Day 10: Bass Rock to Elie Ness

So, I might have added Bass Rock to my list as it was visible from the mainland and it’s just epic. It’s essentially a massive lump of rock sticking out of the sea with a lighthouse on it. I’ve seen it from about three different angles now and it’s amazing!

My second stop, once I found it, was Fidra, another island (closer to the coast than Bass Rock). Not quite as impressive, but still great to walk about near the beach to see it.

The same, unfortunately, can’t be said for my next stop in Newhaven. I saw it eventually, but only after numerous wrong turns. It was pretty much the same story in Methil. The small lighthouse is no longer in use and, for some reason, I found it a bit of a challenge to spot, only just about managing it before I was about to give up.

I then checked in at a campsite in Luddin Links. It’s a great site and, best of all, the owners have just brought me a birthday card and cake. This, once again, shows just how lovely people are being!

This evening I took a drive to Elie to try and redeem the day and it certainly did that. The small lighthouse on Elie Ness (pictured) is a picturesque little thing, like a small castle! It’s in a stunning location and luckily the sun had come out this afternoon, so I got some amazing views of Ruby Bay, the lighthouse and back across the villages to the west.

I feel sorry for poor Little Car today. She’s been bumped about a bit. The main incident was when I reversed into a high kerb, so I’ve had to tape her mud flap back on. Oops! I also knocked her door against a wall when I got out of Elie. I have been apologising to her a lot recently! 🙂

Day 9: Holy Island to Barns Ness

So, I’ve reached day 9 a.k.a. The day I entered Scotland! I had to smile to myself as I passed by the Scottish flags on the A1. I’m a big fan of Scotland and its landscape mostly. Just beautiful!

However, I must not get carried away. So, I began my day with a drive to Holy Island. I had been searching online to find the tides times as the island is inaccessible at high tide. It is linked to mainland UK by a causeway from a small village called Beal (just north of Seahouses and Bamburgh). At high tide the causeway disappears under the sea and there is no way to get to or from the island until the tide goes out again. The drive across the causeway wasn’t quite as scary as I expected it might be. The lighthouse (or should I say a stick with lots of electrical cables and solar panels on it) was nothing to write home about, but it’s a beautiful place and its remoteness at high tide adds a great deal of appeal to it, in my opinion. I also had a brief conversation with a man who had just found a halfpenny. He was rather pleased!

Fortunately, I managed not to get stranded and made my way on to Berwick-upon-Tweed, my final stop in the north east of England. I was only able to see the lighthouse from a distance as the pier is currently closed to the public. It’s a really picturesque town though, whilst still appearing relatively modern (it had a Cafe Nero where I bought lunch, mainly so I could use their facilities without feeling guilty).

My first port of call in Scotland was St Abb’s Head. This was my first glimpse of how challenging Scotland may be in comparison to England. Although I could have driven to the lighthouse I (very fortunately) decided to park up and walk it. It was a pretty long walk of uphills and downhills, but completely worth it. Aside from getting the opportunity to see the amazing coastline and cliffs on the way to the lighthouse, I also saw the man-made loch, which was just stunning. The weather today has been perfect and it was great to see all of this against blue skies. It was, however, a bit of a scary moment having to walk through a group of cows on both sides of the path who were all watching me! Frightening stuff!

My campsite tonight is just a couple of miles north of Barns Ness lighthouse (pictured), so I took a drive/stroll (I drove half way) to it this evening. It’s what I would call a typical-looking Scottish lighthouse, with a black top, yellow thing (you know, the bit that stops the light from being visible inland – a visor?!) and white tower. It makes for a fantastic structure, which looks great against the landscape.

There was a lovely man who showed me to my tent pitch when I arrived here. He was tramping about on the grass to check that it was dry enough and told me to go and sit in the laundry room if I got cold. He is a good example of the type of people I have come across so far. Everyone has been so caring and helpful. Good times! 🙂

Day 8: Blyth to Bamburgh

I began the day by having a rather long chat with the owner of the B&B I stayed in (I’ve now left the area that seems to be seriously lacking in campsites) over breakfast. She was telling me about her back, her family history and her husband’s job! The B&B owners I have met so far have all been really friendly and very chatty.

