Wednesday, 30 September 2009

A-Walking: Alnwick Ambiences

Alnwick, Alnmouth and the surrounding coast are two of my favourite areas within eastern Northumberland. One of the outstanding features of Alnwick is its very impressive castle - see the photograph below1

Start of walk near Alnwick
Today's expedition involved visiting this outstanding part of the Northumberland coastal region. Our route started from Alnwick and took us to Embleton via Lesbury, Longhoughton, Craster and Newton Pool.

We set off from our starting point on the approach road to Alnwick {NU 195 118}, at about 10.50 am. There were 10 people in the group: PB, RB, KF, JG, CH, JJ, LM, MS, JY and PY. JJ led the walk.

From our drop-off point on the A1068 road we passed under the A1(T) dual carriage-way to find a good track at {NU 197 118}. We followed this in a north-easterly direction to a public footpath at {NU 199 119}. Turning right, we made our way along this in a south-easterly direction (passing East Cawledge Farm on our left) in order to cross Cawledge Burn using a footbridge at {NU 203 115}. In doing this, we had to traverse a wonderfully ‘atmospheric’ wooded valley. We emerged from the wood at {NU 204 115} and made a south-easterly trek to Bilton Banks {212 102}. We now took a north-easterly bearing and headed for the River Aln - passing by Greenrigg {NU 217 111} as we went.

We were thinking about crossing the river using the stepping stones at {NU 217 118}. However, because many of these were missing and the river was quite deep, we took an alternative route along the south bank to reach Bilton Mill {NU 221 120}, the railway viaduct at {NU 229 121} and then the A1068 road at {NU 233 115}. We crossed the road and then used the old bridge in Lesbury to cross the River Aln. Following the A1068 road in a northerly direction for about 0.5 mile, we went under the railway bridge and took a footpath on our right. As we went north we passed an interesting species of tree2 which we named ‘concretimus-plasticosum’ {NU 230 129}.

A new genus of tree
We continued our northerly trek to {NU 236 152} where we met a minor road. Turning left we followed this for about 100 yards and then took a north-easterly, becoming easterly, path towards Longhoughton where we joined the B1339 road at {NU 244 152}. Turning right, we headed in a southerly direction for about 100 yards and then turned left onto a minor road which took us to Low Stead {NU 253 156}. From here we made our way north to {NU 255 161} where we found a delightful path through the woods. This took us to the coast near Iron Scars where we had a well-overdue lunch stop at {NU 258 163}.

After lunch we followed the Northumberland Coast Path3 (NCP). With the sea on our right, we followed the NCP to Sea Houses {NU 261 173}, Cullernose Point {NU 260 188} and Craster {NU 258 200}. As we approached Craster, the aroma of smoked kippers became very apparent (see here).

We continued along the coast - passing the impressive Dunstanburgh Castle {NU 257 218} on our right. Just after the castle, the NCP turned onto a north-westerly bearing - taking us towards Embleton Bay and the Dunstanburgh Castle Golf Course. Passing the club-house on our left, we stayed with the NCP - continuing north across Embleton Links - in order to reach a westerly-going path at {NU 242 239}. Taking this, and passing Newton Pool Nature Reserve on our right, we climbed over Kelsoe Hill and continued in a south-westerly direction to meet the B1339 road at {NU 230 231}. Turning left, we now went south along the road into Embleton {NU 231 227} where the walk ended4 at the Dunstanburgh Castle Hotel - see the picture below.

Dunstanburgh Castle Hotel
Following our very pleasant ‘apres-promenade’ event in Embleton, we all boarded our coach and headed south for Alnwick where we picked up the members of the map reading class.

Use the buttons below to see where we went, how we did and some of the things we saw.


We had a great day today - combining both inland and coastal ambiences. Many thanks to Jill (and John) for facilitating the expedition.


1 I am extremely grateful to JG and JJ for providing this lovely photograph of Alnwick Castle and its reflection in a near-by lake.

2 The ‘tree’ that we saw was in fact a concrete pillar that supported various items of electronic communications equipment. In order to reduce its impact on the local ambience, it had been camouflaged with green coloured plastic branches. However, from a distance, it looked exactly like a pine tree!

3 The Northumberland Coast Path is a long-distance path (64 miles) that runs from Creswell {NZ 293 935} to Berwick-upon-Tweed {NT 994 534}. Some parts of this path coincide with the St Oswald’s Way long-distance path (97 miles) which runs from Holy Island {NU 136 417} to Heavenfield {NY 936 694}. Details of these walks can be found on the LDWA Web site (see here). The St Oswald’s Way path has its own Web site (see here).

4 We arrived at the end of our walk at about 4.15 pm - about one hour before the coach was due to depart. We therefore had plenty of time for our 'apres-promenade'.



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