Walkers take a stroll through industrial history

ON a glorious Spring morning, 22 members and guests from Morpeth Footpaths Society met in the coastal village of Seaton Sluice to embark on a very interesting walk in an area which was once a major industrial hub of Northumberland.

We followed the Seaton Burn upstream, passing the remains of Starlight Castle, which is said to have been built in a day and a night by Sir Francis Delaval as part of a bet with Samuel Foote, the London playwright.

After crossing the burn we climbed up the steep side of the valley and joined an old waggonway, one of several in the area, which was used to transport coal down to the harbour and bottleworks. To the right we had a good view of Seaton Delaval Hall and the Obelisk, which is reputed to mark the spot where Rear Admiral George Delaval, who built the Sir John Vanburgh-designed Hall, died as a result of falling from and being dragged by his horse.

We continued along the waggonway until we reached the Northumberland Wildlife Trust bird hide at Holywell Pond, where we stopped for lunch overlooking the pond with its many varieties of feathered friends who were also enjoying the Spring sunshine.

We retraced our steps back to the trackbed of the former Blyth and Tyne Railway, walking along The Avenue until we came to Whitley Bay Golf Club.

Shortly after we found ourselves back in suburbia and, after negotiating the very busy road by the Caravan Park, we were back on the coast where we had a coffee and ice cream stop while admiring St Mary’s Lighthouse which was built in 1898. The lighthouse was decommissioned in 1984 and stands at 38m (120ft) in height.

Unfortunately, the causeway to the island was still covered with seawater so most of the group decided not to wait for the outgoing tide and walked back to Seaton Sluice via the coastal path, marvelling at the surfers braving the cold North Sea.

After passing a field of curious Alpacas we soon found ourselves back in the village, passing the Waterford Arms, which is named after Susanna, Marchioness of Waterford, granddaughter of Sir John Delaval.

The other pubs in the village, the Delaval Arms, the Astley Arms and Melton Constable are all linked by name to the Delaval family.

Once back in the car park a few of us took advantage of the excellent catering provided by the SHAK, (Safe Homes and Kindness) dog rescue volunteers, from their caravan before returning back to Morpeth invigorated by the sea air and warm sunshine.

SARAH HOWELLS