Wednesday, 4 May 2016

Walking: River Wansbeck from Stakeford to North Seaton 25th April 2016

In previous posts I wrote about how I'd randomly got on a bus and ended up walking round Northumberlandia and Plessey Woods.  The two bus routes I used that day were the X21 from Newcastle to Newbiggin and the X22 from Newcastle to Ashington which, for much of their lengths, follow the same journey.  I'd noticed some other places that day including an attractive railway bridge.

Rail bridge as viewed from the road bridge over the Wansbeck at Stakeford

So I made a plan:  Go and see the bridge.  That was the entire plan to start with but I got organised and looked at a map.  A proper plan.  It looked from the map that I might be able to have a good walk.  From Stakeford I would follow the River Wansbeck to the sea and it looked as if I might be able to head north from the river estuary to Newbiggin.  At the very least I'd see the railway bridge even if the paths didn't work out.

The weather forecast wasn't great.  Cold with some showers.  But I wanted to go out anyway.  As I put my shoes on it began to rain.  And as I walked to the Metro, just a few minutes away, the rain turned to sleet and then to hail.  I thought, "What the hell am I doing?"  But I caught the Metro anyway, both determined and in possession of a good coat that Amanda and I call my "adventure coat."  It's just a coat.  But we call it that anyway.  And then I caught the bus knowing that if the weather was too bad in Stakeford a cafe and hot drink would await me ten minutes later in Ashington.

I got off the bus at Stakeford in dry weather.  Yay!  And began the walk.  The pictures here are some of the photos I took on my phone in the first part of the walk, from Stakeford towards the estuary of the River Wansbeck.  It's strange.  I do have a dedicated digital camera.  But it seems I hardly ever get it out of my bag.  I could probably take better pictures with it and using the phone means I miss out on having a half decent zoom lens to play with.  But I'm enjoying using the phone camera, especially at the moment because I still find it exciting that the new phone has a reasonable resolution and actually has a camera on the front.

I reached the bridge.

This is the North Seaton Railway Viaduct.  It carries the Blyth and Tyne line that runs from Tyneside to Ashington.  This carried passengers until 1964.  From then on it only carried freight, mainly from coal mines until the industry fell, and until 2012 to and from a smelting plant and power station.

The bridge replaced a mid-19th century wooden bridge and was built in the late 1920s.  It is black.  Hence its nickname, "The Black Bridge."

It's certainly prettier than the road bridge I had come from - which was built of concrete in 1994.

Many thanks to the "Bridges on the Wansbeck" website for information about the bridges.

This is Blob Thing.

He's started to come out on trips with me.  He'll be getting his very own blog post soon from a day out.  It'll be of interest only to me, a specific friend, and strange people!

One thing that's quickly becoming apparent is that I like trees.  I took several pictures of them that day and several more a couple of days later on a walk I'll be posting about soon.

Since I've talked about bridges I'll end with this picture.  I took this not for the bridge but because I was just wondering how far away the sea was when I rounded a corner and saw it.  Not far at all.  Beyond the bridge there is the estuary and sandy ground.  I'll talk of that in the next blog post and of the walk from the River Wansbeck to Newbiggin by the Sea.  I'd really enjoyed walking down this little bit of river.  Much of the coast walk was even better - and a lot colder.  Up until this point I'd stayed totally dry too.

The bridge here is the North Seaton Road Bridge.  It's actually two bridges, the second one being built 25 years after the first when the road was widened.  Just in front of it is a foot crossing above a weir.  There is no public access onto that concrete crossing but I was very tempted to ignore the sign for the sake of taking photos from the middle of the river.  I resisted temptation but only just.

This is out of order for the story, but when I got home I looked at Google maps online and thought - as I have thought quite often in the last year - what a pity it is that they took away the distance measuring tool when they updated their map software for something I still think is worse.  I wondered if there was another site that would help.  Yes, there is.  It's and you can use it to map your walks or runs or cycle rides or whatever else.  You can make notes on your routes, see roughly how many calories you've burned, and look at the altitude and gradient changes.  You can then save your route map and, if you choose, make it available for other people to find if they're looking for a route in the same area.  I am very pleased to have found that site.

If you want to look at my journey from Stakeford to Newbiggin, here it is, all 5 1/2 miles of it.

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