lies Cambois, a village clearly previously fed by industry, but whose industry is now all but gone. A group of horses were being groomed on the land behind the dunes, to the annoyance of the land owner who had served an "abandonment order" on them. As we left the village, a long coal train passed us, using the line that once served the village colliery but this time bringing in fuel that had been landed at the nearby port.

dangerous-cliffs.pngNewbiggin-by-the-Sea was our destination and the highlight of the walk. Out on a breakwater that protects the village's new beach from being washed away stands a sculpture called The Couple: two figures looking towards the horizon, their backs to the village but somehow still connected to it. It was moving and thought provoking.

woodhorn.pngAfter the walk we took a bus to the nearby mining museum at Woodhorn. Telling the story of the hundred-years that coal was mined in Northumberland, it set the scene wonderfully to help us interpret what we were seeing. (It was exactly the sort of museum we had hoped to find when we walked the Durham coast). As we returned to Newbiggin and caught sight of The Couple again, their countenance seemed to change: their backs may have been to the village, but their faces would be lit by the first light of the new day.

Notes for future walkers:

  • The Blyth and Wansbeck rivers can both be crossed on a pavement alongside the A189 dual carriageway. In both cases, go under the road first and climb up to the eastern side of the bridge.
  • On the north side of the Wansbeck, look out for a path that leads through scrub, then take the left at a path junction to reach the top of a flight of steps that will take you back down to the river.

Posted by pab at 16:56 | Comments will be back one day. Please email me instead!