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Thursday, 25 February 2010

Get Carter Coast

durham coast path

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.

seaham promenade

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.

blast beach

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.

get carter beach

careful now...

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.

hawthorn dene

We plodded back much more slowly. The Denes were a bit deeper.

warren house gill aka the stopper

But its OK – In the end we did 14 Miles and 1000 feet of ascent (those Denes….)

get carter


Phreerunner said...

Mike - if you haven't done your 15 miler by Tuesday, we could do two laps then. Bring a torch. We (JJ and I to name but two Challengers) did more than 15 miles last weekend so were feeling smuggish until Sloman disqualified us for walking past 3 pubs and a brewery...

mike knipe said...

OOOer I think I may have passed several pubs on Seaham main street - certainly a working man's club and two coffee shops....
I'm supposed to be up Penyghent on Sunday, but the forecast is very iffy for a happy time. I may go North instead and avoid all the unpleasantness. Prospects for 15 miles are slim.

Phreerunner said...

A solution:
Put the pedometer on Bruno.

Graham and I are coming on Tuesday - he can't make Wednesday. We'll try to leave Bruno in front with the pedo. We would hope to eat before coming home, by which time Bruno should indicate that we've done about 20 miles.

I don't trust that Anquet stuff anyway - it's now showing my Challenge route as having 18000 metres of ascent.
That can't be right!

mike knipe said...

Anquet's well known for flattery in terms of metres climbed.
It exaggerates.
I've heard about it millions of times....

Alan Sloman said...

Fourteen Miles: That's two weeks walking for us Southerners... And the belly is getting bigger, not smaller too... It's raining as I am watching the rugby on the telly. So much nicer in here, eating Green & Blacks chocolate...

Word = "summing". I suppose this sums up my preparations for the Challenge so far, then.

mike knipe said...

Keep to the sofa this weekend, Alan, its going to be wet.
It'll be summing else up here, though. (See what I did there....?)