We had an uneventful journey up the A1 and along the winding Northumbrian roads to Warkworth on a very windy but sunny morning. Parking in the market square in this picturesque old village, we kitted up, ready to enjoy our second walk of the year.
Our route took us down a small lane adjacent to St. Lawrence’s Church and then over the 14th century bridge spanning the River Coquet. Crossing the main road, we climbed the minor road away from the village, and headed towards the sea. Passing the entrance to the golf club on the left, and a caravan site on the right, the North Sea came into view on the other side of the dunes. Not a day for paddling though, the wind was very strong and gusty, whipping spray off the tops of the small breakers and sending the sand whistling over the flat surface at knee height.
Once onto the beach, with the wind at our backs, we marched briskly on towards the Amble breakwater, with the view of the lighthouse on Coquet Island winking a welcome in the distance. That’s when the weather turned nasty though, and a violent squally rain shower pelted us from behind, quickly turning our enjoyable meander along the beach into an endurance test. The rain on our heads was so cold !
Thankfully the squall lasted only a few minutes and we made the breakwater with the sun out again. Overlooking Amble harbour, we had a quick chat to a fellow walker and then headed back towards Warkworth on the inland path, past the old coal staithes of the estuary. Another, much more fierce rain squall made this part of the route a misery, but thankfully it soon past and we were able to inspect the new ponds being created for the wildfowl in the wetlands near the river, before returning to the metalled road and back to Warkworth.
We spent a pleasant coffee break sat in the sun in St. Lawrence’s churchyard, promising to return later for a Lent lunch in church. Retracing our steps back towards the river, we turned south just before it, to wind our way between high walls and fences, along a narrow snicket alongside some allotment gardens. This brought us out near the main road through the village, adjacent to the Sun Hotel and just across from the imposing monument that is Warkworth Castle.
Our route took us in front of the walls where we puzzled over whether or not the moat would have been water filled, it being so high above the river. Having come to no firm conclusion, we wandered off through playing fields and followed the track along a field edge behind some houses, basking in glorious sunshine.
The path eventually turned right along a minor road, leading to a Northumbria Water treatment works and Howlett Hall farm. At a magnificent sycamore tree, we turned off the path towards the river and The Hermitage. Alas, there was no custodian to ferry us across, so we had to be content to learn about the history from the book.
The riverside path now wound its way back towards Warkworth, where we had a superb view of the Castle – and, guess what, we saw more evidence of spring with red, female hazel flowers and yellow catkins ready to loose their pollen, in a copse by the side of the path.
We walked around the base of the Castle, behind a group of stone built riverside houses, and finally back to St. Lawrence’s Church, where we joined local people for their Lent lunch of soup, cake and a drink.
A truly wonderful finale to another extremely enjoyable walk in a superb Northumbrian location. We can’t wait for the next instalment !