North East Coastal Walk - Tynemouth and Whitley Bay
PUBLISHED: 12:41 08 November 2011 | UPDATED: 12:00 09 October 2012
The print version of this article appeared in the November 2011 issue of North East Life
We can deliver a copy direct to your door order online here
Where have all the heroes gone? Well at the starting point of this months walk we have evidence of at least one hero. Looking out across the River Tyne, the Collingwood Monument commemorates Cuthbert Collingwood, a Georgian public schoolboy.
Doesnt sound too auspicious so far, does it?
To be fair Collingwoods moment of glory came after his schooldays. As a Vice-Admiral, Collingwood served with distinction under Lord Nelson during the Battle of Trafalgar. In fact, Nelson and Collingwood so respected each others abilities, and were such good friends, that they now lie together in St. Pauls Cathedral. Not a bad resting place for the former pupil of the Royal Grammar School in Newcastle, and a tough act to follow for todays pupils.
A grateful Tyneside erected the Collingwood Monument in the 1840s. Around the base are cannon from Collingwoods Trafalgar ship, the Royal Sovereign. And its from one of these very cannon that we start this months walk.
From the monument, walk towards Tynemouth Priory along Pier Road. Head north onto East Street and then follow the curve of Sea Banks around Percy Gardens. At this point, if the tides are in your favour, walk down onto Long Sands beach; otherwise follow Grand Parade north to Cullercoats. If you walked along the beach come back up onto the road at St. Georges Church and meet those who didnt on Beverley Terrace.
Cullercoats was once a thriving artistic community. Its fame began to grow from the 1820s onwards.
The charms of Cullercoats (and there are many) attracted Victorian artists to come and paint the village and the nearby coast. By the 1880s local painters such as Robert Jobling and William Henry Charlton were jostling for easel space with renowned American artists like Winslow Homer. Theyre long gone now of course, but that just makes it easier to walk through Cullercoats without tripping over.
Walk along Beverley Terrace to Front Street and then follow the path along the coastline, past Cullercoats Harbour, until you reach Southcliffe.
From Southcliffe head back to Windsor Crescent and the main road north. The route now is straight and simple and follows Promenade along the seafront to Whitley Bay and the Spanish City.
Ah, the Spanish City. What northerner of a certain age doesnt go misty-eyed at the sound of those four evocative syllables? A visit to the Spanish Citys funfair was a rite of passage for every young Geordie. It was a pleasure palace of light and sound. Its all a lot quieter now of course. With more people holidaying abroad theres been a general decline in the fortunes of all of Britains beach resorts, and sadly Whitley Bay is no exception.
Still, theres no point in being maudlin. Although the funfair is long gone (the Corkscrew Rollercoaster is now in Flamingoland, alas) the mighty dome of the Spanish City still stands and is currently being restored to its former glory.
When you reach the Spanish City follow Watts Road down on the path that runs along the beach. When you reach the Links either continue on along the beach, if the tides are favourable, or follow the path along the top of the Links. When you reach a road, turn right and follow it to the causeway across to St. Marys Lighthouse.
St. Marys Lighthouse is only accessible when the tide is low. At high tide the causeway is covered and the lighthouse stands proudly on an island.
However, St. Marys is no longer an active lighthouse. Decommissioned in 1984, it was bought from Trinity House by the Friends of St. Marys Lighthouse - a noble set of folk who want to keep the lighthouse and the island open to the public. If you can cross the causeway safely, do so and go and show your support.
From the lighthouse walk back along the road until you reach the A193. Cross over and follow the road west for approximately 200 yards. At a sharp bend in the road follow the footpath west until you reach what looks like the base of dismantled stone railway bridge.
The reason it looks like a dismantled stone railway bridge is because it is a dismantled stone railway bridge. Or, to be more accurate, its an uncompleted stone railway bridge. In the mid-nineteenth century there was a great mania for building railways, a mania that led to over-ambitious plans, bankruptcy and social ruin. And uncompleted stone railway bridges. Still, the bridge is a useful landmark even if it never carried any trains.
Turn left at the bridge and follow a footpath between the greens of Whitley Bay Golf Club and the farm fields. Follow the path away from the golf club at a sharp bend and then turn left to follow the path east of Brier Dene Farm. After a dogleg, join a wide track, a former waggonway, and follow it in a south-easterly direction.
Eventually you should start to see houses on either side of the track as you enter the outskirts of Monkseaton. Continue along the track, down through an underpass and past a school. Eventually the track takes you out onto Front Street. At this point, if you want to cut the walk short, its just a short stroll to Monkseaton Metro Station. From the station theres a regular Metro to Tynemouth. However, to continue, turn right and then left onto Norham Road.
Follow Norham Road onto Park View and then onto Whitley Road. When you reach a large traffic island go down Eskdale Terrace and from there onto Victoria Crescent. You should now be back onto familiar territory. Continue south until you reach Tynemouth and your original starting point.
So, where have all the heroes gone? Well, if youve completed the walk successfully I think you should give yourself a pat on the back and consider yourself one.
Start Point: Collingwood Monument, Tynemouth
Grid Reference: NZ 371 690
Ordnance Survey Map: Newcastle upon Tyne Landranger 88
Length: 9.3 miles (15 kilometres
Difficulty: Easy paths, some walking sand
Time: 4 hours
Nearest Pub: Queens Head, Cullercoats
Nearest town: Whitley Bay
For more information about the coast visit www.northumberland-coast.co.uk