On another lovely morning, three Footloose fellas met up at the small car park just outside Boulmer, and then drove down to park near Warkworth beach to begin stage 8 of St. Oswald’s Way. The tide was out as we made tracks onto the beach, so we were able to walk on the firm, damp sand for several miles.
There was a good view of Coquet Island to the south and miles of sandy beach, backed by marram covered dunes, to the north. We crossed the rocky outcrop called Birling Carrs, stopped for a while on a large piece of driftwood for a coffee, and then continued to make good progress towards Alnmouth. Wildlife was plentiful along this stretch of coast – we spied grey seals inquisitively looking at us from the water, cuddy ducks bobbing about in the shallows, gannets plummeting for fish, and small waders scurrying about along the tideline. Groynes were abundant along this stretch too, prompting the question – why here? Normally they were built to prevent the sand being washed away by longshore drift. We wondered how long these had been in place – they looked very weathered.
We overshot our exit from the shore, which brought us to a point only a few hundred yards from Alnmouth – but with the river in the way ! We backtracked slightly, and crossed over the dunes to pick up the correct track, which then skirted the road via the cycle path and headed towards Hipsburn. We chatted to a lady from South London who was doing the Way in one go, but going south. We were able to reassure her that the paths were well marked.
Once over the Duchess road bridge, we took a metalled path (Lover’s Lane) alongside the river, with a lovely view of Lovaine Terrace with its multi-coloured houses to our left.
Curlew, ringed plover and some other waders were probing about in the mud close by. The path came eventually to a children’s play area with seats and benches, which we gladly used for our lunch stop.
Although the sun was still shining, there was a cool breeze from the south west, so we hurried on around the point along Riverside Road and then crossed the golf course to emerge once more onto the beach near Marden Rocks. We left the beach as we approached Seaton Point and skirted the small group of holiday chalets that had been built on the dunes. Some were in need of a bit of TLC, but others were obviously very well cared for.
Having avoided the rocks around Marmouth Scars, we dropped back onto the beach, after observing a group of 8 large birds resting/preening at the end of a nearby field. We thought that they were herons, though the colour looked slightly wrong from where we were standing. Later, Clive researched the internet to confirm our suspicions, but we were still puzzled by their behaviour. We reached the car a short while later, after a stop for coffee and to admire the boats sheltered in Boulmer Haven. We were tired but content, after spending the day walking along, and admiring, the superb Northumberland coast. It had been a lovely sunny day too, which really was the icing on the cake.