Following a request from my sister, and to avoid the Tyne Tunnel experience again, I drove further inland this morning to pay a visit to the Angel of the North. I know some might say it’s ugly and a bit of an eyesore, but I like it. It is huge, but is a great landmark and a pretty peaceful area, considering it’s next to the A1.

With the advanced warning that the landscape gets a bit more industrial again at Blyth, I was looking forward to getting my first stop out of the way. However, I don’t quite know where that information originated. It may not have been a seaside town or boasted great views, but it was actually a pleasant enough (but very cold) start to the lighthouse-hunting day.

I then called in at Amble, which refers to itself as “the friendliest port” on its welcome sign. I don’t know about that. My first experience was of lots of people walking across roads in front of me, which came across as more annoying than friendly if I’m honest! Perhaps if they had walked out in front of me waving banners saying ‘Welcome to Amble, Sarah’ I might feel differently and may be inclined to agree to their claim.

Just outside of Amble I passed through, what looked like, a beautiful little village, Warkworth. I imagine its main attraction is the castle, which sits on top of a hill as you enter the village from the south. Then you pass along a quaint little road and a really pretty bridge. Simply lovely!

I then stopped at Seahouses and got my first glimpse of the Farne Islands. The sky was clearing by this point and the sun was out over the islands and their own lighthouses. The old lighthouse on the pier seemed to be quite the little gathering place, which I assume is because it provides (very slightly) closer views of the Farne Islands. As I walked back from the lighthouse I overheard someone who had been out on a boat saying that there had been plenty of puffins about today. There are a number of boat trips from Seahouses, most of which provide an opportunity to see puffins and seals, but I don’t think I would have got on one of those boats today if I was paid! Not in these winds!

My final stop of the day was Bamburgh. By this point the sky was turning blue and the sun was shining, which made a welcome change! The lighthouse looks out across the North Sea and there are some fantastic views from the road leading to the lighthouse (pictured, at the left of the picture).

Just two stops left in North East England and then I’m off to Scotland! 🙂

Day 7: Seaham to Whitley Bay

What a lovely day! It’s been great to get back to some sensible coastline without huge factories everywhere.

Firstly, and very excitingly, I have seen my first “lighthouse in action” in the evening. I am staying in South Shields tonight and have just got back from meeting an old friend from school who I haven’t seen for 19 years as she moved to Durham with her family when we were 10. Really great to catch up (and there was so much catching up to do). So, I am staying just a road away from the beach here and I thought, on my way back, I’d take a small detour to see how the lighthouses on the ends of the piers are doing and one of them is doing just what a lighthouse should! If I look through the trees out of my bedroom window I can see the flashing every now and then. Very exciting!

So, my day started in Seaham where I was, unfortunately, not able to access the pier in which the lighthouse is on, but judging from some of the pictures I’ve seen of the waves breaking over it, it’s probably for the best! I also had a wander along the beach and took more photos of eroding cliffs (I think I’ll become a geologist)!

Sunderland was a great one (or should I say two). The two lighthouses are in Roker, one on the end of the pier and the other a short distance away in a park. I braved the walk along the pier, which is attacked by waves in some places. Fortunately, I managed to dodge them. The lighthouse is somewhat weather-beaten, but still standing and there was actually a light on in one of the windows, which I found odd in a pleasing way. The second lighthouse has a more modern look about it.

Souter lighthouse (pictured) was my third stop of the day. I was expecting it to be set further away from the road, but as I turned the corner there it was with it’s big, red and white stripes. The lighthouse itself is in fantastic condition (probably because The National Trust have to keep it that way to attract visitors)! The foghorn located in front of the lighthouse is huge and I imagine, if that goes off when you’re in the area, you won’t be hearing anything for days!

I then, rather quickly, passed through South Shields and saw the two lighthouses at the end of the piers (one technically classed as North Shields) and the intriguing red structure. I have since come back to these, of course, exactly as the rescue helicopter and lifeboats were finishing a rescue near one of the piers. Got some rather nice pictures of them as well!

Although it meant having to go back on myself for accommodation tonight I had enough time to travel on to my next stop and back. This one was on St Mary’s Island, essentially a large rock with a handful of buildings on it just north of Whitley Bay. The island is only accessible at low tide via a causeway, which is completely submerged when the tide is in. When I arrived it wasn’t accessible, but it looked just beautiful. 🙂