Footloose minus one gathered for the longish drive north towards the wonderful village of Bamburgh, the ancient capital of Northumbria. We had hoped to be there in time for the 10 a.m. communion service, but traffic on the old Great North Road delayed us. We parked adjacent to the village green, with its majestic trees echoing to the sound of cawing rooks as they busied themselves nest building.
Brian led us in a prayer before we set off from the church wall towards the castle. The sun was streaming down out of a cloudless sky as we rounded the cricket field and made our way over the dunes to the beach. It was deserted save for a couple of dog walkers, and, with a following wind, we enjoyed the walk on firm sand. The views over to the Farne Islands were superb, with the Longstone lighthouse on the Outer Farne gleaming in the sunshine. The highlight of this part of the walk was the sight of several pairs of cuddy ducks sheltering amongst the rock pools close to the shore. These Eider ducks derive their nickname from their association with St. Cuthbert, who lived as a hermit on the Farne Islands in the 7th century.
Greenhill Rocks, near the old coastguard lookout station, was our halfway point along the beach, and we stopped for a cuppa before eventually crossing the Clashope Burn at Monks House, and climbed up away from the dunes to cross the Bamburgh to Seahouses road.
Our path now headed south across farmland towards a cottage in the process of renovation, and then turned west to lead us past Saddlershall, with super views of Bamburgh Castle in the distance over winter sown fields. A footpath led us towards Ingram Lane where, just past a concrete Second World War pillbox, we
emerged onto the quiet road before turning west again towards Burton. Crossing a rape field that was just coming into flower, we climbed slowly towards the Burton farmsteads and Glororum, where we deviated slightly from the written route and followed the metalled road towards a caravan site. Here we found some horizontal cut tree trunks which provided ideal seats for our lunch stop.
The cool wind chilled us while we sat, so we curtailed our repast and, after admiring the tractor’s hieroglyphics in the fields opposite, crossed a stone stile into a grassy field towards Bamburgh. This gave us another excellent view of the Castle and village, and we were soon heading down towards them, looking forward to our visit to the church.
What a magnificent building it is – set amidst a well tended graveyard with its imposing memorial to Bamburgh’s famous resident, Grace Darling. Dedicated to St. Aidan, the only ancient church to be so named in England, it is impressive both in size and splendour. The large chancel has a stunning ceiling and very attractive choir stalls, surpassed only by the beautifully carved Caen stone reredos behind the communion table. A truly peaceful place and we enjoyed a time of quiet reflection before emerging once more into the bright sunshine of early spring and our now traditional photograph.