A naked blue sky and the mere whisper of a breeze. High pressure loitering over Britain, an ‘Indian Summer’ of sorts and the perfect weather for a trip up the coast.
We had no particular plan, simply a day to enjoy the remnants of the month along Northumberland’s golden edge. So we set our sights on Alnmouth, picture postcard perfect and slap bang in the middle of an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. But first Amble, last visited many years ago and by all accounts now enjoying something of a renaissance. Lying at the mouth of the River Coquet and commonly known as ‘the friendliest port’, the town is dominated by the impressive marina and its innovative harbour village, the ideal spot for an al fresco cappuccino and a slice of lemon drizzle cake – delicious beneath the midday sun.
Next, time to kick-start the legs so off we drove to Alnmouth, home to England’s oldest nine hole links golf course and a magnet for tourists. Once parked we wandered northwards, a huge sky and a distant low tide, acres of sand stretching as far as the eye could see. A series of timber groynes and then Marden Rocks, huge black boulders, smooth as beeswax, and a single curlew’s call. Here in August 1928 the Clyde-built steamship S.S. Monaleen was swept onto the rocks in gale force winds and eventually split in half. Now it was as quiet as a country churchyard.
On along the beach, above us and out of sight was Foxton Hall golf course and then Seaton Point, popular with anglers and an eclectic collection of beach huts and static caravans. We weaved our way through a maze of bracken-fringed footpaths, the route of St. Oswald’s Way and the 103 kilometre long Northumberland Coastal Path, and onto Boulmer, a natural harbour and one of the last traditional fishing villages in Northumberland. A Sea King helicopter, distinctive in yellow, flew overhead, the final day of search and rescue operations from the nearby base – the sad end of a glorious era.
The tide was on the turn, time now to retrace our footsteps back to Alnmouth, a race against the incoming sea. Once past Marden Rocks and a single motionless grey heron we were high and dry with only an easy stroll back to the car. No need to hurry. In the distance, hazy on the horizon, tiny Coquet Island haven to an array of bird life: puffin, rosette tern, kittiwake, fulmar, arctic tern, sandwich tern and eider duck – the ultimate twitchers paradise.
A sublime sky and the River Aln slipping into the glittering sea, the Northumberland coast was at its most magnificent. We were not yet ready for the day to end. Then, as if from a magician’s hat, an idea, simple enough, a meal at the nearby Hog’s Head Inn, echoes of Harry Potter and Aberforth Dumbledore. And so, with our tastebuds tingling in anticipation, we headed fleet-footed to Alnwick, ready to sample the Inn’s highly recommended scampi and chips. The seaside theme continued
by Geoff Holland © 2016
Geoff Holland has contributed to a number of magazines and has written four books of self-guided walks, ‘The Hills of Upper Coquetdale’, ‘The Cheviot Hills’, ‘Walks from Wooler’ and ‘Walks on the Wild Side: The Cheviot Hills’. All books can be purchased online from www.trailguides.co.uk. Geoff, who has lived in Monkseaton for over 40 years, also operates the award-winning website www.cheviotwalks.co.uk. His poems have appeared in a number of publications.