Nature Ramble

Turning back the clock.

Most of us, at least in my generation (read: old) remember a carefree childhood. One where we could wander at will and see nature.

But the intervening years have taken a toll on ‘carefree’.

Today, with industries encroaching on our lands we need more green spaces where we can be at one with nature.

Walking England’s new coast path: sea and skylarks in the north-east

Following Wales’s lead, England is opening a national coastal path. The first section, in the post-industrial north-east, makes a captivating two-day walk

End of the pier show … Chris Moss, on the left, at Steetly Pier on North Sands beach. Photograph: Kate Miller

Which do you like best: skylarks or racing pigeons? Coal-stained “black beaches” or white sandy ones? Kebabs or haute cuisine?

On the new coast path between Hartlepool, County Durham, and Sunderland, Tyne and Wear, the great thing is that you don’t have to choose. The route, which starts in North Gare beach by the mouth of the Tees and ends 34 miles to the north on the other side of the Wear, is either the ultimate in post-industrial flaneuring, or psycho-geographical “edgelanding” (exploring the boundaries where urban meets rural) – in other words going for a walk in the kind of landscape many of us grew up in.

“Eventually, this path will be part of a 4,500km [2,796 miles] England Coast Path,” said Andrew Best of Natural England, joining me and a friend for the walk. “We chose this area for the first stretch because the local authorities were really up for it – and it’s fascinating but under-explored.”

We set off on a glorious day from a car park at North Gare. Before facing north to follow the new ECP signs along the coast, we looked back towards EDF’s two nuclear power stations, the Seal Sands oil terminal and a landfill site. There’s still plenty of working industry in the north-east, but when we turned around we were looking over recovering grasslands, with redshanks, blackcaps and butterflies flickering all about. Every few metres a skylark ascended, emitting its busy call.

The walk into Hartlepool was flat and easy. Seaton Carew looked like a seaside town stuck somewhere between a quaint past and a future with potential. A new promenade was busy with pram-pushers, mobility scooters and dog-walkers.

 

Everyone smiled and said hello. An old deco-style lido was crying out for a posh cafe and a spot of gentrification.

At Hartlepool railway station we stopped for refreshment at the Rat Race, a lovely micro pub serving real ales (“924 beers since November 2009”), Belgian beers, and posh crisps. Skirting the pleasant harbour – and some less pleasant strip malls and dual carriageways – we came to a suburb called Headland, which lives up to its name geographically, and is the site of a statue commemorating much-loved sexist, beer-swilling comic-strip layabout Andy Capp.

Beside him stands Saint Andrew’s church, converted into the beautiful Mary Rowntree restaurant in 2012, and serving thinly battered fish and thrice-fried chips, with fine wines and even finer mushy peas.

After Headland we were on Durham’s Heritage Coast, established in the late 1990s after the closure of the collieries to beautify the area and protect the magnesian limestone cliffs, unique to the region. The official path currently meanders through development land so we opted to walk via North Sands beach – easy enough at low tide – and enjoy a plodge (paddle) on the way. Wood-framed Steetley Pier sticks far out, a remnant of the magnesite industry that is now used by fishermen brave enough to clamber up its rotting legs. A little farther along was a fenced-in nesting area for little terns, a rare breed on these shores. Just beneath it a ringed plover was scouring a stream for food.

Source: TheGuardian Read and see more

 

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4 responses to this post.

  1. Give me the white sandy beaches any day.

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  2. This is a good development for a walking holiday, though I like to go off the beaten track into wild nature, nothing is safe and predictable where I walk.

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