(23rd March 2014 – 11 miles including 2 miles off-route)
After an all right breakfast Jim, Tracy and I left The Blue Bell Inn – for ever – and set out on our short day’s walk to Bamburgh.
We passed quickly, quietly, hobbit-like through little Embleton, crossed the local golf course and returned to the beach.
The weather was still glorious and I wondered how many more clear, sunny days we could have for goodness sake. We pulled out our sunglasses – again, rubbed in sunblock – again
and traipsed on northwards – again. I thought it warm but Jim insisted on a funny hat – again.
I gazed back at lovely Dunstanburgh Castle and worried if I would ever revisit.
Sure would, I now know. Northumberland has developed a strong pull on me and I was back within 16 months.
After a mile, we arrived in Low-Newton-by-the-Sea with its attractive pub … but even I don’t drum my fingers outside bars at 9.50am. Usually.
Without a stop, we climbed a slight headland beyond the village
and passed more empty beaches
on a sandy path through marram grass.
I automatically lifted my camera at a flicker of life in a bush and, zooming in, realised that what I had thought to be an unexciting house-sparrow was nothing of the sort. I’d have to wait until I got home, however, and peruse my ‘Beginners Guide to Sparrow-like Birds With a Black Bib‘ (a slim volume) to learn its true identity: a male reed bunting. Fancy. Seeing a new species is always gratifying for me … in an anorak-wearing, tick-tick kind of way.
Tracy and Jim waited patiently for me to catch up after yet another twitcher diversion. They’ve become used to my frequent stops and hardly even grumble any more. (I’m still not sure of that hat, Jim. Gives you a look of Mrs Overall).
Back on the shore, and whilst lost in a beach-comber-sea-salt moment, I missed the slight detour to Long Nanny Bridge for an easy crossing of Brunton Burn which otherwise blocked our way.
Instead of back-tracking, if fearful of wet feet, we gingerly sploshed and splashed across the wide, shallow stream picking our way through a network of deeper channels and sandbanks. But heroically we did so without wet socks! Which was a pleasing triumph of the “you had to be there” sort.
We had a cup of sad coffee in a Beadnell pub garden, set up the self-timer on my camera, smiled to show just what an enviable time we were having and marched on to lunch.
Off to our right lay the Farne Islands with the largest – Inner Farne – closest. I lied in my last post saying that Dunstanburgh Castle sits on the last outcrop of the Whin Sill: the final vestige is actually the Farnes. (This is the same rocky escarpment that Hadrian’s Wall clung to for so many miles before I started on the St Oswald’s Way). Boat trips from nearby Seahouses run out to the islands during the summer – a trip I’d long dreamed of. When, in July 2015, I finally made the voyage to the huge raucous bird colonies it was a gold star day. (There’s an account of that trip and the wildlife I saw – here).
But boat trip or no, there was plenty of bird-life right here on the mainland. Some birds coyly refused to come within camera range but I did snap one of many Oystercatchers,
a curlew (not many of them)
and a pair of eider ducks. As usual with birds, the female eider pulled the short straw from the flamboyance fist.
Oh, and a starling. I took a photo of a starling. Not terribly exciting but at least this one was personal-hygiene-aware. I can’t abide a smelly starling.
At Seahouses we squeezed into arguably the best pub of my two-week walk – The Olde Ship Inn. The main bar is a madness of brass ornaments and, on our visit, a comprehensive collection of salty old sea-dogs. The Ship, first licensed in 1812, is a charming warren of corridors and public rooms. They serve a delicious crab sandwich and lager lunch too. If you ever find yourself in Seahouses, do seek it out. Sated and jolly we rolled down to the harbour and a view of two more castles. Directly ahead was massive Bamburgh, our day’s goal;
whilst further off, and marking the end of the St Oswald’s Way, sat Lindisfarne Castle on Holy Island.
The SOW cuts inland after Seahouses but, as it was low tide, we pooh-poohed that silly idea and stuck to the firm beach for the last mile or two. Gusts of wind whipped up the sand into mesmerizing currents leading us on like spooky mist. (Not that spooky, you’re right).
