As today was going to be walking along tarmac paths and roads through built-up areas of industry and suburbia, I would ditch my walking boots in favour of my trainers. I also had to drive through the Tyne Tunnel and park at the Metro station at Hebburn. I decided on a very early start and slipped out of my B&B at 5:45. There was a tremendous amount of rebuilding and construction going on around the Tyne Tunnel approach, which confused my sat nav; so it was a case of following the road signs.
Some of the Metro stations offer free parking and I made good use of this at Hebburn. I always thought the Newcastle Metro was a brilliant service, but a broken down train left me and countless others waiting almost 40 minutes for a replacement train to come. Getting back to Whitley Bay should have been easy, but some confusing signage at Monument saw me get off the train (which would have ultimately taken me back to Whitley Bay) and wait for another train which was announced as “For the Coast”, yet have South Shields marked on the front of the Train, even though the train was heading for North Shields. You tell me? Anyway I defied logic and jumped on one of these trains.
Some 2 hours since leaving my B&B in Whitley Bay I arrived back in Whitley Bay and continued my walk. It was dry but very windy, I set off at a good pace, more to keep warm. I had to don my walking jacket as the icy blast from the wind was very cold. I passed the dramatic ruins of Tynemouth Castle and Priory which are only open at the weekends this time of year. Although I would not have paid to gone in, £5.60, is quite expensive for a set of ruins. Although I understand why they must charge, its more than I am prepared to pay. I suppose I could pay the £45 annual membership, like I do with the National Trust and get in free?
Soon after passing by Vice Admiral’ Cuthbert Collingwood’s large monument (a famous mariner who fought alongside Nelson) I turned west and headed along the banks of the River Tyne. I immediately began battling a very strong headwind, that was giving the Tyne a very choppy appearance. I was soon overtaken by the cruise ferry Princess Seaways arriving after its overnight crossing from Amsterdam (or more precisely Ijmuiden). I entered the town of North Shields, although it would be very difficult to distinguish any boundaries amid the built up conurbation. I pass through the Fish Quay, where the distinct smell of fish landing, selling, processing, serving and eating gave the area a unique character. Large building and construction barred my way further along the shore side, forcing me inland slightly along the busy A187.
I headed west along the A187 and passed close to the entrance of the Tyne Tunnel. Close by was the entrance to the Pedestrian and Cycling Tunnel, which I would have loved to have used, but was closed until April 2018 for repairs. That would have saved me a few miles walking! I join the Hadrian’s Cycle Way which follows the route of the old Riverside Branch line of the Newcastle and North Shields railway. I arrive at Segedunum the Fort which marks the eastern end of Hadrian’s Wall at Wallsend. I am afraid I was very underwhelmed by Segedunum. Most of the site is just reconstructed cobbles defining the precise location of the various parts of the fort. After centuries of building, construction and taking of the stones very little remains of the Roman Wall at Newcastle. I continue west towards Newcastle along the Hadrian’s Wall National Trail which continues all the way to Bowness-on-Solway.
I follow a loop in the river loops and the centre of Newcastle comes into view. I catch sight of the very impressive Millenium footbridge spanning the Tyne in a double bow. From the bridge I look further west at the other road and rail bridges which have spanned the narrow Tyne over many years. With the wind at my back now I make good time, taking a circuitous route alongside the river and pass around industrial sites wherever they occur. By midday the sun has begun to come out and excellent views back across the Tyne where I had previously walked a couple of hours ago. I decided on stopping at Hebburn for a couple of reasons, namely; I did not know how far I could get with the sunshine available, I wanted somewhere free to park and my next section which may be to Sunderland which is also on the Metro and would make it easy to get back to my finishing point.
An enjoyable days walk, given the biting wind, but an area packed with history that would take me a too long a time to stop, explore and describe.
Distance today = 20 miles
Total distance = 3,393 miles