North East Coastal Walk - Druridge Bay, Northumberland
PUBLISHED: 16:18 06 March 2012 | UPDATED: 21:56 04 October 2012
A coastal walk around Northumberland's Druridge Bay which takes in some of the region's most historic sites Words and pictures by David Taylor
Paradise is a subjective concept. What youd consider to be the perfect setting probably differs to my ideal. However, Im fairly certain that a good proportion of all the possible paradises that could be imagined would involve a tropical beach of some description.
This perfect beach would have golden sand, space to call your own and a sun warm enough for the winter blues to be a hazy memory. Welcome to Druridge Bay on the Northumberland coast.
I know, I know. But really, two out of three is a pretty good result. The Northumberland coast isnt renowned for its tropical weather, but it cant be faulted for its beaches, and the seven miles of Druridge Bay is one of our finest.
So, that said we start this walk close to, but not at, Druridge Bay. But dont worry, well return shortly. From the Druridge Links road near Hemscott Hill Farm walk north along the road until you reach a footpath signposted on the left. Follow the path past a lake on the right through to a farm field. Continue along the edge of the field, keeping the boundary fence on your right until you reach the remains of Low Chibburn Preceptory.
The building was originally a farm for the Knights Templar and parts of the structure date from 1313. After the dissolution of the monasteries by Henry VIIIVIIIVIIIVIII, the Widdrington family acquired the land and Low Chibburn was extensively remodelled. It was remodelled again, less sympathetically, by a French raiding party, who set fire to it after landing at Druridge Bay in 1691.
During the Second World War the remains of the building were used as a look-out point for signs of a German invasion. The holes cut into the structure for the defenders guns can still be seen today.
From Low Chibburn follow the yellow route markers west, along the edge of several fields, until you reach a T shaped tree plantation. Take the path between the horizontal and vertical stroke of the T and continue on to join a farm track. Bear left when you reach a junction on the track and walk on to Widdrington.
When you reach the main road turn left and continue along the road until you come to a farm gate. Go through the gate and follow the path south and then west until you come to the A1068 coastal route with the Widdrington United Reformed Church on the other side of the road.
Cross over the road on to the church side and then follow the A1068 south along the footpath until you reach a traffic island. Bear right briefly along the B1337, signposted for Widdrington Station. Cross the road about 100 yards from the traffic island and follow a marked path along a farm field toward Houndalee Farm.
Turn right when you reach the farm track, then left at a footpath marker. Follow this dogleg-shaped path to the main road into Widdrington Station. From there, turn left and follow the path to another traffic island on the A1068.
Cross over the A1068 and walk carefully along the verge. This road can be busy, particularly in summer, so dont risk staying on the road. Fortunately the bridleway east toward Highthorn and Warkworth Lane is quickly reached. Follow the bridleway past Highthorn Farm and between two lakes from where you can see Ellington and the turbines of the new windfarm.
When you reach a crossroads, bear left and follow the path north through woodland. Continue along the path until you reach Cresswell Pond. The pond is more a lagoon of brackish water. Its also not a natural feature of the landscape. Cresswell Pond was created by the depression caused by subsidence from mine workings deep below. Its safe now of course, and is a popular spot for birdwatchers to see geese, moorhen and even the odd avocet.
Once youve crossed the causeway over the pond continue along the edge of a farm field until you reach the Cresswell road. At this point you can either continue north west along the road back to your starting point, or take the path on the opposite side of the road through to Druridge Bay.
Finally, Druridge Bay. Its a striking fact that if the bay were on the south coast of England it would be world famous. But thats part of its charm.
Its a secret, known only to Northumbrians (and now you). Even on a busy summers day, the length of the beach means you can find your own spot for some quiet contemplation.
Remarkably there were once plans to build a nuclear reactor near the bay. Fortunately these plans were shelved and, apart from the Lynemouth Power Station at the southern end of the bay, Druridge remains untouched by industry.
If the tide is in your favour, continue along the beach for about a mile and then cut through the dunes and the Druridge Links road to complete the walk.
Start point: Druridge Links road
Grid reference: NZ 276 961
Ordnance Survey map: OS Landranger Sheet 81 (Morpeth & Alnwick)
Length: 7.15 miles (11.5km)
Difficulty: Some rough paths and walking on sand
Time: Three hours
Nearest pub: The Widdrington Inn
Nearest town: Widdrington
For more information about Druridge Bay visit www.visitnorthumberland.com
David will be back next month with a walk around the Ingham Valley.
The print version of this article appeared in the March 2012 issue of North East Life
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