D9:English Coastal Path



Monday 14th July 2018

Today miles: 8.2        Total miles:  129.6

For the third time is as many weeks I’ve returned to the car park at the entrance to the Holy Island causeway. This time I’m continuing South towards Bamburgh. There’s been a lot of blue skies during the last few months but unfortunately for me it seems to have disappeared, at least for today. I’m expecting today to be a little problematic because instead of heading inland on the Northumberland Coastal Path towards Belford, which is 2 miles from the actual coast, I’m going to instead stick as close to the coast as possible. I’ve never understood why the official Coastal path deviates so far inland after Holy Island. I’m going to have to wing it between Fenham and Warren Mill as there’s no mention of a public foot path. I did see a warning to avoid the mouth of Budle Bay due to the quick tidal waters in that area. Over the last hundred years several people have drowned in the bay, more on this later!!! After parking in the car park in front of Bamburgh Castle I caught the X18 bus to Beal services and then walked the 2 miles to reach the Holy Island causeway.

I quickly picked up the Northumberland coastal path and then just as quickly left it again, to take the alternative footpath which takes me all the way to Fenham. After Fenham I attempted to walk along the edge of Fenham Flats, despite the recent extended hot spell the ground is still very wet and difficult to walk across. I then climbed onto drier ground and passed by the bird watchers hide near Elwick. Inside I removed my boots and extracted all of the seeds and other vegetation that had found its way onto my socks over the last 2 hours. I noticed that on the edge of the beach, scattered amongst the sea grass there were literally the empty shells of millions of dead crabs, not something I’d ever seen before. Eventually I reached the end of the mudflats at Ross Point. Next, Budle Bay and my moment of absolute stupidity. I could see an old WW2 pill box on the far side of the bay, approximately 1 km away and nothing seems to be blocking the way. At this point the alternative 4kms around the bay seemed to be unnecessary. I made a direct beeline for the pill box.

About 100mts before the concrete box I saw there was a small river of water flowing down to the sea. I couldn’t see any easy (short) way around it so instead just went for it. It was only about 5-6 metres wide and it didn’t look to be deep. I put my iPhone and iPad into the top of my pack and stepped into the water. The first few metres were fine but then the depth went down steeply, I went from ankle deep to knee deep to waist deep in only a few steps. As I reached the far side  I sunk into the soft sand and stumbled backwards into the water. My backpack, iPad and me got a full soaking. For the next 20 minutes I sat leaning on the pill box cursing myself and my stupidity and wringing out my soaking wet clothes. More annoyingly having climbed up the dunes I could see a short section of the water nearer to the coast which looked easier to cross, without a soaking.

I didn’t have far to go and could see Bamburgh Castle in the distance. I crossed Bamburgh golf course and remembered how I had been refused a cup of coffee in the clubhouse two years ago. Blatant golf snobbery at its best. Bamburgh is only a small town but it’s got massive character in the shadow of the castle and there’s lots to see and do around here. I had an extended break on a bench in front of the castle before heading back to the car. The car park was empty this morning but now it’s absolutely packed. I could have walked further today, to Seahouses or even to Beadnell, however public transport around her is a bit iffy so I’ll content myself with 13 miles today.

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