After a few days of wall-to-wall sunshine, it was almost a relief to be greeted by a cooler, hazy morning, and Footloose were at full strength as we drove north to rendezvous just north of Warkworth. We then retraced the route back to High Park Farm, left a car there and began our walk north easterly along a good gravelly, farm road, alongside some woodland.
We crossed a stream and then picked up another farm road, and where it went off towards Acklington Park farm, we halted for a quick coffee stop by some large rocks which were blocking the track from vehicles. Crossing over the Acklington to Guyzance road several moments later, underneath an electricity pylon, a well maintained farm road kept us heading towards the coast. First though, we had to negotiate the main East Coast railway line, but thankfully the footpath passed underneath it via a short tunnel.
We continued to follow the Way across a large grass paddock to Elyhaugh farm and then re-joined the riverside path as it followed the huge curve of the river. The woodlands through which we walked were carpeted with bluebells, which we identified as the English variety, rather than the Spanish invader. We also spotted wild garlic or ramsons just coming into flower, plus wood anemones and wood sorrel – a host of wonderful spring flora.
The path crossed the Swarland Burn on a substantial wooden footbridge, and then climbed back up to the edge of the flatter land above the river. We stopped to eat our sandwiches in the sunshine on an old fallen tree before disappearing back to our woodland stroll and the path under the A1 road.
The footpath verges were ablaze with wild flowers. Not only was there the brilliant white of the hawthorn bushes in the hedgerows, but red campion, yellow flag iris and extensive swathes of greater stitchwort in the pathside vegetation. A veritable feast for the eyes !
We continued to walk east and eventually arrived at the Acklington to Warkworth road, where we jigged left, then right, to access another well surfaced track, which we had walked some while before (see Cruising Coquet 2 – 2nd May 2015) in the opposite direction. The water tower loomed up on our left as we approached the crossroads of previous note, and we turned north here, looking for a suitable spot to eat our sandwiches. The woodland which spanned the track provided shelter from the cool breeze coming in from the North Sea, but the proximity of several bee hives unfortunately provided some of us with more than we’d anticipated – the bees were very aggressive and showed no hesitation in stinging some of our number. We moved our lunch spot therefore, administered first aid, and then walked on towards New Barns farm.
Inspecting a semi derelict barn at the edge of the steading, we disturbed a little owl from its slumbers. It flew off to perch on a fence post some distance away, and stayed there long enough to give us a view of it through our binoculars. We were approaching Warkworth now, and at Old Barns farm (where new houses were being built) we turned right to cross over to the footpath that skirted the cricket field and castle before entering Castle Street at the top of the hill. The cattle in an adjacent field were enjoying the buttercups !
We continued down the street towards St. Lawrence’s church, crossed over the old bridge, and followed the narrow road towards the golf club, cemetery and beach. We could have turned left to the car, but continued on to pick up the Northumberland Coastal Path and a view of the sea over the dunes. With a north east wind, there were only a few brave souls about, so we did not tarry long and walked back to the car, using the paved cycle way to avoid the busy road.
A brief stop in Felton to enjoy coffee and cake at the Running Fox, and then back home in good time for tea. A pleasant walk, and despite the unfriendly bees, we had enjoyed ourselves again. A coastal trek awaits the next time, as we head due north to our final destination in a few weeks’ time.