The Northumberland Coast

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24th February 2019

So it’s February already….I’ve not been here since last September but lets not worry about that just now.  We’ve been ‘wandering’ as opposed to ‘rambling’ today on the beach at Cocklawburn in Northumberland.  We’ve not been here before, but the sun is shining and its positively springlike so we decided to take a trip to the beach.  Cocklawburn is part of the Northumberland Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and the Lindisfarne Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).  The Northumberland coast has the longest stretch of sand dunes in Britain – most being formed only 300-400 years ago, lovely sandy beaches, castles and pretty villages. There is evidence of human activity stretching back 7000 years.

The majority of the Northumberland coast is limestone, alternating with sandstone and shale.  These hard rocks form platforms which are moulded by the waves and extend out into the sea as reefs or headlands.  The most dramatic of these are formed of Whinsill – or whinstone – an igneous rock (of which our very own house is built).  The patterns formed from the various layers of rock are fascinating and its easy to find fossils among them.

(For some fascinating info about local geology have a look at http://www.markedbyteachers.com which has a page about Cocklawburn)

On top of one of the cliffs is a disused limekiln, one of many in the local area.  They were built in the 18th century, as industrialisation was taking off and they supplied the raw material for improving soil fertility – quicklime – which is formed when limestone is heated to 900-1000ºC.

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                                                           Limekiln

This is a great place for rock pooling and an excited lady stops to show us a photograph of a couple of starfish she has seen.  We don’t see any of those – just limpets and barnacles with a lot of seaweed – which I thought was not going to prove very interesting but I’ve just spent an hour reading all about limpets and barnacles and found out some fascinating stuff!!  For example did you know that although limpets are firmly fixed to the rocks during the day, they graze on algae at night but always return to the same spot when the tide goes out?  This is because they need to protect themselves from drying out so their shells grow to fit the contours of their very own bit of rock ensuring the best seal between themselves and the surface.  Who knew limpets could be interesting?!

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                                                           Limpets

And barnacles too – these are crustaceans related to shrimp, crabs and lobsters and they secrete a fast acting cement – one of the most powerful glues known to man. In fact researchers are currently trying to find the best way to use this commercially – according to the National Ocean Service in the US – wouldn’t you just have guessed even barnacles are not safe? (www.oceanservice.noaa.gov/facts/barnacles.html).  I’m sure extra-strong barnacle glue is going to be a very valuable resource eventually.  Anyway these tiny creatures don’t move around much – the adult ones just stay glued to the rock by the backs of their heads (ouch!) and feed via ‘cirri’ – feather like appendages which can retract through the top of the outer shell and are used to filter the water for microscopic organisms – when the tide goes out these ‘doors’ close to conserve moisture.

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Barnacles – the cement they secrete is what makes them such a problem for sailors who spend hours trying to scrape them off the bottom of their boats – isn’t that right Mr O?

So this is an important area for birds too – part of the reason for its status as an SSSI.  the mudflats are of international importance for several species including the redshank which we saw today – very close by:

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I was super-excited (I know – it doesn’t take much!) and was frantically waving to Mr RR who had wandered off to look at pretty rock patterns or search for driftwood or something when I suddenly realised that everyone except Mr RR was looking at me – probably wondering whether I was sinking into the mudflat (although no-one actually moved to save me!).  Of course by the time I’d finished waving my arms around and turned back, the bird had flown – not surprisingly!!

When Mr RR finally caught on and joined me, we spotted a flock of smaller birds which we think might have been dunlin – this is another important bird in the area – but sadly they were a bit far away to see properly.  We also spotted oyster catchers, a heron and could hear skylark on the sand dunes.

Anyway – I hope you enjoyed this little wander.  We aren’t actually managing to walk long distances at the moment but I’ll try and put some more wanderings up and also some links in case you feel like a ramble yourselves – so today have a look at http://www.northumberlandcoastpath.org – the coast path is 62 miles long and goes from Cresswell to Berwick-upon-Tweed and is on my list for when long rambles are back on the menu!

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Hopefully see you soon.

Julie xx

Budle Bay near Bamburgh, Northumberland

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Hello,

It was April 2017 when I last posted on here and as I’ve just had a reminder from wordpress that my annual subscription is due….I thought I’d see if anyone was still out there!

Lots of stuff going on in the last year, none of which I’m talking about here except to say that my ricketiness has extended to my feet – which is pretty poor news for a walker!  However, I have a lovely acupuncturist who is working hard to help me get better and today Mr RR and I did our first good walk for a long time.  It was going to be just 4 miles and ended up being nearly 7 (!) which is probably a bit more than I wanted to do….but we made it back (well I hobbled) to Bamburgh for tea and shortbread which is the important thing!

Anyway – let me know if you’re reading and I’ll see if I recover enough to try another ramble later this week.


Sunday, September 9th 2018

Bamburgh to Budle Bay circular (7 miles – which included some wandering about the beach)

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The Lindisfarne Nature Reserve in Budle Bay:

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Home to hundreds of birds but it was really difficult to take pictures because of the high winds and also my failure to charge my camera before we left home!

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Curlew

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Oyster Catcher

The kite surfers were worth seeing too:

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And across the bay – Holy Island.

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The tides were all wrong for us to visit Holy Island today.

See you again soon hopefully!

J x

Coldingham and St Abbs

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Coldingham Sands from the Coast Path

26th March 2017

Well, it’s been a while but yesterday we ventured out in the beautiful spring sunshine and did a 7 mile circular walk from Coldingham via St Abbs Head.  You can read more about walks we did in the area here: Coldingham Walk ; and more about St Abbs Head and Mire Loch here: St Abbs Head.

So today we did the whole circuit combining the Coldingham and St Abbs Head walks, in the glorious sunshine and accompanied most of the way by the incessant guttural cacophony from thousands and thousands of Guillemot which were perched precariously all along the rocky coast. Continue reading

Last day on Arran!

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We were almost defeated by the torrential rain today, almost but not quite!  Having taken a whisky distillery tour at Lochranza Distillery during the worst of the weather, we decided to go for it between showers.  And we were lucky……we stayed dry.  As we were in Lochranza anyway we took a walk along the coast and then up over the hills, looking for the elusive ‘Fairy Dell’  before descending again into Lochranza. About 4 miles I think – although the pedometer has packed up so its just guesswork (I judge distances by the pain in my feet and knees these days!!).

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More from Arran!

We’re still here!

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Today we visited Lochranza (Loch = lake; ranza = norse for Rowan Tree) where there is not only amazing scenery, but a whisky distillery which has a particularly lovely restaurant.  We had delicious Split Pea and Courgette Soup followed by their famous Warm Brownie and Arran Gold Ice Cream…….scrumptious!  Though not particularly conducive to being followed by rambling!   However, we managed a couple of miles along Catacol Burn towards Gleann Diomhan before the rain came down and the lateness of the hour sent us back again the way we came (I’m not mentioning the fact that someone forgot the map and walk book….).  We were very lucky and tracked down the source of the bellowing which followed us along the way to the local stag population.

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St Abb’s Head and Mire Loch

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Date: 28th September 2016

Route: From St Abbs National Trust Car Park, along coast path to St Abb’s Headland and then inland alongside Mire Loch.

Distance: 4.5 miles/7 km


What a stunning walk!  Despite the rain and fog, this may be one of the best walks yet since we’ve been in Scotland.

Following on from last week’s ramble to Coldingham Sands, we decided to explore the coastline further. This National Nature Reserve managed by the National Trust for Scotland is just along the road.  At some point we’ll put them together to make one longer day out – with soup and sandwiches in our back packs I think!

I hope you enjoy reading about it:

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