At 3.30 we arrived at Bamburgh Castle on the site of King Oswald’s capital.
Bamburgh is impressive but aesthetically it leaves me a little cold. I think a heavy Victorian renovation has robbed it of the charm of say, Dunstanburgh or Warkworth. But hey, that’s just my opinion.
We circled the ramparts and found a tea-shop garden where Jim and I chatted to a Weimaraner-owning couple as only those who’ve owned a Weimaraner can and will do. Tracy quickly glazed over and nodded face first into her carrot cake.
We prodded her awake, wiped the butter-cream off her face, promised not to talk about Weimaraners anymore (today) and set off on a final mile out of the village to our night’s rest, Glororum B&B. This was another great choice (by Tracy) and we didn’t begrudge that extra mile, nor her disinterest in Weimaraners.
I even forgave it a pink and lime colour combo which led me straight back to my similar room at The Queen’s Head, Rothbury. Am I missing a trick with lime and pink bedrooms? Do I know nothing about interior decorating? Probably not … but I remain unconvinced. Lime and pink indeed.
After a freshen up, we walked the mile back into Bamburgh for dinner and ale but couldn’t face the third mile back yet again to the Glororum. We agreed it was hardly cheating to hail a cab … and besides Tracy got to chat up the driver. So that was nice.
We were now only a day and a half from Berwick and Walk’s End. Tomorrow – our last full day – would be easy-going under a warm sun. Maybe I wasn’t so bad in a previous life after all.
11 thoughts on “St Oswald’s Way: Day 5 – Embleton to Bamburgh”
Thnaks for sharing …Northumberland looks fantastic, and your photos really give a sense of the spaciousness of the place. The ‘Beginners Guide…’ sounds like a handy book, but ‘Birding for the Seriously Myopic & Ornithologicially-Challenged’ might be more my speed. Would love to visit Alnick and Lindisfarne Castles. Look forward to reading more of your migratory meanderings : )
That is a good book too, Jo but I find the type a little too small. This stretch of path is also the Northumberland Coast Path – 64 miles starting a little further south than where I joined at Warkworth. Might be a contender for you too? D
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I shall investigate…a daunting walk for rookies such as myself, but could work up to it. Definitely on the list…
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This brought back some lovely memories of our (so far) first and only trip to Northumberland in summer 2014. I understand why you are so drawn here, we will make a return journey. We walked along these beaches and stopped at some of these pubs too. Gorgeous photographs too.
Northumberland does bite and hang on tight. I’m not sure when I shall next visit but I hope it won’t be too long. I can recommend the Bailiffgate B&B in Alnwick. We stayed there for a couple of nights this summer and it’s perfect for exploring Alnwick Castle gardens. Fine kippers too. Dave
We stayed in Alnmouth for a week and visited Alnwick gardens – interesting but a tad busy. We bought Kippers from Craster but had a brain freeze moment – we did not cook them and wondered why they were so odd, so looking forward to doing this properly the next time. The B and B sounds very good, thanks for the recommendation.
Craster kippers are marvellous but yes, I think warmed up with butter is best! You’re right about how busy the gardens are (we were there in July) and lots of kids #shudders#. But I was surprised how young the garden was and yet didn’t particularly look it. That’s a shed load of money for you. D
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I do love all that the Lake District offers me on the doorstop, BUT walking along those stretches of sand with the sound of the sea drowning out any thoughts takes me to another place,it’s our favourite place to holiday and You have just taken me there this morning with your wonderful pictures, thank you
I’m pleased you liked the photos, Ann but you’ve reminded me that I haven’t been to the Lakes in too long. Actually I was there last Christmas for a week but a year seems like an epoch to be away from my favourite county. Dave
I do find the ‘Beginners Guide to Sparrow-like Birds With a Black Bib‘ such a useful text. Oh, and the smiling worked; lots of envy over here. Looks beautiful.
I thought it a very rare book, Janna but I’m pleased you’ve bagged a copy too. Beautifully illustrated little tome. D