I had resigned myself to not continuing anymore of my Scottish coastal walks this year; deciding instead to soldier-on with my ‘second front’ walking south along the North East coast of England. I also used this trip to revisit Blyth as my local football team, AFC Telford United, were playing Blyth Spartans in the FA Trophy. I decided to book myself into the same B&B I had stayed at, the previous week in Whitley Bay.
My first objective was to drive to and park at the Metro station at Hebburn. From there it was a short hop to Pelaw, where I changed onto the Sunderland Metro link. At £2.60 it was fantastic value for money and quick too! I arrived at Sunderland City centre at 07:00 and it was still quite dark, so I found a nearby Greggs close to the station and got myself a bacon/sausage baguette and a cup of coffee.
I had never been to Sunderland before, so it was nice seeing something quite different. I started walking at 7:30 and headed for the iconic bridge over the River Wear. I crossed over the bridge just as it was just getting light. Once across the bridge I dropped down some very steep and poorly lit steps to the river footpath. As I reached the bottom of the steps I became aware from the signage that I was on the English Coast Path. There was a complete covering of ice on the path from the overnight frost which made me very wary where I put my feet. The view back up to the bridge and high-rise buildings was very impressive.
I followed the Wear towards its entrance into the North Sea, passing the Sunderland University campus in its marvellous setting. I eventually emerged at the mouth of the Wear at North Pier. The sun had not risen yet but was casting a beautiful amber-glow in the South-East. I looked north along the coast towards Newcastle and could see the promenade heading through Roker Park and Seaburn. Even at 08:00 there were many people about walking dogs and jogging along the beach. By the time I reached the small coastal settlement of Whitburn the sun had risen and I passed from the City of Sunderland Council area into South Tyneside.
I followed the footpath through an old disused rifle range and continued onto the Lighthouse at Souter, now owned by the National Trust. This lighthouse was the first to have used electricity to generate its light. Unfortunately, the lighthouse was closed for the season and so my free entry with membership of the National Trust could not be used. Not far from the lighthouse I walked along a dramatic section of cliff coastline composed of magnesium Limestone. I kept an eye open for a rather unique pub called the Grotto. A lift-shaft descends down the cliff-face to the beach and where originally the dwellings were hewn out of the soft limestone. I thought the pub had closed down but I could see it was now open as cafe come bistro. This area was originally the site of Marsden village which had long since disappeared together with its industrial prominence. I entered the outskirts of South Shields walking along a large open space between the main road and the sea, owned by the National Trust, called The Leas.
The Leas merged into the resort part of South Shields with its amusement arcades and promenades. I approached the mouth of the Tyne and could easily make out the Castle and Priory at Tynemouth just across the river.
The next 4 or five miles were predominantly along roads skirting old industrial sites, docks and other industries. I am following mainly busy roads passing the famous town of Jarrow and on into Hebburn.
After arriving back at my car I then drove north through the Tyne Tunnel and onto my B&B in Whitley Bay, the football match was later that evening……we lost!
Distance today = 18 miles
Total distance = 3,411 miles