My Get Fit for the TGO Challenge plan says that at some point in February, I should walk 15 miles, so for somewhere new to go, I decided to have this little trundle down the Durham coast path – based on the theory that if I walked seven and a half miles in one direction, I could walk back again and thus achieve my objective.
The temperature today was a tropical five degrees – thats plus five… In Fahrenheit terms that’s fifty degrees warmer than it was up the A66 the other day… And so, in a kind of incipient North Sea haar, we marched southwards from the little car park just North of Seaham.
I was last here in 2001 when, during the foot and mouth fiasco, this was, at one point, the only footpath open in the whole of England. Its remarkable that in the intervening years, the area just South of the town has been completely rebuilt – so much so that my map is now just wrong…
So we just followed the path – and its a very good one – easy to walk on and not too many of those nasty contour things. We fair battered on Southwards.
To do this place justice, though, its much better in may or June when its a superb location for a spot of botanising. Some people may remember the specially bleak black beach in the final scenes of the classic “Get Carter” where our hero (Michael Caine) has chased one of the villains for many miles and eventually catches up with him by a coal conveyor, carrying spoil into the sea. The villain is murdered using cheap whisky and a shotgun and is loaded into a hopper and dumped with the shale – just as Carter is shot by a sniper…… well…. that’s this beach. the conveyor has gone but the beach is still raised and covered with black shale, but the rest of the coast has been restored to limestone grassland and the sea is finally cleaning up the beaches. There are still a couple of places where the cliffs are protected from the sea by raised areas of industrial waste – notably Blast beach. Eventually, the sea will recommence working away at these cliffs.
There are, apparently, just offshore hereabouts, octopus and underwater visibility has increased from nil to 5 metres…..
But we digress a bit. We were fair blasting South.
We crossed hawthorn Dene – a deep sandstone gorge – and more Denes further South until, at last, I was faced with a steep drop and re-ascent at Warren House Gill – and I was finally outfaced. I just couldn’t be arsed with this – and I’d have to retrace steps very shortly. Pointless, really. I was half a mile short. It was three o’clock and time to turn North.
We plodded back much more slowly. The Denes were a bit deeper.
But its OK – In the end we did 14 Miles and 1000 feet of ascent (those Denes….)