Deciding to head north to try to avoid the heavy rain that the forecasters said would arrive later, half of Footloose took to their boots for a coastal and country walk. The lovely village of Embleton was our starting point, and we spent an interesting 45 minutes exploring Holy Trinity church. There were some fascinating items to see – the wonderful iron, spiral staircase leading to the belltower, the marvellously decorated stonework on the pillars and nave arch, and the new Trinity sculpture in a niche above the south west entrance porch. The adjacent pele tower, now a private house, is a reminder of the turbulent history that this region endured in the 14th century, but thankfully, peace now reigns in this beautiful place.
We left the village, heading north along the road for a while, until a footpath through several rape fields led us eastwards towards the sea, and the Newton Pool nature reserve, where greylag geese were the main inhabitants. We eventually met the Northumberland Coast / St. Oswald’s Way footpath and turned south towards Dunstanburgh Castle, through a mini hamlet of beach huts adjacent to Embleton Links. We dropped down onto the beach, walking along the shoreline for about a mile on firm sand. We’d spotted a couple of swallows already, hawking for early flying insects, and there were also terns fishing some yards offshore. A group of small waders (later identified as sanderling) amused us as they danced and skittered at the water’s edge, and a lone eider drake floated gracefully near some rocks.
The magnificent ruins of Dunstanburgh loomed ahead, and we quickly skirted the base of the massive rock outcrop that it stands on, making our way onto the sheep-cropped grassy pathway towards Craster and lunch ! The light playing on the water here made for a delightful scene, my photo hardly does it justice.
We sat on a convenient bench near the lifeboat station in Craster to have our sandwiches, surprised that the rain had held off for so long, but eventually we moved off to the church of St. Peter the Fisherman, hidden away as it was amongst the cottages set back from the main street. The Gallery held the key which enabled us to view this simple, charming building, with its lovely examples of old and new stained glass windows.
There is some remarkable history attached to many of these churches, from the local well-to-do families who sometimes paid for the church building, to the local people whose deeds are recorded in memorial tablets or on gravestones. They provide a truly fascinating journey into the past, and humbling to us modern-day pilgrims.
We left the village by a circuitous route, eventually passing the crab and lobster stone sculpture at the boundary of the dwellings, and made our way north east towards our walk’s end, past Proctors Stead, an interesting house built around an old tower. We walked over grass fields, fields planted with barley and through a small wood, before crossing Embleton Burn and emerging onto the road at Shirewater Low Mill.
It was but a few steps more before we re-entered Embleton, and rewarded ourselves with refreshments at the Dunstanburgh Castle Hotel. The sun was still visible as we reflected on another very good day’s walking amidst wonderful Northumbrian scenery.